EdgeCloudLink (ECL), a Silicon Valley-based startup, has received $7 million in seed round funding from Hyperwise Ventures, based in Tel Aviv, and Molex Ventures, headquartered in Chicago, to drive its mission to 3D print hydrogen-powered data centers on demand. Pitching itself as a “data center-as-a-service” company, ECL will use the $7 million to create its first concrete-printed, modular data center powered with a hydrogen fuel cell stack, fed with hydrogen gas.
ECL is building the data center in a warehouse adjacent to its main office in Mountain View, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley, home to Google headquarters as well as a whole host of other major tech companies and institutions. ECL founder and CEO Yuval Bachar commented in an interview with Data Center Dynamics:
“What we’re trying to create is a zero-emission, zero water use community-integrated data center. …The reason we picked Mountain View [as the first site] is because it’s considered a relatively difficult city to work with. Our assumption was that if we can actually handle Mountain View, CA, we can probably handle it anyplace on the face of the Earth.”
Though the exact method of additive construction that the startup will use isn’t disclosed, a partner is lined up to print the facility. ECL claims, once the first project is complete, it will purchase the 3D printing equipment itself. Bachar told Data Center Dynamics that the actual construction of the data center is simple, consisting of two thin walls filled with insulation.
“They’re building homes, and our requirements are much much simpler than a home. A data center is just a rectangle. We don’t need sophisticated stuff. We don’t have windows,” Bachar said. “It’s a very, very strong structure and a very very insulated structure, which means that the elements outside have a much smaller impact on the inside.”
In addition to the hydrogen fuel cell stacks, the data centers can also draw power from the local grid. But the idea of customers’ having the ability to power the data centers with individual generators is obviously the most exciting angle to this, especially if the pilot program — which ECL is planning to complete as early as Q2 of 2023 — shows that the technology can truly achieve a net-zero carbon footprint.
That last aspect, which is as crucial to the project’s potential sustainability as the ability to produce on demand, will obviously be banking on the ready availability of hydrogen gas. Thus, in that sense, the project’s success will also be depending on the success of hydrogen-powered EVs. Although that is still certainly a long shot, California is one place where there is some such infrastructure in place, which also argues in favor of CA as the site of ECL’s pilot program.
ECL’s CEO also pointed out to Data Center Dynamics that the hydrogen-powered data centers could sell excess electricity back to the electrical grid, an increasingly common practice amongst homeowners with solar-powered residences. In turn, the product’s greatest selling point, long-term, could be its potential utility to the electrification of the power grid.
Images courtesy of ECL
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