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Cheyenne Data Center Launches New Biogas Project

Bob Beck

Last week, Governor Matt Mead attended a cable cutting for a new biogas-fueled data center in Cheyenne. It’s a zero emissions demonstration project built in collaboration with Microsoft, the governor’s office, the University of Wyoming and the utilities industry. Cheyenne LEADS is an economic development group that helped coordinate the project.

The group’s CEO Randy Bruns says many solid waste plants around the U.S. create biofuel to control the methane build-up they produce and to power their facilities. But no one has ever tried powering a data center with this kind of energy.

“One of the things that Microsoft wanted to do was to test, in real time, in real circumstances, powering data centers with alternative fuel—in this case, methane gas biogenerated from a waste water treatment plant.”

Bruns says the way the new fuel cell works is by converting the methane at Cheyenne’s Dry Creek water treatment plant into power by breaking down solid waste.

“Micro-organisms are allowed to operate on those in a very controlled environment breaking down that sludge. One of the byproducts of the bio-organisms is methane gas. That methane gas is being captured and routed through the fuel cells.”

Bruns says he hopes the project can be used to build more data centers around the state.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.

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