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10,000 Cows Can Power 1,000 Servers

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the cattle-computing dept.

Power 221

CWmike writes "Reducing energy consumption in data centers, particularly with the prospect of a federal carbon tax, is pushing vendors to explore an ever-growing range of ideas. HP engineers say that biogas may offer a fresh alternative energy approach for IT managers. Researchers at HP Labs presented a paper (download PDF) on using cow manure from dairy farms and cattle feedlots and other 'digested farm waste' to generate electricity to an American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference, held this week. In it, the research team calculates that 'a hypothetical farm of 10,000 dairy cows' could power a 1 MW data center — or on the order of 1,000 servers. One trend that makes the idea of turning organic waste into usable power for data centers is the moves by several firms to build facilities in rural locations, where high-speed networks allow them to take advantage of the cost advantages of such areas. But there are some practical problems, not the least of which is connecting a data center to the cows. If it does happen, the move could call for a new take on plug and play: plug and poo."

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221 comments

matrix (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275868)

Humans in a matrix is next...

Re:matrix (4, Funny)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275878)

Well its not matrix, its moo-trix

Re:matrix (2, Funny)

Some.Net(Guy) (1733146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275886)

or the poo-trix

Re:matrix (1)

mewt (1057562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275914)

Neo will be so poo-ed off!

Re:matrix (1)

PhetusPolice (934823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276420)

And the Kung Pow Cow will be imbued with the Prime Program, giving him the ability to freely manipulate the simulated reality of the mootrix !

Re:matrix (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276636)

Or of course, we could all stop eating meat and drinking milk, the production of which is incredibly energy intensive, not to mention completely unnatural (you cannot have 6 billion carnivores or omnivores, of the size of human beings, living on a planet the size of Earth).
The energy that is wasted producing meat and milk would be far better used to grow crops that humans can eat directly. We are not supposed to be carnivores.

(Cue the knee jerk reactions from the 'intelligent' Slashdot crowd, who have never thought any of this through in their entire lives...)

Re:matrix (4, Interesting)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276716)

I'm an intelligent slashdot crowd, and I'm vegan you insensitive clod!

But in essence, I agree (I mean read my handle). So I want to rephrase your question a little.... Ok given our current cow-poo management policies, it seems like it would make sense to get electricity from it, but if people we to stop eating cows, drinking, milk, dedicating land to cows, the land and water that is used for raising cattle (and growing grain to feel the cattle), could be used much more effectively. I think in order to be fair, we need to compare a cow-poop scheme to a growing mustard, and producing biodiesel from it scheme.

Of course given that we are engaged in this wasteful misuse/abuse of animals, I don't see anything wrong with using the poop. I would surmise that the energy generate from cow-poop is less than the energy needed to run the tractors to feed the cows. But I'm not anti-poop digestion at all. I think humanure is probably one of the greatest sources of untapped energy.... (insert human poop jokes here) But seriously, why aren't we looking at running data centers (or at least their generators) off humanure? Centralized poop collection must become culturally acceptable!

Re:matrix (5, Funny)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277174)

Eat what you want but I did not make it this far up the food chain just to eat grass....

Re:matrix (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276776)

The energy that is wasted producing meat and milk would be far better used to grow crops that humans can eat directly.

I agree, but it is much easier to increase the efficiency of farming than it is to make humans give up its products. I'm a vegetarian, but I'd need a much more convincing argument than that to give up cheese. By using power generated from byproducts of farming (which, by the way, a lot of farms do already, so this isn't really news), we can increase the efficiency of farming and reduce the environmental impact of meat and dairy consumption now, rather than in a hundred years once we've convinced everyone to become vegan.

We are not supposed to be carnivores

I'll have to have a word with my intelligent designer about that, and ask why he gave me these canine teeth that look like they're designed for tearing meat apart...

Re:matrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276962)

Or of course, we could all stop eating meat and drinking milk, the production of which is incredibly energy intensive, not to mention completely unnatural (you cannot have 6 billion carnivores or omnivores, of the size of human beings, living on a planet the size of Earth).
The energy that is wasted producing meat and milk would be far better used to grow crops that humans can eat directly. We are not supposed to be carnivores.

(Cue the knee jerk reactions from the 'intelligent' Slashdot crowd, who have never thought any of this through in their entire lives...)

No one's stopping you from offing yourself to help relieve some of that population pressure.

Oh, wait, I forgot. You're one of the GOOD people that's BETTER than everyone else.

FOAD, you arrogant shit. Literally.

Re:matrix (4, Interesting)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277038)

(Cue the knee jerk reactions from the 'intelligent' Slashdot crowd, who have never thought any of this through in their entire lives...)

You must be terribly disappointed with the responses; one agree, one "agree, but...". For my part I'd agree that it's clear that growing plants then eating them is going to be more efficient than growing plants to feed to animals that we then eat, but I think it's more realistic to seek to increase the efficiency of farming animals than just give up on animal products.

not to mention completely unnatural (you cannot have 6 billion carnivores or omnivores, of the size of human beings, living on a planet the size of Earth) [...] We are not supposed to be carnivores.

The unnatural part is that there's so many of us, which is enabled primarily by agriculture. Before we started farming, hunting (and the implied eating of meat) was a major source of energy-dense food and we're 'supposed' to be omnivores; we didn't fuel the massive expansion in the size of our brains by eating grass/leaves, bark and roots like the other apes. Fruit has more energy, but it's not the most dependable food if you're foraging rather than farming.

Now that we do have agriculture, maybe we could survive quite well on plants alone, but that's the result of a few thousand years of improving farming methods and selective breeding. The hundreds of thousands or millions of years of evolution prior to that have set us up as omnivores, not vegans, and therein lies the flaw in your plans - generally speaking, any idea to improve society that requires people to act against their nature isn't going to work out, no matter how much sense it might make that things would be better if they did. See also communism ("Let's share" is nice enough, but people don't work that way en masse).

Hell, even while agreeing that it would be more efficient to just farm plants for food, I'm thinking that I don't want to give up meat... it tastes really good and I like eating it. That in itself is something of a demonstration that we're designed to eat the stuff; if we weren't built that way then why would so many of us want to carry on eating it?

Re:matrix (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276112)

But in this case it isn't your "electricity" they would be after. It's your biogas. Using big, lubricated hoses.

And all this in the name of changing a human being to a gas pump.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275880)

sorry, i just had to.

Couldn't they just hook it up to the IT staff? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275888)

The IT staff is already there and at least for me personally, after some late night debugging with a pretty poor diet I have produced some ... Um.... "energy rich by-products"

Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (5, Funny)

andrewbaldwin (442273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275892)

... Bullshit!

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276022)

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276024)

Sound's like the music-industry...

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (1)

shri (17709) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276176)

Holy cow... that was bullshit???

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276294)

The most abundant energy source in history! You, sir, deserve a Nobel Prize.

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276394)

Bullshit, eh? I'd hate to drink some of the "milk" from this dairy farm.

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (1)

angelwolf71885 (1181671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276526)

ide hate to be the guy milking them sounds like a job for mike rowe

Re:Confirmed! the IT industry runs on ... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276440)

Boole shit.

Haven't got a cow, man.

How many flops is that?

Is that a real server farmer in the Dell?

missing clubbed baby seal option (1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275894)

please can we just go back to the good old days when green peace was outraged about cutting down trees and spray painted baby seals blue, which were then eaten by polar bears because they could no longer hide in the snow.

the constant contridictions made by the global warming crowd hurts my head. methane was a bad gas last week?

Re:missing clubbed baby seal option (2, Informative)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276000)

methane was a bad gas last week?
Still is if you release it into the atmosphere, especially if it came from somewhere where it has been locked up for centuries.
As fuel, though, it can be a good thing, especially if you got it by having some grass suck the carbon out of the air before using a cow to convert that carbon into an easily-usable form such as methane.

Re:missing clubbed baby seal option (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276304)

how are you going to trap 10,000 cow farts? i know they are talking about digesting manure here, but i remmeber reading a rabid anti macdonalds article somewhere about how cow farts are contributing to global warming.

Re:missing clubbed baby seal option (2, Insightful)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276348)

After you solve that one, you still have to find a company whose techies want to live surrounded (or uncomfortably close to) quite a large amount of cows farthing, hundreds if not thousands of miles from the nearest Apple Store.

Re:missing clubbed baby seal option (1)

angelwolf71885 (1181671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276558)

i know i miss the days when green peace just hung banners on the back of oil tankers ( on a side note the banners said i brake for fat chicks )

Plug and poo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275922)

That's backwards! Surely it's more poo and plug...

Re:Plug and poo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275990)

It's still plug and play, since I like to play in poop.

I smell... oh, never mind. (3, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275934)

Anyway, how many cow's worth is it going to take to cart around all these tonnes of shit to the nearest power plant?

Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (3, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275946)

I wonder how hard is to create a closed artificial environment with cows, plants that feed them. All powered with sun for the plants and manure for everything else; including the robots that manage everything.

Then I wonder if cows and their food can live in space.

Re:Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (5, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276014)

Then I wonder if cows and their food can live in space.

They already do. What you mean is "how much smaller can you make a spaceship in which cows & their food are living".

Re:Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276100)

Heh. I should've said "in a low gravity environment".

But now I think that we could build one of those rotating rings, with clear walls so the sun reaches the grass.

I can see it now. The guy jogging around, dodging the cows as he goes around the circle.

New exercise: Imagining this toroidal clear ship, with grass oriented towards the center, which would be the optimal orientation to the sun?

- Perpendicular: to receive the same amount of sun everywhere. Put mirrors to get a better light angle and simulate night by making the walls opaque.
- Diagonal: In a sharp angle to avoid the sunny part being shadowed by the other side of the torus. However, in that case, how big would the torus have to be to have reasonable days and nights and eathlike gravity?

Re:Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (2, Informative)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276146)

how big would the torus have to be to have reasonable days and nights and eathlike gravity?

a radius of 42000km

Re:Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276246)

a radius of 42000km

Wouldn't that generate an artificial gravity equal to that of the earth at 42000km of altitude?

Re:Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276602)

Parent confused radius and perimeter. No biggie. Unless you're NASA.

Re:Today, rural locations. Tomorrow (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277052)

Wouldn't that generate an artificial gravity equal to that of the earth at 42000km of altitude?

Oops, you do have a point. But it would equal gravity at 36000km of altitude (the 42000km include the earth radius of 6000km).

So, in order to get gravity like at ground level, the station would need to much larger, more like 1500000km. Or rotate much faster than once per day.

and they have milk for the coffee (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275960)

and can lubricate the harddrives with butter *g*

outsourcing opportunity!!! (0, Offtopic)

iamwhtiam (1664747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275994)

Its funny, as in India its being used as a fuel since decades in rural areas. Now companies can outsource this too ;)

Doesn't poo add nutients back to the earth? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276004)

Are we not just removing more from the earth. I though the poo adds nutrients back into the earth. It allows plants to grow, in the form of compost.

Powered by Shit (3, Funny)

black_penguin (621675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276070)

Giving "Powered by shit" a new dimension and meaning :)

Oh, now I get it! (1)

lokpest (1136949) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276080)

So this is what "This APT has Super Cow Powers" was about all along!

Care not to upset Ag Industry (0)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276082)

To sell this they would have to not focus on the huge waste cows and the cattle industry put into the environment. I would recommend they just sell it on some economic benefits to farmers. If it is sold as a method that utilizes some of the massive waste dairy imparts on the environment, it'll get killed by farmer lobby groups faster than you can say Methane Tax.

plug and poo, hilarious.. (1)

ajeeyunz (1815688) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276090)

looks like a good start for our greenie environment! Otherwise, if we can make that "smell-less", that will be a great invention.

Wait... (4, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276110)

Wouldn't it be more economical to simply directly use the energy that otherwise would have been used to raise the cattle in the first place, i.e. growing, harvesting and transporting the feed?

Away with you! (3, Funny)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276536)

We won't listen to any logic and reason here! No, sir! Who do you think we are!? Where do you think this is!? What you speak of is madness, sir.

Re:Wait... (3, Insightful)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276632)

Too logical. Same thing as electric cars: you get the illusion of not depending on petroleum by increasing the distance between you and the gas pump.

Re:Wait... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276926)

Coal isn't petroleum.

Re:Wait... (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277152)

S**t isn't petroleum either, I was just trying to draw a parallel to this:

Wouldn't it be more economical to simply directly use the energy that otherwise would have been used to raise the cattle in the first place, i.e. growing, harvesting and transporting the feed?

BTW cows are not electric, so we woudn't be burning coal to raise them and gather their manure and move it somewhere else (with probably non-electric vehicles) and use it to produce electricity. And if we did, why not just burn the coal for electricity and leave the cows alone? Poor cows. Do you want to feed them with coal you insensitive clod?

Re:Wait... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277186)

I just want you to say fossil fuels when that is what you mean.

Re:Wait... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276790)

It would be more efficient, although more economical is less certain. You will then need to find some way of reducing the market for cattle products, such as milk, leather, and meat, or another farm will simply expand and you'll be wasting the same amount of usable energy.

Cow power here I come! (1)

Scozza (707247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276116)

That's great news! I have 5 cows so I'll be hooking them up to my server ASAP!

What, 27 comments... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276132)

... and not one Dell joke?

Re:What, 27 comments... (3, Insightful)

lazn (202878) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276306)

Don't you mean Gateway and their formerly famous cow boxes?

Re:What, 27 comments... (2, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276482)

I thought he meant HP, which can now mean Heifer Power!

Mahana you ugly (4, Funny)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276134)

I guess she's a ten cow server

shmoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276136)

cant wait for shmoo con

How many libraries of Congress... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276168)

...is this?

Seriously. Every time I see such stupid headlines, I cringe (and that's quite often these days, that's why I'm becoming ever grumpier).

10000 cows => 1MW. OK. That's all we need to know.

Besides, they're allotting 1KW per server. Power hungry, those HP servers, ain't they?

Energy to move the waste to the data center (2, Insightful)

techmuse (160085) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276174)

How much energy is required to collect the waste and move it to the burning facility? Also, how much methane and CO2 is emitted when the energy is extracted from the waste? The calculation needs to take the entire system into account, not just the cost of the electricity.

Unfortunately above poster doesn't know shit (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276970)

How much energy is required to collect the waste and move it to the burning facility?

To use a common Australian term - shitloads of energy. However since it's very easy stuff to move you get several shitloads of energy back per load of shit especially if you can get gravity to do a lot of the work for you.
As for methane - that's your fuel so almost nothing is released. As for carbon dioxide - not much since methane doesn't have much carbon and you get far more energy per unit of carbon than longer chains of hydrocarbon.
In fact this is all so easy that many sewerage treatment plants have been burning methane for power for decades, not to mention a lot of the stuff was used in WWII. As a primary source of power huge hydro and coal plants are of course a lot cheaper but methane has been cheap enough to use in specific circumstances for a very long time.
There's not much better for "green" credentials than methane - even the coal industry is busy chasing environmental funding with coal bed methane since less CO2 is released per Watt that way than just about everything (only about twice the CO2 per Watt of a theoretically perfect nuke plant that has never been built yet - nukes run off processed rocks too guys which means NOTHING has zero emissions).

Old news (4, Funny)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276194)

As I remember there is already a site that can power a sever with Tucows. What was its name again?

Re:Old news (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277102)

Plus, there's already a project for cracking encryption and other mathematical challenges using bovine power [distributed.net] .

A whole new meaning to server farm. (2, Funny)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276214)

and if we use to render the next Avatar movie the cycle is complete.

Beyond the Thunderdome (1)

kondziu (1543467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276266)

Now all anyone needs is a former engineer to run it, and a big dumb guy to be his muscle and we're all set for the future.

You'll need Debian though, because... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276284)

... because only apt has super cow powers.

I prefer... (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276592)

Cowbuntu.

Ok Providing CO2 Less Harmful Than CH4 (2, Interesting)

Fleetie (603229) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276310)

That's what this seems to rely on: The conversion of methane (CH4) to CO2 by combustion. Is CH4 a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2? I seem to remember it is, but I'm not sure.

Re:Ok Providing CO2 Less Harmful Than CH4 (1)

cheesewire (876598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277016)

Is CH4 a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2? I seem to remember it is, but I'm not sure.

As far as I recall methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas, but not so long-lived in the atmosphere, while carbon dioxide's effects are lesser, but much longer lived. Which wikipedia agrees with [wikipedia.org] .

So I guess in reality the answer's pretty complicated, requiring that we look at the cumulative costs going into the future.

There is no (4, Funny)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276338)

I would just like to say
There is no cow level

10 cows per server... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276340)

10,000 cows, 1000 servers.
25 acres per cow, 250 acres per server.
1000 servers, 250,000 acres.
1 acre is .0015625 square miles.
390 square miles of prarie for 1000 servers.

To put that in perspective, that's close to 20 miles by 20 miles of grassland with 10000 cows on it to power 1000 servers.

btw, you're probably going to lose out on the ground because when you take away the manure, you're interrupting the natural process whereby animal waste goes back into the soil to provide nutrients for the grass to grow again.

Re:10 cows per server... (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276762)

Except you can still use the cows for meat/dairy while using their shit to produce electricity.

and the shit can still be spread onto a field after it has been depleted of methane. so really you are not dedicating 390 square miles to running a bunch of servers

Already being done... (5, Informative)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276412)

...here in Germany and Austria, where a lot of larger farms invested into a biogas plant; they sell the electric power they generate to the national grid, at slightly preferential rates. One large farm, my last client, runs a 500 kW plant, without anyone making a fuss or being amazed about it.

Re:Already being done... (4, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276614)

So how do you say "I, for one, welcome our bovine overlords" in German? ;-)

I've long wondered about the short-sightedness of modern farming practices where farmers need to buy both seeds and fertilizer each year to produce a crop, when once upon a time in the not-to-distant past, both were free, and in the present, the abundance of animal waste has become an environmental problem.

I mention that because I've read stories of other countries doing what you're doing in German and Austria. In the Netherlands, for example, I've read of manufacturers that operate in such a way that the waste and by-products of both farms and factory are integrated in a near-closed loop not only with respect to materials, but also energy production.

The conclusions from these case studies is that location is key. While that may be true, I'm left wondering why, if location is so important, shipping by rail isn't just as cost effective? Certainly it's good to have things close, but the city of Chicago was built around the processing of cattle that were shipped from other parts of the country directly to "factory" spurs, and the finished "product" distributed from. If shipping by rail is cheap enough for cows (and similarly cheap for coal, oil, corn, water, among any number of other products), why wouldn't it be cheap enough for cow (or any other kind of animal) waste?

Re:Already being done... (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277054)

So how do you say "I, for one, welcome our bovine overlords" in German? ;-)

Heil Heifer!

Re:Already being done... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276626)

Yay! let me comment, I am actually working on this... kind of.

In my project we are looking at one region in eastern Germany which has invested a *lot* of money in this BioEnergy technology.

There are a lot of advantages for farmers, although there is one slight problem: It still depends a lot on the subsidies.

Bio-energy producers get paid a constant electricity price, they also get some extra subsidies if they use manure (instead of pure corn and other fodder). It is well known that if there were no subsidies, the technology would not be profitable.

I have visited about 3 or 4 bio-energy plants. They are indeed quite interesting (although also quite smelly!)

Re:Already being done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277194)

That's what I was thinking... I believe that there are over 4000 of such installations in Germany. The surrounding countries are using it as well, although not on the scale of the Germans.

You can also mix in a lot of agricultural waste to increase gas production.

It's simply called "anaerobic digestion", or "biogas"...

Large Rural Data Centers (1)

jamesl (106902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276450)

One trend that makes the idea of turning organic waste into usable power for data centers is the moves by several firms to build facilities in rural locations, where high-speed networks allow them to take advantage of the cost advantages of such areas.

An example of this trend is the world's largest, the Lakeside Technology Center (sounds rural enough) located ... in downtown Chicago.
http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/special-report-the-worlds-largest-data-centers/worlds-largest-data-center-350-e-cermak/ [datacenterknowledge.com]

Ahh... (1)

robinvanleeuwen (1009809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276486)

See that that USB meat grinder wasn't a waste of money....

Steak/Server tradeoff? (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276490)

So if I want a frickin' steak I have to sacrifice a server? Easy decision - yummmm!

Should use horses on treadmills (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276494)

If 10,000 cows can produce 1 megawatt of power, which is 1,314 horsepower, surely it would be more efficient to use the output of 1,314 horses running on treadmills instead? That's about 1 horse to 7.5 cows, meaning big savings on space which is great for a data-centre. Even greater efficiencies could be had if the waste from the horses was used in the manner intended for the cow waste.

Don't even think about using hamsters in wheels though, because they'll only generate a useful 1/2072 horsepower [allexperts.com] each, which means you need about 2.7 million hamsters to generate 1 MW. I think the overhead of cage and wheel cleaning would become prohibitive at that point.

Nope, cows is still better (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276520)

If you decided to use horses, you would have to make a setup to move horses on treadmill. Horses which sit all day, will eat extra food.
Now with cows, all this poo is anyways going to be there. Cows give milk, thats the main product. Its just that the waste also is being put to use.

Re:Nope, cows is still better (4, Funny)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276802)

Do you realize how much milk 2.7 million hamsters could produce?

Re:Should use horses on treadmills (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276944)

It would probably be more effective to just burn the horses.

oh crap... (1)

Schoenlepel (1751646) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276510)

just says it all.

physcial server-farms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276562)

Consolidating a physical server-farm to tens or hundreds of virtual linux servers running on an IBM mainframe under z/VM can significantly reduce power needs.

Using cows to create power is certainly clever but wouldn't it be more efficient to reduce the power requirements to begin with? Using the cows seems to me to be putting your efforts at the wrong end of the pipe, so to speak.

I suggest this from hands on experience in a z/Linux environment.

Of course this may not be the solution for everyone but I note that most of the outside "knowledge" about this tends to be a lot of self-serving marketing mis-direction. You know, "treat them like mushrooms..."

Physical server-farms? How quaint...

how long (1)

tris203 (1768578) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276606)

until animal supporters say it should be the cows choice if its manure is used to generate power..

Plug and serve (1)

tronkel (1128393) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276670)

One bull can serve 10,000 cows ;-O

Re:Plug and serve (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276942)

That's... a lotta fuckin'.

We could expand this concept (1)

grizdog (1224414) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276730)

Cows have magnets in their first stomach - farmers and ranchers throw them in there so that any metal the inadvertently swallow won't go any further and will get barfed up with the magnet.

Just put big coils of wire out in the fields or the dairy barns and have the cows constantly walking through them (in the same direction - that's the tricky part) and generate electricity.

Re:We could expand this concept (3, Funny)

Amarantine (1100187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276930)

I assume we can also use other magnets to rotate the magnets in the cow's stomachs, and use them for data storage! Ok, right now 1 bit per cow might seem a bit low, but we're working on that. We might consider describing the capacity as 1Mb (one moo-bit), for marketing reasons.

Fresh alternative, eh? (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276838)

"HP engineers say that biogas may offer a fresh alternative energy approach for IT managers. Researchers at HP Labs presented a paper (download PDF) on using cow manure from dairy farms and cattle feedlots and other 'digested farm waste' to generate electricity..."

Not really so fresh after all then...

"Cow Power" is in production NOW in Vermont (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276848)

The state of Vermont has had its Cow Power [cvps.com] program available in production for a few years now. The primary power company in the state, Central Vermont Public Service, has been driving the expansion of this alternative energy. To my understanding the primary problem is that there is far more demand from CVPS subscribers for this form of energy then there currently are producers. The bottom line however is that this type of energy is in a broad-use production, feeding the power grid in Vermont...

A new SI unit is born (1)

somecoffeemug (1680420) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276854)

Maybe this could become the new unit by which we measure the power consumption of computers. Like my laptop requires 10 cowpower - why not, they use horsepower for cars :)

Research team? (1)

Poodleboy (226682) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276866)

"An idea sketched out by a [HP] research team?" At least the reporter corrected HP's claim to innovation. In fact, here in VT, CVPS has been doing this for years [cvps.com] ...

poo-gas! (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276960)

Guitierrez: So... graphite bars charged with negative ions. That is your weakness, eh? Freakazoid: That, or poo gas. Guitierrez: You know, it's a funny thing. Nobody likes poo gas, my friend. Blagh!

The biggest problem is NOT harnessing the cows (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276992)

The biggest problem is the soil depletion from removing the cow's fertilizer production from the field.

Re:The biggest problem is NOT harnessing the cows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277206)

True, but since methane is CH4, the only nutrient that gets depleted is carbon, which is a rather common substance.

Biomethane production, if done right, does not deplete nitrogen or phosphor or minerals. Those are leftovers from the production process that can be returned to the soil.

Biomethane is probably just a stepping stone to hydrogen or liquid synthetic fuels anyway.

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277032)

The power company here has been using cow power for years http://cvps.com/cowpower/

Checking date.... (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277068)

....no, it isn't the first day in April.

Animal Power is not reliable (2, Interesting)

tronicum (617382) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277076)

Well, you probably dont want to have your servers depending on cows (or any other animals). There are some circumstances that they will fail:
  • animal disease (e.g. mad cow disease). government might order to kill them to spread its growth.
  • crop failure, crop prices. cows depend on food, if a crop failure/desease happens, crop prices will go up, so will be their food, as probably their poo as well.

Beside that, bio-energy does not count the CO needed for stuffing the animal with food, so you might to count all the chemicals, fuel and machinery a farmer will use to grow that animal into account.
Given those unreliableness, you would have to have a long time backup energy for that (like it would take time to get new, uninfected animals in case of an disease).

That given in account I would'nt go for poo-energy and stay with an alternative mix of green energy.

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