Center helps companies develop low-cost clean energy

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Emerald Technologies has developed a unit that increases cooling capacity, decreases energy use and takes up less space than traditional methods of cooling data centers.

Throughout his 25-year career in the information technology industry, Jeff Burke, founder and CEO of Emerald Technologies, has learned firsthand the positive and negative impacts of increased computing power and is attempting to utilize the benefits of the technology to more properly address its negative side effects. 

“The explosion of computing technology has created entire industries and provided extraordinary benefits to society,” Burke says. “However, the management of the computer data centers needed to operate our increasingly complex telecommunications networks and information technology infrastructures has become an important cost and environmental factor for businesses of all shapes and sizes.” 

Burke notes that data-center electricity use is 10 percent of the total cost of ownership, and carbon emissions from data centers account for almost 15 percent of the total for the IT sector. 

After overseeing large data centers at several Fortune 1000 companies, Burke decided to address the issue head-on and formed Emerald Technologies to develop products designed to reduce data-center cost and energy use. 

Emerald Technologies is one of 24 tenants in the Clean Energy Incubator, a research and technology development organization designed to enhance green-energy entrepreneurship and promote regional economic development. The incubator, co-managed by the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and Venture Creations, is one of six statewide and is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“The Clean Energy Incubator seeks to help start-ups develop business plans, assess market opportunities, improve production design and ultimately bring products to market,” notes Bill Jones, interim director of Venture Creations. “Emerald Technologies illustrates the potential that exists for clean-energy development as both a sustainability and economic tool.”

“We joined the incubator because of the technical resources and facilities available through RIT and have accessed those services to further focus and develop our business model,” Burke adds.

Emerald identified the cooling systems used with data centers as a key market opportunity and entered into an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent, the global telecommunications company, to license patented technology. The company has utilized the patent to develop the OptiCool Data Center Cooling Solution, which it is now being offered for sale. 

The system uses an oil-free, pumped refrigerant and a modular cooling-unit design that increases cooling capacity, decreases overall energy use and takes up significantly less floor space than traditional methods of cooling.

“OptiCool has the potential to reduce data center energy consumption by up to 95 percent and increase equipment capacity by up to 100 percent,” Burke says.

Emerald worked with the Golisano Institute to submit a grant proposal to NYSERDA to further develop the OptiCool solution and ultimately assist other organizations with data center cooling efficiency across the state of New York.

“The Clean Energy Incubator allows us to further the implementation and use of sustainable technologies, enhancing environmental quality and promoting the further development of the green energy sector in New York state,” adds Mark Coleman, a senior program manager at the Golisano Institute.