This week Niels Stevens returns with a contribution!
Almost half of the energy consumed globally is used to heat the spaces we inhabit, while at the same time the data centers that are powering the digital-revolution are having trouble disposing their waste heat. The demand for computing power is only going up with technologies as AI en crypto relying heavily on massive amounts of computing power. There are efforts in the IT industry to reuse the generated heat and try to recuperate it by guiding the excessive heat where it can be used productively, but the company we dissect today takes the reverse approach and brought the computing power to the buildings that need heating….
Qarnot designed a green heating system that warms a building by using residual heat from microprocessors. Qarnot’s design is currently implemented in 6 buildings in Paris. These buildings are currently heated for free.
Qarnot developed the QH 1 space heater and the QB 1 boiler. Both of these heating elements contain a cloud-based computing system that performs complex IT operations. Performing these operations the computing system can generate quite some heat, the QH en QB control these computing operations and match them to the heat that is demanded at that moment on the location where they are installed.
imagery courtesy Qarnot
The heaters can be controlled by a user-friendly app on your phone to maintain a comfortable temperature. When you need more heat, the processor inside will just work harder.
Along with the devices, they launched a building management system called OASIS. This system keeps track of areas that are used the most. This way a user can easily keep track of these places so that the heating will focus on those rooms first.
Inside the QH 1 space heater, they also integrated a way to charge your phone wirelessly, by just placing it on top of the heater. They also use every space heater as a booster for the Wi-Fi.
Paul Benoit and Miroslav Sviezeny are the founders of Qarnot. They founded Qarnot in 2010 with 1 idea in mind: to find a clever way to reduce the carbon footprint of a building. Paul and Miroslav were the perfect match as Paul studied as an engineer at École Polytechnique and Miroslav studied business school at ESSEC Business School.
The processors inside of QH 1 and QB 1 are AMD’s design. AMD provides them with their microprocessors: the eight-core Ryzen Pro. Because of their success, AMD will make 12.500 more of these processors over the next 2 years for Qarnot.
As stated before, the users for the heaters can be anyone. However, most of the users come from businesses that work in finance or 3D animations. This is because both of these industries require a lot of computing power.
Qarnot’s unique designs have won 2 awards: The Cloud Innovative World Cup in 2015 and the CES Eureka Park Climate Changes Innovators award in 2018.
🕵️♀️ Who else?
There is currently no one else who offers IT cooling and space heating in one device.
However, tools for reducing the carbon footprint of a building by, for example, monitoring the occupancy of rooms exist in abundance.
A couple of weeks ago I talked about Vyer. They also had an option to monitor costs and losses linked to heating and cooling buildings.
According to Qarnot’s calculations rendering a 90-minute 3D animation could heat up every building in Paris for 16 minutes during the coldest time of the year.
Studies have shown that by switching to their heating system you can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 75%.
The boiler can heat water up to 60°C and provide up to 3 kW of power. This model is a modular system which means that parts can easily be switched and upgraded.
Lastly, their systems are OS-independent, so a company doesn’t need much to quickly switch over to their product.
👎 Why not?
As with all electronic devices they need to be cleaned out every so often to get rid of dust. Because of its design, it’s not possible to do it yourself, so you will need one of their specialist to do it for you.
Because of the dust, air quality also needs to be taken into account. They have a service that monitors air quality, however, this is an extra option you need to acquire separately.
As with most software newer technologies are constantly hitting the market. The question here is who would be responsible for updating and maintaining the electronics inside the devices, and what happens if they become deprecated.
The QH 1 also comes with a sensor that recognizes faces in order to anticipate who’s in the room and adjust the temperature to this person’s preferences. In the spirit of the General Data Protection Regulation, there are some questions here when it comes to using this software in public buildings.
Lastly, the device only generates heat. So in the summer, these devices are obsolete.
📚 Further reading?
How to stop data centers from gobbling up the world’s electricity
Techcrunch: Qarnot raises $6.5 million for its computer servers that heat buildings
Qarnot is probably safer than what the IT crowd traditionally uses for heating.
Nerdalize was a Dutch company who tried exactly the same. I had stock. They went bankrupt.
Hopefully Qarnot does a better job.