Bleeding-edge scientists are already looking into ways to take your coal-sucking cluster and turn it into a model of green, but here at GT we’re even ahead of them. Can’t afford thousands of dollars every month just to power your supercomputer? Here are our favorite ideas for alternative ways to power that cluster — and keep your postdocs in shape, too.
Here’s the latest trend in nerd self-identification: clothing and accessories with solar panels on them. Granted, these were invented to power small devices, such as your cell phone or iPod. But we’re willing to bet if you outfitted your lab staff with these backpacks and got them to spend enough time outside, you could get a compute cluster up and running.
A couple of students at MIT have been working to harness the energy used in every footstep, and to that end they came up with a design for a special floor that can convert the energy from footfalls, or any other kind of motion, into electrical power. James Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk call it “crowd farming” and estimate that just over 84 million footsteps could launch a space shuttle. GT says: install the special flooring outside your institution’s cafeteria and, if possible, wherever concerts are held. If you can’t cover the entire floor, just focus on where the mosh pit usually forms.
A company called SiCortex unveiled this concept at Wired magazine’s NextFest meeting earlier this fall. The cluster is powered by the energy generated from seven or eight bicycles (we assume this task would be relegated to postdocs, but you can make that call for yourself). No word from SiCortex on what happens when your cyclists need a bathroom break, but you sure can’t beat the price tag.