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GM harvests excess energy to run computers, air conditioners

GM harvests excess energy to run computers, air conditioners

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Initiatives under way in Italy and Michigan are using energy recaptured from engine testing to run other technologies.

General Motors is using excess energy being generated at its Powertrain Engineering Center in Torino, Italy, to run all of the facility's computers.

The initiative echoes a strategy used at the company's Pontiac Engineering Center, where energy from the company's testing activities is used to run the facility's air conditioners and lighting in the laboratory area.

In Italy, the plant runs 15 test benches that are used for designing engines in the Chevrolet and Opel automobile models. Over the past year, the company harvested 300,000 kilowatt hours of energy from those test benches, which has been enough to run the facility's computers.

In Michigan, GM has regenerated more than 26.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since it first began experimenting with these processes in 2008.

The company was able to build in these energy efficiency measures during a renovation project, according to Dave Gunnels, energy manager for the Pontiac testing facilities.

"Everything that we came up with when designing the upgraded systems was based on the availability of regenerative power, like what we pull from the engines," he sad. "If we didn't have the re-gen feature, our utility costs would've been higher."

The strategy enabled GM to downsize the transformers and network architecture for the site. Along the way, the company installed technology to clean the remaining engine exhaust before it is released into the atmosphere. Approximately 96 percent of the hydrocarbons are removed during this process.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure