11th July 2014   From twitter to live streaming – the environmental impacts of global communications

UL hosts top electronics researchers to take on the challenge of greener communications. Image credit: Energy Efficient Processors, Intel Press via Creative Commons.

UL hosts top electronics researchers to take on the challenge of greener communications. Image credit: Energy Efficient Processors, Intel Press via Creative Commons.

One of the biggest challenges facing the electronics industry is the issue of cooling. From smart phones to data centres, electric vehicles to satellites, the issue of thermal management is one that affects speed and efficiency, but it also has significant environmental impacts. The University of Limerick recently hosted over 60 leading engineers and scientists in the field at the ‘Eurotherm Seminar Series’ to discuss the topic. The Stokes Institute, University of Limerick has a proven track-record of innovation in this area, its Director, Dr. Jeff Punch, and Eurotherm Chair explains: “One of the biggest users of electricity is fixed and wireless communications. In most developed countries, the electrical power consumption required for voice and data communications has tripled over the past decade and much of this power is required to cool infrastructure such as data centres. This energy requirement has environmental impacts which can often be overlooked in the race for faster broadband speeds and increased capacity.”

Dr Punch added; “Take the World Cup as an example, vast amounts of data from live video footage to social media will be handled around the globe with peaks at key times. As a society, we are demanding faster speeds the capacity to handle large volumes of data through live-streaming, and our communications technologies seek to keep up. However, what is often forgotten are the environmental costs associated with the cooling systems to support this rapid growth.”

“More efficient cooling technologies can significantly help to cut the environmental impact of large-scale communications infrastructure, making the worlds broadband and mobile technologies greener and more sustainable.” added Dr Punch.

Eurotherm promotes and fosters European co-operation by gathering together specialists working on targeted areas of the thermal sciences and heat transfer. The seminar featured leading academic and industrial experts from across European, North America and Australasia.

Dr Punch also noted the opportunities for collaboration: “Irish universities have a particularly strong track record in the thermal sciences, and it was great to share our current research as part of an international showcase attended by a range of industrialists. It is a wonderful opening for collaborations in the vibrant application area of thermal management”.

The top award for best paper went to Prof. Gary Rosengarten, of RMIT University in Melbourne, with additional awards for Dr Nicholas Jeffers and Dr James Howard, both of Bell Laboratories. This event was kindly supported by Science Foundation Ireland.

Stokes Laboratories
Engineering Research Building
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland


Phone: +353 61 202449
Email: stokesresearch@ul.ie