ECL set to build modular, hydrogen-powered data centers

ECL is developing hydrogen-powered data center modules that will allow companies to add capacity as needed.

assembly / architecture / modular structure / components
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ECL has announced what it says will be the world’s first modular, sustainable, off-grid data center that uses hydrogen as its primary power source, promising carbon neutral performance and 99.9999% uptime.

Modular data centers are designed to go together like building blocks, allowing companies to start small and grow as their capacity needs increase. The ECL data centers will come in 1 megawatt blocks.

ECL's data-center-as-a-service offering is geared primarily to mid-sized data center operators, as well as large companies with a mix of cloud and on-premises IT environments. It claims its data centers will have a total cost of ownership that's two-thirds of what a traditional colocation data center environment would cost when measured over five years.

The data center design from ECL consumes no local resources, including power or water, and operates with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels. This will make its data center modules ideal for remote and edge locations, the company claims.

The lack of dependence on local utilities also means that ECL data centers can be designed and delivered much faster than a traditional data center. ECL says it will reduce planning and construction cycles from between 18 to 24 months to between six and nine months.

ECL’s cooling system is entirely self-contained and enables higher density-per-rack than traditional data centers due to water cooling. Water is created as a by-product of hydrogen-based power generation and will be used to cool ECL’s server racks, eliminating the need for external water sources.

The result is an astonishing power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio. According to the Uptime Institute, the typical data center has a PUE of approximately 1.5. Some of the better hyperscalars have gotten that down to 1.1. ECL says it will achieve a PUE of 1.05 across its data centers, with up to 50 kilowatts per rack.

The company just scored $7 million in seed financing co-led by Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures. The funds will be used by ECL to expand its market presence and in the construction of its first data center at the company’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarters.


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