Looking for advice on datacenter electrical/generator

Timo Janhunen timo at aci.on.ca
Sat Apr 5 01:41:53 UTC 2003

At 04:04 PM 04/04/2003 -0800, Bill Woodcock wrote:

>       On Fri, 4 Apr 2003, Matthew Kaufman wrote:
>     > natural gas has been off for multiple days in a row twice.
>     > So for the last datacenter I built, I went with diesel.
>I'm not following your logic...  How does the fact that natural gas is
>_usually_ available on-tap, and diesel _never_ is make diesel preferable?
>                                 -Bill

Natural gas as generator fuel is generally not a good idea for a few reasons:

- Natural gas is volatile, hence not a good option in earthquake prone 
areas - earthquake + natural gas line = big smelly leak - big smelly leak + 
spark = big fire
- Diesel is fairly stable, and won't go up with quite so large a bang in a 
fire, not to mention it can only be ignited under extreme temperature and 
- The gas gets cut off immediately in any fire situation, usually affecting 
a few city blocks at a time
- Diesel is readily available, and can be delivered by any Joe Citizen 
during a disaster to the generator site, since it doesn't require much in 
the way of special containers

Diesel generators come in both turbocharged and naturally aspirated models, 
which can easily be serviced by any competent diesel mechanic. Genset 
diesels are not any different than diesels in a passenger vehicle, tractor, 
or transport truck. In fact, diesels in gensets are engineered to work 
under much higher load conditions than vehicles, since they run constantly 
at a higher RPM under load

Last, but not least: if you can't get diesel fuel from anywhere to run it, 
buy a few gallons of vegetable oil from the local supermarket and pour it 
in the tank. It'll work just as well.


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