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IBM`s Solar Servers: Energy Efficiency for Datacenters
By: Katie Gatto
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    2008-09-24

    Table of Contents:
  • IBM`s Solar Servers: Energy Efficiency for Datacenters
  • A Hot Issue
  • Deeper Environmental Issues
  • Big Green Goals

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    IBM`s Solar Servers: Energy Efficiency for Datacenters - A Hot Issue


    (Page 2 of 4 )

    This intense magnification did, however, cause some problems for the engineering team. The largest problem associated with magnifying and concentrating the light of the sun is the heat that invariably comes with it. The heat, had it been left unchecked, would have been enough to do some serious damage to the solar panels.

    How serious was the risk of damage? Well, in laboratory tests the heat generated by this system was high enough to melt steel!

    The engineers used a system to wick the heat away from the panels. The system involved a cooling block and liquid metals to protect the panels from heat damage. The liquid metal was designed to pull the heat out of the panels and into the cooling block, and prevent the system from being damaged or outright melting.

    This technology was not a new idea, however, but a re-application of an existing technology on a much larger scale. This system was already in use by IBM in order to cool some of their high heat chips.

    The metallic liquid used to cool solar cells is actually a mix of two different metals: gallium and iridium. Each of these metals has a characteristically low melting point which made them an ideal choice for this application. Gallium is a semi-conductor and iridium is a metal that is often used in the creation of alloys with a low melting point.

    None of this is to say that IBM wasn't interested in the environmental impact that taking their data center solar would have on the earth. This project is, in fact, part of a larger and also IBM-sponsored initiative. The initiative, named Project Big Green, was announced by IBM in May of 2007. The project is a billion dollar commitment of computer industry funds, designed to help make the computer industry more eco-friendly, and reduce the cost of doing business to the planets ecosystem.

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