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Yuval Bachar, founder of ECL, a data center development company leveraging hydrogen power accelerate data center sustainability goals. Courtesy of ECL
Yuval Bachar, founder of ECL, a data center development company leveraging hydrogen power accelerate data center sustainability goals.

ECL Launches Hydrogen-Powered Data Center Modules

Data center-as-a-service? Hyperscale data center build expert offers a product that could make it a reality.

Industry veteran Yuval Bachar has just launched a first-of-its-kind data center model harnessing the power of hydrogen. 

Some estimated the dream of unplugging data centers from ‘the grid’ would be at least 10 years out. Bachar offers that with his hydrogen-powered modular data centers, he can make that dream a reality in nine months.

One interesting element here is that Bachar’s competitors are also his customers. He envisions large colos partnering with ECL to stand up data centers in less time than it would usually take: nine months instead of two years. That reduces time-to-market and overall costs.

He also shared with Data Center Knowledge that his offering makes more efficient use of a data center’s footprint with ECL’s product being able to house four thousand traditional servers in just 100 square meters of space.

When we pressed him on the availability rate for his data centers he revealed they’re guaranteeing six 9s for customers.

Bachar, who has more than 34 years in the data center industry with firms ranging from Cisco to Microsoft, pinpointed hydrogen-powered data center modules as a key solution to the pain points in data center development he’s seen, experienced, and managed. This cuts out the challenges firms face when estimating how much space and power they need prior to a data center build. 

A Look Inside the ECL Data Center Model

Each block contains all of the data center’s logic, security, heating and cooling, and other necessary infrastructure, including the servers. Customers can opt to use their own servers or purchase servers from ECL. In essence, ECL is providing Data Center-as-a-Service opportunities for firms that wish to stand up data center operations quickly.

3-D rendering of 1 ECL Module

3-D rendering of 1 ECL Module

That speed is all thanks to the elimination of a persistent delay for data center development: connecting to the electrical grid. Bachar’s ECL business model eliminates the need for data centers to be connected to any public utilities at all due to the hydrogen that powers the data centers. 

What’s most interesting in Bachar’s model is data centers giving back to the grid instead of taking away from it. Germany has attempted to supply surrounding regions with heat, with less than stellar results. Within ECL, some of the hydrogen wastewater is used to cool the blocks with the rest going back to the community for irrigation, industrial use, and potentially as drinking water. Effectively, Bachar noted, the blocks produce zero emissions as all the water is used to benefit the facility and its community. 

Something to Keep an Eye On: Hot Weather Resilience

We noticed a drawback related to the hydrogen used to power ECL’s business model. The cryogenic liquid of the hydrogen can be challenging to store in high heat. That may be quite a challenge in regions such as South Texas, Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, and South Florida.

Bachar maintains that the total cost of ownership for an ECL data center will be roughly 30% less than a traditional data center. A primary reason is the cost of hydrogen fuel versus traditional grid-based power. Additional cost savings come from better resource planning and the ability to add modular 1MW/hour power blocks as needed.

When asked about the costs for rolling out ECL, the sourcing and transport of hydrogen in particular, Bachar shared that the Inflation Reduction Act is a big help in speeding up investment in alternative energy sources. 

Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures are funding Bachar’s initial build with a $7 million investment. ECL’s first facility is set for launch in the second quarter of 2023.

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