to come, instead of a battery, a bottle of hydrogen may keep
your systems running. Tru Vue, a picture framing and glazing
product manufacturer, is the first U.S. company to use
American Power Conversion’s InfraStruxure with integrated
fuel cells in its data center. The original InfraStruxure
solution is a rack-optimized data center enclosure that offers
power and cooling management. Polymer electrolyte membrane
(PEM) fuel cells, incorporated into the new design, make
InfraStruxure a more efficient way to keep data centers running
during a power failure. Hydrogen is stored outside the data
center and carried through pipes to the cells, which replace
batteries and generators for backup power. Tru Vue has been
using the system since March.
Jacob Nelson, lead network administrator at Tru Vue, says
his company needed to affordably provide extended run time to
its data center, a critical factor as it supports multiple
Fuel cells make the most sense in cities where diesel
generators are not feasible, when run-time requirements would
call for batteries that are too large or costly, or for
environmental sustainability reasons, says APC product line
manager Randy Wyatt. Because their only byproducts are heat and
water, fuel cells have zero carbon emissions. Generators and
batteries can produce toxins.
Why haven’t fuel cell solutions gone mainstream?
APC’s Wyatt says acquisition costs remain high, since the
young technology is produced at low volume. However, Wyatt
predicts that lower lifecycle maintenance cost will help. As
the first U.S. customer (APC has a few fuel cell customers in
Canada and Japan), Tru Vue received some price breaks plus tax
credits. The price tag, including installation, came to about
$67,000, says Nelson.
“We don’t run a very large data center, so for
our size, the cost of the fuel cells was appropriate,” he