Qarnot: Reducing Energy Waste with Innovative Green Data Centers

Qarnot, a French startup, is finding innovative ways to manage heat from servers in data centers and standardizing their process to turn fatal heat into an asset.

Qarnot, which has been around for some time, is looking to take it up a notch. To fuel their next steps forward, they’ve raised €12.5 million ($13.3M) and secured a €22.5 million credit line ($24M).

Today, Société Générale Ventures, ADEME Investissement, Demeter, la Banque des Territoires and Colam Impact are all participating in a funding round.

Qarnot began by offering electric heaters for construction companies’ new buildings. These contained CPUs and other components to generate heat, while the remaining heater acted as a passive cooling system – warming residential and office spaces.

Companies like BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Illumination 3D animation studio are leveraging the power of decentralized data centers by renting servers for their own use.

“Since 2008, our mission at Qarnot has been to turn computers’ excess heat into a valuable resource,” Paul Benoit, co-founder and CEO of the company, told me. “Nowadays it’s an incredibly popular topic – people everywhere are talking about it!”

Qarnot’s innovative solution to the problem of year-round heating needs is scalable boiler systems, which offer a reliable and efficient way to heat homes throughout the year.

Modules with up to 12 Open Compute Project-based servers, featuring AMD Epyc and Intel Xeon CPUs, enable 95% of computer waste heat to be converted into hot water. Cold water enters the modules and is heated for reuse.

I inquired about the seasonal activity of central heating boilers and discovered that they remain operational year-round, providing hot water – an essential service.

Benoit declared that they’re tackling baseload with a year-round system and heating network running off of a complimentary source. For those cold winter nights, buildings or neighborhoods will still require direct electricity or natural gas use.

Qarnot’s multiple modules work in parallel to generate more hot water and boost the platform’s total compute power.

“Benoit suggested a novel idea: deploying data centers in locations where heat is consumed, as opposed to traditional data centers,”

Qarnot's digital boilers running in a heating network in Finland

Qarnot has a team of professionals that specialize in the development of cloud computing solutions. They are experienced in designing and deploying complex systems for both large companies and small businesses. Their focus is on creating solutions tailored to

Clients such as social landlords, property developers, local authorities, swimming pools and heating network operators use Qarnot’s data centers. After rolling out a pilot with 100kW of compute in Finland, the company is now exploring larger locations offering up to several MWs of capacity.

“Our system eliminates the need for a cooling system, enabling us to sell heat generated by servers,” said Benoit. “Typically, 1kW of server power requires up to 500W in air conditioning in the data center industry.”

Qarnot’s appeal lies in its dual-purpose use of electricity: powering computers and generating heat, which boosts the company’s profitability while reducing data centers’ carbon footprints.

“We envision the future to consist of numerous mid-sized data centers, with edge computing gradually appearing. At present, its exact appearance is uncertain; however, we are aware that operators seek hundreds of data centers with a few kilowatts of capacity,” Benoit commented.

Qarnot has the potential to revolutionize the data center industry: success could render physical buildings hosting thousands of computers obsolete.

A table of Qarnot's carbon footprint

Qarnot is a data-processing firm that uses heat from computer servers to power homes and offices. The company was founded in 2016, and their services are offered around the world.

Qarnot provides

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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