Thursday, 8 January 2009

Pipeline Cooling

There was an article in The Guardian in the UK yesterday about the fact that there are plans to harness the pressure inside gas pipelines to generate clean electricity.

There is an extensive gas pipeline across the UK, but the pressure at which gas passes through it is too high for domestic use, so there are apparently hundreds of sites, known as letdown stations, where pressure is released. The idea is to put small turbines inside the gas network to harness the energy from this pressure release.

Work is due to start later this year in London and the first scheme is expected to produce 20MW of electricity. If it's repeated across the country it could generate the equivalent of a typical power station.

But that's not all. When you reduce the gas pressure it produces a rapid temperature drop, typically from 10C to -30C, which is effectively free refrigeration. The company that has developed the technology to capture this potential power and the cooling (called 20C) is apparently already talking to two companies interested in putting data centres near these letdown stations.

It's another example of the broad, lateral thinking that's required in an environmentally-conscious world. It also, once again, demonstrates the fact that IT users and suppliers need to work hard at looking for innovative solutions to going green. No one has all the answers (particularly not IT companies).

© The Green IT Review

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