Cambridge technology could slash industry energy bills
Ideaspace Cambridge company, Alquist has been shortlisted for its third major product award in a year.
Alquist has been nominated for its product Celsius, a high-tech temperature monitoring device which could help UK firms cut millions of pounds off their energy bills. The device has attracted particular interest from Data Centres, the facilities that house banks of computer servers and which currently consume 3% of total energy used in the UK.
“Data centres are set to double their energy use by 2015. No other industry consumes as much power,” said Andrew Jones, founder and Managing Director of Alquist, which is based at ideaSpace on Cambridge University’s West Cambridge site.
The high energy use by data centres is due to the air conditioning required to prevent the computer equipment from overheating. Such facilities currently operate at between 18- 20°c . It is believed much higher temperatures could be tolerated, allowing energy use to be reduced – but the slightest risk of damaging the equipment has to be avoided.
Celsius is being used to gradually allow temperatures to rise in a tightly controlled manner, so that potential risks are minimized. “We are providing a monitoring infrastructure that enables them to gradually make the journey with confidence,” said Andrew. “For every 1°c degree the temperature is increased savings of around 5% per year can be achieved.”
“The country is facing a major challenge to its energy supplies. We have already moved from being net exporters of energy to becoming dependent on imports of gas from countries in the Middle East and elsewhere,” said Andrew. “Legislation is forcing companies to reduce their energy use. Government and market forces are combining to drive energy costs up.”
Unlike earlier temperature monitoring systems which take spot measurements using individual sensors, Celsius uses fibre optic cable, up to 5km in length, to continuously measure temperature at thousands of points. It offers accuracy levels down to 0.01°c. A 5km cable can provide as many as 5000 continuous measurements.
Alquist’s product is a finalist in the prestigious UK IT Industry Awards 2011, sponsored by the British Computer Society and Computing, in the category of Infrastructure Innovation of the Year. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony in London on 10 November.
The product won the DataCentreDynamics Future Thinking and Design Concepts award earlier this year and was also a Finalist in the Data Centres in Europe 2011 awards.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Andrew Jones, founder and Managing Director of Alquist