Energy management & sensor systems


The energy management and sensor systems group at the IBM Research - Zurich Laboratory is engaged in research projects related to the energy management of data centers and to the development of energy-efficient wireless sensor and actuator network solutions for various industrial applications.

In the data center energy management (DCEM) project, our work focuses on the design of advanced sensing and control concepts for optimizing the cooling air flows and the temperature field in data center rooms to improve the cooling efficiency beyond current practices. The performance of the proposed concepts is assessed with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and their implementation feasibility demonstrated with experiments conducted in data centers.

We are also searching for reduced-order models to predict effectively the air flows and temperature field inside a data center room based on real-time temperature measurements taken at a few locations in the room. The models can be applied for implementing various thermally conscious air flow control strategies and workload scheduling policies, as well as for the thermally conscious placement of upgraded computing equipment in data centers.

In the sensor systems project, we design and implement novel low-cost, low-power wireless sensor and actuator network (WSAN) solutions for monitoring and controlling the value of various physical parameters, such as temperatures and vibrations, in commercial buildings or at industrial plants. Our WSAN solution typically comprises a large number of battery-powered nodes that are equipped with an IEEE 802.15.4-compatible radio transceiver and communicate with each other by executing the power-efficient IMPERIA protocol stack. IMPERIA provides all networking functions for quickly and reliably forming a multi-hop WSAN, and also encompasses the lightweight publish/subscribe messaging protocol MQTT-S that allows efficient integration of the WSAN into IBM's middleware framework Websphere MQ. The described solution is and will be deployed in the following wireless sensor network (WSN) application scenarios:

  • WSN for monitoring of the temperature distribution in data centers
  • WSN for monitoring of seismic vibrations at industrial plant
  • WSN for seismic exploration of oil and gas reservoirs on land.