Microsoft announced in early November that its Cheyenne data center is now officially a zero-emission facility. The company has stated that the Wyoming data center is the first zero-carbon facility in the U.S. to run completely off of wastewater byproducts.
To take the prototype facility off the grid, Microsoft is using fuel cell technology paired with methane biogas emitted from a wastewater treatment plant nearby. The tech giant partnered with Siemens' Energy Management unit to make the site functional. Biogas from the neighboring treatment plat is fed to the fuel cells which then turn the methane into electricity used to run the site. An electrochemical reaction converts the gas into usable power, meaning no emissions are released in the process.
Any excess power generated by the conversion will be sent to local utilities, reducing the environmental impact of the data center even further. The fuel cells are expected to create approximately 150 kW more than needed to power the Wyoming data center, so the additional energy will be redirected back to the wastewater facility.
The Cheyenne facility is part of a larger expansion of Microsoft's data center portfolio. The company is investing nearly $275 million into new sites in the Western states. While it has been growing its physical presence, Microsoft has also been increasing its efforts to achieve greater data center sustainability. In October, the company announced it had met its goal of having all new Microsoft data centers operate with a PUE of 1.25 – much lower than the industry average of 1.7. The tech giant was also able to meet its commitment to carbon neutrality through the use of internal efficiency projects, more than 3 billion kWh of renewable energy and a carbon offset initiative that represents more than 600,000 metric tons of emissions.