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Earth Day

So I know a few people are still following my blog. I haven’t posted much since I joined AWS as they have some more restrictive policies about contributing to blogs, but I did want to take another moment to acknowledge Earth Day.

Despite what many might feel as some new policy shifts that will be damaging to our environment, I still believe there room to celebrate. Renewable technologies keep growing and developing, creating many great blue collar jobs as well as helping to solve our energy problems. Every year, the technologies which might enable a 100% renewable future get stronger and that possibility becomes more likely. Although some scary points have been crossed with regard to CO2 and other scary indicators, developing and exploding countries are planning for and pursuing renewable futures. China and India are great examples in that although for sure they are still getting a lot of power from fossil fuels, they are looking to the future and very real problems about our carbon powered existing are literally in their face every day. They understand action must be taken and they are working towards the future.

While US nuclear power has hit major setbacks (Fukushima disaster has certainly pushed public opinion against it, and the bankruptcy of Westinghouse / Toshiba will have significant implications), it’s use continues to expand in China as a bridge to a fully renewable future. Research into increasingly safe, stable, affordable and appropriate sized reactor designs continues, and in perhaps in another 15 years a cost feasible path forward for nuclear in the US might exist.

Solar costs are continuing to fall (becoming attractive even in the absence of subsidy), and growth of capacity in wind continues. Countries that are 100% renewable do rely on hydroelectric or hydrothermal power, but many others are addressing a considerable portion of their energy needs through solar and wind power, while tidal sources are being developed further.

Storage solutions are improving which some day may facilitate intermittent sources like wind and solar to power our constant energy demands. The most ambitious of business magnates are even thinking about how to colonize other planets.

So once again, there are many reasons to celebrate again this Earth Day.


Earth Day has come and gone again…

Another Earth day has passed. While we are a few minutes closer to midnight (, some things are looking up.

While I work hard to save energy in my daily life and in my career choices, sometimes I can feel a little helpless. I know I accomplish some significant things, but then I watch some documentary about the slash in burns in Indonesia, and how they are just complete carbon bombs and it almost feels like whats the point. While I probably can’t get the planet to kick its palm oil habit, I’ll still do everything I can to save water, electricity and money.

I think we are finally seeing the impacts of our actions on the environment, and California and its drought (whether its cyclical or human influenced isn’t the point) are showing the nation the pain of running headlong into running out of a resource. I mean, things are really, really bad there. The drought extends to other areas of the country ( but the fact is that the state that produces an incredible amount of produce and dairy for the world is running out of water. It’s scary is what it is.

I think we’ve been taking electricity and petroleum seriously for quite some time, but we really need to start taking water seriously. Where we expend lots of water to reduce our electricity usage, we are going to have to start paying attention to the trade off (does the use of water on site offset the use of electricity and its use of water at the source).

We all make trade offs, raising supply air temperatures is a trade off on energy and equipment longevity, using water can be a trade off between even higher inlet temperatures and water consumption, we trade off availability to use energy savings modes in UPSs, and we trade burning dinosaurs for the assurance that the generators we rely on will start when we need them.

Evaluating those trade offs, as a publicly traded company, means measuring the decisions to maximize shareholder value. Using the best data we have and the best, the most thorough evaluations, and prudent brave decision making, the free market will help determine a green path as limited resources become scarcer and more expensive. Taxes and regulation can help ensure that true costs are accounted for (for example, extra taxes on coal burning power to account for the human health costs, the permanent environmental impacts from the coal ash, and the global warming impacts) but they often end up leveraged by particular special interests and fail to represent the true costs.

So how can you win? Well there are solutions that win on all fronts. Using VFDs and slowing down all your fans, for example, is on way to drive down consumption. It represents what I would call a win-win-win, less energy used, less water required for a cooling plant, and ultimately more reliability in cooling plant as the load from the air handlers fans is lower and reserves more capacity for IT cooling. Being smarter and better can help you find these win-win-win situations, and it also makes you look really good to your coworkers.

Just some incoherent thoughts, you know I like to ramble on earth day. Its hard to talk about my work too much anymore (we are very tight lipped at AWS) but I am still out there doing the good work, I promise!

A “Fan”tastic Post

Are you a fan of fans? Centrifugal (I prefer to call Centripetal but that’s a tale for another day), Axial,¬†Cross flow, whichever you like, fans can prove to be a challenging topic. A recent series in the Ashrae Journal discusses industrial fans, but what got me thinking about the topic of fans was a much smaller situation. PC computer fans.


Your standard 120 mm PC fan is a fairly homogenous product, but there also exist other fans in the same frame size with considerably higher energy use, cfm, and static pressure capability. These fans can be used to cool equipment, like say a bitcoin miner or a 4U server, sometimes coupled with a direct chip to water to air setup (something like this).

So which use of fans is best? 1 really impressive fan (like this) or 2 run of the mill fans stacked or 2 run of the mill fans next to each other (like these). The single fan consumes 30 watts, while the 2 fans consume 4 watts each. The 30 watt fan moves 240 cfm, while the cheapo fan moves 70 cfm. How much air do you need, and how much static pressure do you need? These fans get slapped in an application but they won’t move that same air volume with any resistance. That’s where the fan curves come into play.

Fan Curves Continue reading A “Fan”tastic Post

PUE 1.0: Mission Impossible. But how low can you go?

Everyone knows how hard it is to continue to improve PUE. I’ve even included a graphic representation of how spending can influence your PUE:spendvspueSo we all know our struggles, and as the industry matures it becomes easier to increase efficiency under a given budget constraint. But the general idea, that every dollar spent has less impact than the dollar before it (save for some hurtle points) in general will hold true.

Continue reading PUE 1.0: Mission Impossible. But how low can you go?