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Comtec Enterprises backs up datacentre with hydrogen fuel cell

Karl Flinders

Comtec Enterprises has backed up its datacentre power supply with a hydrogen fuel cell to save on space, eradicate downtime and reduce its carbon footprint.

The company, which supplies technology products and services and hosts customer applications, finalised the building of its new datacentre, which houses up to 1024 servers, in June and purchased an APC hydrogen fuel cell for about £60,000 to provide power back-up.

This is only the third such APC product implemented in a datacentre to be deployed in the UK, with Kensington based financial services company Winton Capital Management and technology company UPS Systems the other two users.

Nick Claxson, managing director at the company said he opted for this because there was insufficient space for a diesel generator outside the building and he wanted to increase the company's green corporate credentials.

"It sits inside the datacentre and the emissions are no more than a few drops of water," said Claxson.

The fuel cell starts working as soon as there is a power outage unlike a diesel generator that can take some time, added Claxson.

Comtec buys its hydrogen from BOC and stores enough in canisters outside the datacentre to keep it running until re-supply can be made, in the event of a power cut.

Paul Tyer, managing director for UK and Ireland at APC, said the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology is still in its infancy and is still an expensive method of backing up power supplies. "But costs will come down as the adoption scales up," he said.

"Today companies that could benefit from this are those with planning constraints and those that have a strong environmental policy and want to be seen to have corporate responsibility," he said.


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