A new technology is on the horizon that could make the burning of gas, oil and wood to heat homes obsolete: A new company called Project Exergy is developing a way to capture the waste heat from computing to keep our houses warm.
Orsini and his collaborators have created a prototype computer, called Henry — a “liquid-cooled, high-performance computer” that makes significantly more heat than a typical computer. Henry is slightly bigger than a normal tower PC and made only from off-the-shelf parts. “There is no Star Trek technology in this thing,” Orsini says. “It’s made out of things that you could go buy from the computer store today.”
There is, however, an additional component that works with the computer: a thermal storage tank. This tank is filled with phase change materials that hold significantly more heat than, for example, a typical hot-water heater, Orsini says.
Phase change materials are materials that store and release latent heat. Typically, they store heat by undergoing a solid-liquid phase transformation. Orsini was able to store heated water in Henry’s thermal storage tanks at 200 degrees Fahrenheit