Data Furnaces: The next big thing in home heating?

Source: John Cook, Geekwire, November 27, 2011.
Data centers produce massive amounts of heat, so much so that companies like Facebook have gone to extreme lengths to develop innovative cooling systems to make sure that servers don’t overheat.

But what if you could turn the excess heat from data centers into a home heating solution?

Researchers at Microsoft and The University of Virginia are tackling that very idea, working on ways to put “data furnaces” inside homes, apartments and office buildings as a way to keep residents warm while at the same time powering the Internet.

It’s a bold — and still untested — concept. But the promise of having a micro data center inside a home or condo isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. The researchers — including Microsoft’s Jie Liu, Michel Goraczko, Sean James and Christian Belad — write in a recent research paper that the problem of heat generation at data centers can be turned into an advantage.

“Computers can be placed directly into buildings to provide low latency cloud computing for its offices or residents, and the heat that is generated can be used to heat the building. This approach improves quality of service by moving storage and computation closer to the consumer, and simultaneously improves energy efficiency and reduces costs by reusing the electricity and electrical infrastructure that would normally be used for space heating alone.”

Read the  full article here.