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German car manufacturer Daimler AG announced on Friday that it will be working together with American information tech group Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE), and other companies to use its automotive fuel-cell systems for back-up and continuous power solutions for data centers.

The Mercedes-Benz automaker said that it was aiming to apply its carbon-free energy supply systems to non-transportation industries with the help of HPE, tech company Power Innovations International Inc., and US-based research institute National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Daimler’s fuel cell director Dr. Christian Mohrdieck stated that the growth of automotive fuel cell systems is undisputable today. They are ready for everyday use and create an important option for the mobility sector.

However, Mohrdieck added that the prospects for hydrogen beyond the transportation segment, such as energy, industrial, and residential sectors are changeable and needs the development of new strategies. He also stated that economies of scale and modularization are important challenges.   

The company and its partners are expected to demonstrate a prototype this year and a pilot project for the data center will start in 2018.

The Stuttgart-based carmaker will be joining the partnership, along with its subsidiaries, fuel cell systems developer NuCellSys, Mercedes-Benz’ R&D team in North America, and its pioneering think tank the Daimler Innovation Lab1886.  

Daimler’s Approach for a Carbon-Free Energy Supply

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Fuel cell technology has been an integral part of Daimler’s powertrain tactic. It is already experienced with hydrogen-powered electric vehicles, testing them around the globe. It recently revealed its next step with the pre-production models of Mercedes-Benz’ GLC F-CELL.

Mercedes Benz’ fuel systems are perfect for integrating into today’s data centers as they have the highest safety and quality standards.   

HPE’s vice president and general manager Bill Mannel stated that the rapid increase in demand of power is weighing on traditional power delivery solutions.

Through Daimler’s fuel cells, Mannel said that they will be able to discover new, sustainable, cost-effective and fast ways to power their customers’ data centers.

Daimler, HPE and Power Innovations will be rethinking power generation and include hydrogen storage, as well as fuel cell systems to provide power directly to the racks of computer servers housed in data centers.

To put it briefly, the companies’ idea is to have the basic power supply of the data center covered by solar power stations and wind turbines.

In the event that solar and wind electrical generation goes beyond the total electricity demand of the data center, the excess power will be used to create and store hydrogen, which will then be used by hydrogen fuel cells to provide sustainable power in case a power outage occurs.   

Perhaps what makes this automotive fuel cell application appealing is that it helps simplify data center power generation and allocation with a considerably reduced carbon footprint.         

Power Innovations’ chairman and chief executive Robert Mount said that the data is just the first stop on their journey to change how they harness renewable energy, adding that they can achieve their vision of a safer and renewable future for their customers within a short period of time.  

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