When I was a kid, I really enjoyed science fiction. I avidly
read paperbacks and comic books. One of my favorite comics, 2000AD, starred future policeman Judge
Dredd, spaceman Dan Dare and the M.A.C.H. 1. Looking back
now, there were two things we always took for granted when it came to our
perception of the future—the year 2000 was a long way away and energy would be
If you think about it, images of the future included a world
of energy-reliant features such as step-on step-off sidewalks, hover cars,
monorails soaring between mile-high buildings, air conditioning in the deserts,
warm glass domes over northern cities, and cheap flights to the moon and Mars.
Energy was plentiful and involved no pollutants.
And then we arrived in the year 2000 to discover it is very
different from what we’d expected. The world was information rich but energy
poor. Worse still, even with energy limitations, we discovered the specter of
climate change brought on by developing countries trying to implement the same
energy-consuming features as developed countries.
Thus, I’ve taken a great interest in energy conservation—how
it is used today and how we might use it in the near future. I was very
optimistic with respect to the possibilities of solar energy, but my hopes were
dashed when I discovered that most early electric solar panels required more
energy to manufacture than they would save during their lifetime. Then I discovered
that many new battery systems contained toxic materials and had a very short
working life or would ignite
when placed in an aircraft.
For a while, the hybrid car seemed destined to save the
planet, but then I discovered the bulky battery pack wouldn’t last as long as
the car itself.
Despite all these previous disappointments, I have found new
hope for our future with the advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology.
A few automobile manufacturers have developed hydrogen fuel
vehicles to demonstrate a clean-burning car. Mercedes-Benz has been touring the world
with three fuel cell powered cars, each having driven 30,000 kilometers; while Toyota, Hyundai and other manufacturers have already developed their own versions
of hydrogen fuel-powered vehicles.
often ask why the hydrogen fuel cell car is better than an electric car, as
they both have zero emissions. The big advantage of the fuel cell car is that it
can be refueled in only a few moments – as fast as refueling a gasoline-powered
car - rather than having to charge it overnight.
our information age, data centers use large amounts of electricity. A typical
data center uses the same electricity as 1,000 US homes (CBRE 2013). Wouldn’t it be great if
clean hydrogen technology could eliminate fossil fuel back-up generators? Microsoft is going one step further and deploying permanent distributed power using fuel cells right next to the server racks.
further my excitement, CommScope has added to its existing fuel cell solutions by offering an indoor hydrogen fuel cell backup power
for data centers. The solution fits inside a standard 19-inch rack and can
deliver 10, 20 or 30kW of direct current or, with an uninterruptible power
supply, alternating current and run for as long as
hydrogen is available.
fuel cell, containing resilient and non-toxic parts, might just be our ticket
to a future filled with efficient, pollution-free energy.
Judge Dredd’s descendants will probably not ride around on gas-guzzling hover
bikes, but they may split their time between riding a fuel cell vehicle and detecting
bad guys using the vast quantities of data enabled by data centers powered by
clean, distributed hydrogen energy solutions. Welcome to the future!
think hydrogen fuel cell technology is the key to finding a path to a future of
abundant pollutant-free energy?