Cow Manure Will Power Data Centers In Coming Years

Illustration for article titled Cow Manure Will Power Data Centers In Coming Years

Spare a thought for the cows when you're surfing the net in the coming years, won't you? Their manure will be shoveled and turned into fuel, so companies such as HP can power their data centers and save the world.

Tech companies are having to look further afield to set up their data farms, and as it turns out, being so close to farms has one strong benefit: poo. The manure has to be first turned into biogas, by running through an anaerobic digestion process, separating the methane out from the rest of the waste.

The biogas is becoming increasingly more important due to it being a renewable fuel, able to be compressed and used to power cars—or in this case, data centers. HP is at the heart of the project, telling tech companies that as the average moo-cow makes enough manure a day to power a 100-watt light bulb, 10,000 cows' waste could actually power a one-megawatt data center.


The tech firms are kept happy, and farmers too—with the added income going a long way on farms, though not far enough that they could actually afford all the supplies needed for a biogas set-up, said to cost $5 million up-front and $30,000 every year thereafter in maintenance costs. [NY Times]

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I grew up surrounded by dairy farms and to my knowledge the manure produced always went directly back into the farms for "dressing" the fields. I never heard about excess manure that the farmers didn't know what to do with. Perhaps the farms in question are not dairy farms and have different requirements (?)