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Heating and cooling of buildings accounts for a substantial fraction of the world's end energy consumption. Today, the vast majority of this demand is met by the combustion of fossil fuels or by electrically driven heat pumps. At the same time, significant amounts of thermal energy are being wasted in industrial processes, including datacenters. Often, this waste heat can not be utilized because it's temperature is unsuitable. Therefore, there is a demand for heat conversion technology in order to access the enormous potential of wasted heat. Ideally, this technology should have minimal electricity consumption in order to alleviate the burden on the electricity grid which is associated with daily and seasonal variations in heating and cooling demand.
The key enabling technology is a thermally driven adsorption heat pump that provides heating and cooling, and is being developed in the context of the THRIVE project. THRIVE was a 4-year project (01.12.2014 – 31.10.2018) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in the context of the National Research Program (NRP) 70 “Energy turnaround”.
- IBM Research project page
- Summary of THRIVE project results on the NRP 70/71 website
- IBM Research blog about THRIVE project results
Energy supply and cooling is a paramount challenge in information technology. Today, air-cooled microprocessors use more packaging pins for power delivery than for communication and a million-fold larger cooler volume compared to the active elements. Redox flow electrochemistry for power delivery and cooling (REPCOOL) triggers a paradigm shift in powering and cooling computers: Liquid redox electrolytes transported through microfluidic chips provide both power and cooling via the same fluidic pathway. Successful application to highly integrated microprocessor stacks requires detailed research in the fields of redox electrochemistry and membrane science, heat and mass transport in forced convective flows as well as cell design and system-level integration. With this concept, the density and energy efficiency of computer systems may be enhanced substantially.
REPCOOL was a 45-month project (01.09.2013 - 31.05.2017) funded by Grant No. 147661 within the Sinergia program of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The project was coordinated by IBM Research and was a collaborative effort between IBM Research, Paul Scherrer Institut, ETH Zurich and USI Lugano.