DOE Announces Grants for IT Energy Efficiency

Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and Alcatel-Lucent are among the recipients of grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for projects on improving energy efficiency in the IT and communication technology industries.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced US$47 million in grants for 14 energy-efficiency projects across the country Wednesday. The funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a huge economic stimulus package passed by the U.S. Congress early last year.

"These Recovery Act projects will improve the efficiency of a strong and growing sector of the American economy," Chu said during a press conference. "By reducing energy use and energy costs for the IT and telecommunications industries, this funding will help create jobs and ensure the sector remains competitive. The expected growth of these industries means that new technologies adopted today will yield benefits for many years to come."

The projects focus on improving equipment and software; minimizing the power loss and heat generation in the power supply chain; and research on cooling equipment.

The federal funds for these projects will be matched by more than $70 million in private industry funding, the DOE said.

Information technology and telecommunications facilities account for approximately 120 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually, or 3 percent of all U.S. electricity use, the DOE said. Rapid growth in the U.S. data center industry is projected to require two new large power plants per year just to keep pace with the expected demand growth, the agency said in a press release.

Among the projects funded:

-- Yahoo received $9.9 million to design a key data center that will use outside ambient air for cooling. The design of the data center should be repeatable, the DOE said.

-- Hewlett-Packard received $7.4 million to test a new data center design using alternating current and water cooling components.

-- Alcatel-Lucent received $1.8 million to test and develop heat-sink structures and device-level liquid cooling technologies to reduce server heat. The company received a second grant for $300,000 to develop methods to synchronize telecom network energy demand.

-- IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center received two grants, totalling $4 million, for projects to develop liquid metal thermal interfaces for data centers and to develop software-based cooling tools.

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