Facebook has made a multi-year commitment to work with a
UT Arlington engineer for a National Science Foundation project related to
keeping massive data centers more energy efficient.
The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that the
energy used in 2006 by the data center industry was 1.5 percent of the total nationwide
energy usage. Experts agree that this usage will top 2 percent soon. As such, savings
related to data centers’ efficiency could be in the millions for companies with
large data centers such as Facebook.
UT Arlington’s Dereje Agonafer is part of a cooperative
research center whose focus will be finding more efficient and greener ways to
run giant data centers. Agonafer is a mechanical and aerospace engineering
The University of Texas at
Arlington is joining Binghamton and Villanova universities in forming the
Industry/University Cooperative Research Center in Energy-Efficient Electronic
Systems. Binghamton will serve as the consortium’s main center but each campus
center will focus on various challenges in attaining energy efficiency.
Facebook is one of 15 companies
signed up to be consortium members. Others firms include data heavyweights like
Microsoft, General Electric, Commscope, Bloomberg, General Electric, Corning
Inc., Endicott Interconnect Technologies, Emerson Network Power, Verizon and
The consortium will focus initially on the data centers. Energy
spent on running data and telecommunications centers in the United States is
about 3 percent of the total national energy expenditure, which is enough to
power a couple of good-sized cities for most of a year.
Facebook is pledging $50,000 in
the first year of Agonafer’s research. That pledge is renewable for up to five
Agonafer said his focus would
find better ways to cool data centers, ways to make air flow more economical,
ways to create sustainability savings and determine effects of airborne
contaminants on data center equipment.
“Working with these businesses
gives us leverage into implementing our research activities in the marketplace,”
Agonafer said just a small yield
in efficiencies could translate to millions of dollars in savings because these
companies’ computing centers are so large.
“Those are some big names in
data,” Agonafer said. “We’ve had a longtime relationship with Commscope.
Facebook thought enough of our research to contribute. Other companies could
He said one aspect that
attracted the National Science Foundation to UT Arlington is that the
University has all the components needed for this research. He said UT
Arlington has an electronic cooling lab, a nanofab facility, the Automation
Robotics & Research Institute, a manufacturing assistance center and an
aerodynamics research center. He said all of those UT Arlington components could
play a part in meeting some of the energy-efficiency challenges.
Veerendra Mulay, a consortium
member from Facebook, said, “the consortium will play a key role in addressing
cooling design issues in the dynamic data center business.”
The consortium will address
energy-efficiency problems from across many disciplines, said Bahgat Sammakia,
interim vice president for research at Binghamton University and the center’s
“The center will provide the kind of answers that leaders
in the electronics industry are looking for,” Sammakia said. “Each of the
center’s academic partners has expertise in a particular area and by tapping
into these individual strengths, we will collectively find the answers to some
of the industry’s most challenging practical problems.”
for more information about Agonafer’s center and this site
for more about the professor.
The University of Texas at
Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,421 in the heart of
North Texas. For more information, please visit www.uta.edu.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.