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Dutch company Nerdalize utilises server-heat in innovative heating system

From August onwards the first Dutch households can enjoy a free shower, warmed up by the heat of computer servers. For Nerdalize, this is just the first step in their mission to provide free server-heat to everyone in the Netherlands. They’ve developed a heating system, fed by the residual heat of computer servers, which can save households around 300 euros a year on their heating bills and significantly cuts back on CO2 emissions. In datacenters this residual heat needs to be cooled away, leading to high energy usage. Through the proceeds of a crowdfunding campaign, in which more than 200 people have invested so far, Nerdalize wants to equip the first 42 households with their heating system.

In 2015 Nerdalize ran a test with Eneco, a large Dutch utility, amongst 5 households. Servers were placed in houses for a few months and the server-heat was directly transformed into usable heat via a radiator. This means Nerdalize doesn’t waste energy on cooling servers. Instead, the system uses the energy for the servers twice: once to compute and once to heat water. In the new version, the servers are connected to the central heating system. This way, the heat can be utilised throughout the year for hot water. This setup saves money for households, but also for companies and researchers. As Nerdalize does not need to build an expensive datacenter, companies and researchers can compute for 50% lower costs!

If Boaz Leupe, co-founder of Nerdalize, has his way, data is on the verge of becoming a lot greener. And not a minute too soon: already datacenters emit more CO2 than the global airline industry.

So far, 3500 people have signaled their interest in the heating system and Nerdalize is kicking off to provide the first 42 households with free server-heat. Leupe has already raised €250,000 via the crowdfunding platform Symbid, but now hopes to raise €500,000 in investment. “If we reach our target amount in a month, we can start equipping the first houses with our server-heater from August onwards!” says Boaz Leupe.

Nerdalize’ crowdfunding campaign will run until the end of June.

The installation of a server heater, the Eneco eRadiator, in the living rooms of five families at different locations in the Netherlands this month, marks the start of an exclusive field test. The test is in line with Eneco’s strategy to develop into an energy partner of its customers by introducing innovative sustainable services.

Computer servers that perform calculations generate a lot of heat. By installing these servers in people’s homes instead of centralised large data centres, the generated heat can be used to heat these homes at no cost. The purpose of the test is to collect information on customer experience and to identify possible areas of improvement of the eRadiator.

This is the first time the design radiator with built-in server is installed in ordinary households. The servers shall perform complex calculations for a variety of companies and knowledge institutes, such as new medicine-related research for Leiden University Medical Centre.The Eneco eRadiator was developed by Nerdalize, a company that was founded in 2013 by the three initiators of the idea with the aim to further develop the server heater concept. Nerdalize is located at YES!Delft, Europe’s largest tech-incubator. Eneco believes that the eRadiator offers a range of possibilities and has acquired an interest in the start-up.

A study carried out in cooperation with the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computing Science shows that companies and institutions that require a lot of processing power can reduce their costs in the area of accommodation and cooling of datacentres by 30 to 55% with the concept developed by Nerdalize. There are also environmental benefits, because the same energy is used for two different purposes: computation and heating.

It will take at the least to the end of the year to complete the field test. Eneco and Nerdalize will use the results to determine if and how the eRadiator can be made available to a larger number of customers. Interested parties who wish to stay informed of the latest developments can register by sending an email to eRadiator@eneco.com.

eRadiator