EE Product News

Power Play for Data Centers

I received a call recently from a representative for a company called Active Power ( They wanted to come to our office to talk about a new product targeted at data centers. I wasn’t too keen on meeting with them, since we rarely cover products that are meant to be sold to data centers. Active Power, according to the representative, is the leader in battery-free critical power solutions.

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to meet with them. Around the same time, I received an email from a competitor of their’s, Pentadyne Power Corp. (, describing how the best minds on energy and data center issues had joined together to develop a working demonstration to prove how the nation's data centers could amass billions of dollars in utility savings by using dc architecture. This would conserve thousands of gigawatt-hours of energy per year. And, the e-mail points out, one gigawatt-hour is enough energy to power more than 60,000 average homes for a year. Wow!

The technology demonstration is being conducted at Sun Microsystems in Newark, Calif. and is meant to prove that using dc power instead of ac can reduce energy needed to run data centers by up to 20 percent and improve overall system reliability. Servers from major manufacturers have been tested to operate within the dc architecture. More information can be found at the following site:

Oh, by the way. Both Active Power and Pentadyne manufacture flywheels to use as backup power for a data center. Flywheels are touted by these companies as a clean source of backup power for data centers. In addition, Active Power has figured out how to cool a data center, even after power has gone down, with a product called CoolAirDC. This unit generates backup power along with cool air and is based on the company’s TACAS (Thermal & Compressed Air Energy Storage) technology.

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