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19 May, 2011 - 14:43 By Tony Quested

Cambridge cooltech company wows the world

Andrew Jones

A Cambridge CleanTech startup taking the heat out of industry with cutting edge technology is in line for its second major award after wooing customers as diverse as egg farmers and energy giants.

 

ideaSpace-based Alquist only launched six months ago but its cooltech is already hot property. Its hi-tech device called Celsius is not only taking the temperature of industry but also could save UK firms millions of pounds in energy savings.

Celsius uses fibre optic cable to take thousands of temperature readings at an accuracy of 0.01°c.

The technology has already attracted considerable interest from a range of industries where temperature regulation is business-critical.

In particular the young company has been working with data centres –  facilities that provide computer servers for a number of web-based business, banks and other online services.

Data centres can house thousands of computer servers which need to work within set temperature limits. Too hot and the servers can overheat, but the more air conditioning they use to control heat rise, the more their energy costs soar.

Andrew Jones, founder and managing director, said: “The ability to accurately measure fluctuations in temperature is absolutely crucial to these businesses, not only for operational requirements, but also in terms of reducing cost.

“Energy prices are rising; new legislation and related taxation measures mean they need to reduce emissions. Our product helps them to achieve this.

“People don’t realise that Data Centres consume three per cent of the UK’s total energy output and this is set to double by 2015; they need to reduce the amount of energy they use.

“Some of our customers are spending millions of pounds on energy. Our technology will help reduce this spend by around 25 per cent.”

The Celsius unit is able to take real-time temperature readings and send alerts to centre managers when action needs to be taken.

The entrepreneur, who started his first business – selling computer games for Spectrum and BBC Micros – while still at school, said the Celsius technology was also attracting interest from other sectors.

Jones said: “We’ve had interest from poultry farmers as the ability to accurately monitor temperature can have a massive impact on egg yield.

“We’ve also been talking to offshore renewable energy sector as the product can help it route electricity more effectively.”

Now the product has been shortlisted in the ‘The Data Centre Award for Change and Innovation 2011’ category at the Data Centres in Europe 2011 awards.

The winners in all categories will be announced at the awards dinner which takes place in London on the evening of June 2.

“We’re delighted to have been nominated, especially when we’re up against some really tough European competition,” said Jones.

“It’s particularly rewarding for such a new product: We won the DataCentreDynamics Future Thinking & Design Concepts award earlier this year so to be up for a second award so soon demonstrates the interest in Celsius.”

Jones told Business Weekly: “ideaSpace has proved a brilliant launchpad for the business and we are now in a position where we are considering the best way to scale our operations and the optimum funding strategy.

“The opportunity is massive and we are dealing with some very big players in the global energy industry.

“The data centre industry offers a launchpad to growth for Alquist. the industry wants to run its data centres 24/7 regardless of the cost in terms of energy and the environment. They had to operate round the clock and as long as someone in accounts was paying the bill they never had to worry about the implications.

“Legislation in the UK is closing in on them and they have to cut their energy costs; we have the solution.”

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