Just when you think things just can’t get any weirder, I read that Microsoft is working to develop a data center that runs on sewage. You read that correctly, sewage, a.k.a. human waste, a.k.a fill in your own potty level descriptor here. It’s said that necessity is “the mother of invention” but isn’t this taking things just a little too far? Microsoft says that this is yet another of their green initiatives. I say that if you’re running a data center using the byproduct of an entire state’s worth of indoor plumbing capacity you’ve probably stretched the boundaries of euphemism to the breaking point. I guess in their quest to achieve their objective of becoming carbon neutral the boys in Redmond will leave no stone unturned…or toilet seat up for that matter.
I’m always fascinated by how ideas like this come about. Many of us have been in those corporate “brain storming” sessions where half the company is squeezed into a conference room, the walls are papered with those sticky notes on steroids, and everyone is half-stoned on magic marker fumes, and heard some pretty outlandish proposals. But imagine sitting in a room when someone suggests that we should try powering the new data center with the truest form of “biogas”, and, rather than being met with murmured snickers and knowing rib jabs, someone pipes up and says, “You know, I think Phil is really on to something here”. Talk about your broad mindedness. If this is the concept that they all coalesced around, it kind of makes you wonder what they thought were the bad ideas.
Now I know some of you are sitting back making little sophomoric jokes to yourself about what the inventors of Windows are planning but let’s look at this idea a little closer. The project will be “fueled” (stop laughing, this is serious stuff here) from a wastewater plant in Wyoming. Naturally, the state is thrilled. The last time they were in the news was when Dick Cheney shot some guy on a hunting trip, so this is obviously a step up for them. Also, they say that by capturing and harnessing the biogas methane emissions normally associated with wastewater treatment,—the eau de turds will be reduced. So they’ve got that going for them. And if this plan works out won’t every state in the union be clamoring for their own Microsoft facility since they all offer the same…er, resources as Wyoming? Can you imagine the amount of megawatts that we could generate from New York City! That would put DuPont Fabros monster to shame!
Think about where this all could lead. Maybe the micro datacenters that team AOL has been deploying could team up with a line of Port-a-Potties for its own on-site generation! Manos, I expect to hear from you on this! If this doesn’t get your own creative juices flowing I don’t know what will.
In the end you all will have to draw your own conclusions. Is this just another instance of “green” fever run amuck? I for one must applaud the spirit of innovation that this new power proposal embraces. Some say this country has lost a step. I whole-heartedly disagree. Maybe we can’t send a man to the moon anymore, but we can run a data center on human excrement. Hmmm, maybe that Google pond with the gator could double as a…