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Home > Feature Articles > Alternative Energy Solutions

Edison's DC Power Generation Sparks New Interest for Savings

Energy efficiency improves with reduced conversions from AC - DC - AC in datacenters

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City heat island from greenhouse gas and global climate change

Edison's Final Revenge

The system of Direct Current power generation and local distribution that the great inventor championed is set for a comeback

DC vs. AC ----- Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla

The voltage of Alternating Current could be easily transformed, allowing long-distance power transmission by virtue of the fact that electricity sent at high voltage (and correspondingly low current) suffers very little loss in the wires.

The victory went to Tesla's AC technology, but Con Ed, the last supplier of DC power had been urging their remaining customers to switch to AC and, as of November, 2007, it ceased supplying DC power altogether.

BUT...Edison's DC concept is alive and well, particularly among people who manage data centers.

These computers can continue to run because they are not directly connected to the grid. Rather, they are fed by uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), which contain batteries that are continuously being charged off the grid.

And batteries are DC devices.

And within those computers, that AC is converted to DC, and that DC is converted yet again to low-voltage DC, at least once if not twice. So there can easily be five or six power conversions between the grid and the circuitry that's actually doing the computing work.

The inefficiencies of these conversions are small, but they add up.

A recent study of this issue sponsored by the California Energy Commission found that for each watt used to process data, another 0.9 watt was required to support the upstream power conversions. And those losses generate heat, so they exacerbate the problem of trying to keep equipment cool.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's High-Tech Buildings program, study the inefficiencies of all these conversions and concluded that some of the conclusions could be eliminated -- and thus, regain efficiency.

By converting to DC just once, distributing the DC power around a data center and stepping the voltage down as necessary, the overall efficiency could be improved by 5% compared with the very best AC equipment available. And compared with more typical equipment found in data centers, the gain was 28%.

Additional research is taking place in Sweden, France and Japan.

By combining the production of heat and power, facility managers can squeeze much more useful energy out of the fossil fuels they use, so this approach will certainly become more widespread as time goes on.

SOURCE: Read the rest of the details about Ac/DC solutions at American Scientist: Author, David Schneider:

green business sustainability
PROBLEM: Inefficiencies of power conversions between AC and DC.

SOUTION: By combining the production of heat and power, facility managers can squeeze much more useful energy out of fossil fuels.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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