Three U.S. universities have joined with 15 companies in a collaborative research center to increase energy efficiency and help create a greener electronics industry. Researchers at Binghamton University in New York, Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and University of Texas at Arlington are the institutions taking part in the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center in Energy-Efficient Electronic Systems (I/UCRC E3S).
Joining the three campuses are Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Commscope, Bloomberg, General Electric, Corning Inc., Endicott Interconnect Technologies, Emerson Network Power and Emerson Delaware Valley Liebert, Verizon, Comcast and Steel Orca. The project is funded in part by National Science Foundation.
Binghamton University serves as the lead institution on the project, which will, according to Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research, look at “energy efficiency problems holistically — that is, from all angles and across many disciplines.”
Sammakia adds that “Each of the center’s academic partners has expertise in a particular area.” Villanova’s engineering department, according to Alfonso Ortega, the school’s associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research, has expertise in thermal management of electronic systems, as well as energy sustainability. Dereje Agonafer, UT Arlington mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, says research at that university has focused for a number of years on data center cooling.
Their research will first focus on data centers, increasing becoming large-scale energy consumers, accounting for about 2.5 percent of the total national energy expenditure in the U.S. I/UCRC is expected to investigate ways to allow electronic systems to monitor and self-regulate the amount of energy they use.
The need for more efficient data centers is underscored by the projected increase in demand for online services in the next few years, from electronic health records to at-home shopping. In addition to the immediate savings projected for large data centers, participants expect the lessons learned from the project will be transferable to other parts of the electronics industry.
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