HP today presented new research from HP Labs, the company’s central research arm, showing how the manure output of cows and the heat output of data centers can be combined to create an economically and environmentally sustainable operation.

In a research paper presented at the ASME International Conference on Energy Sustainability in Phoenix, Ariz., the HP researchers explain how a farm of 10,000 dairy cows could fulfill the power requirements of a 1-megawatt (MW) data center – the equivalent of a medium-sized data center – with power left over to support other needs on the farm.

In this process, the heat generated by the data center can be used to increase the efficiency of the anaerobic digestion of animal waste. This results in the production of methane, which can be used to generate power for the data center. This symbiotic relationship allows the waste problems faced by dairy farms and the energy demands of the modern data center to be addressed in a sustainable manner.

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