Posts Tagged Battery technology

Comparing Data Center Batteries, Flywheels, and Ultracapacitors

Posted by on August 16, 2012  |  No Comments

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Data centers require energy storage devices to address the risk of interruptions to the main power supply. Energy storage applications can be divided into three major functional categories:

  1. Power stability – When the power supply coming into the data center is unstable (e.g., power surges and sags), stored energy can be used as needed to balance out disturbances and assure a clean power supply to the load.

  1. Power bridging – When switching from one source of power to another (e.g., utility power to generator power), stored energy can be used (from seconds to hours) to assure consistent power.

  1. Energy management – This is the cost-optimizing strategy of charging stored energy when energy cost is low, and using stored energy when energy cost is high. This energy storage application is not discussed in this paper.

Although many varieties of energy storage technologies are available today, this paper will limit its analysis to those that are most applicable to data centers. Although some storage technologies can function across a range of applications, most are limited in their specific application because of economic considerations. The three technologies that qualify for practical use in data centers—batteries, flywheels, and ultracapacitors—are the subject of this paper (see Figure 1).

The intention of this paper is neither to provide detailed technical descriptions nor to compare in-depth TCO scenarios of energy storage alternatives. This paper attempts to simplify the analysis of energy storage alternatives by providing a relative comparison of mainstream and emerging energy storage technologies.

“Comparing Data Center Batteries, Flywheels, and Ultracapacitors” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

Most data center professionals choose lead-acid batteries as their preferred method of energy storage. However, alternatives to lead-acid batteries are attracting more attention as raw material and energy costs continue to increase and as governments become more vigilant regarding environmental and waste disposal issues. This paper compares several popular classes of batteries, compares batteries to both flywheels and ultracapacitors, and briefly discusses fuel cells.

Contents:

  • Energy storage and energy generation defined
  • Energy storage efficiency
  • Energy storage cost
  • Factors that influence the business decision
  • Data center storage technologies
  • Additional considerations

Conclusion:

The landscape of alternative energy storage is gaining more recognition. When selecting an energy storage solution, the first step is to determine the criticality of the data center operation; i.e., what would be the consequence of an unplanned IT equipment shutdown? A less critical operation may be able to tolerate an occasional shutdown as long as it can “ride through” the momentary power interruptions that make up the majority of power outages. A more critical operation may require a longer stored energy reserve.

As new energy storage technologies emerge, a fundamental question should be posed: What is the benefit of instituting a longer runtime (e.g., 15 minutes) as opposed to a short runtime (30 seconds)? If no benefit exists, flywheels, ultracapacitors, and smaller battery systems can represent a huge savings.

Why, then, aren’t data center professionals abandoning their batteries in droves and replacing them with flywheels, ultracapacitors, and smaller battery systems? In some cases, buyers of energy storage solutions cite issues such as cost, mechanical moving parts with lower reliability, or the inability to meet length of life goals. However, additional reflection leads to the conclusion that it is people, human beings, and not just pieces of equipment, that are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the data center.

As computer operations become more and more critical, the majority of data centers today require longer UPS runtimes, and, as a result, batteries continue to outperform flywheels and ultracapacitors in terms of cost, reliability and availability. Despite the growth of alternative technologies, the view over the next few years is that batteries will still remain the principle resource for energy storage in the data center.

For most data center professionals, time to react and respond to a problem or emergency is perceived to be at a premium during a crisis situation. Extra time during an emergency might allow a human to correct the problem such as discovering that an auto switch was erroneously left in a manual position. In addition, since most data centers are equipped with monitoring software, when a fault occurs, an automatic data center backup copy is launched. After the backup copy, the remaining battery time is used to launch a safe server shutdown. The servers are stopped cleanly and restarted immediately when power returns. From a data center operator’s point of view, the more time to resolve an issue, the better. Since batteries currently provide people with more time to react, they are favored and take on the role as the primary energy storage mechanism in the data center.

As power generation and storage technologies combine (e.g., fuel cells combining with ultracapacitors) and manufacturers strive to introduce cost effective and cleaner hybrid solutions to the marketplace, choices for viable data center energy storage technologies will increase.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Jean-Francois Christin is Business Development Manager for APC-MGE’s Secure Power Solutions organization.  His 17 years of experience in the power systems industry includes management of technical support in APC-MGE’s South Asia and Pacific region, and management of technical communication and business development in the EMEA/LAM region.  He is member of LPQI, actively participates in international power and energy conferences, and trains subject matter experts on topics related to power quality.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Data Center VRLA Battery End-of-Life Recycling Procedures

Posted by on July 20, 2012  |  No Comments

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Data center professionals rely on lead-acid batteries as a reliable and cost effective energy storage resource. However, some of the basic components of these batteries (e.g., lead, sulfuric acid) are potentially toxic if mishandled. Data center owners risk stiff penalties if these batteries are improperly disposed of. Fortunately, battery manufacturers, vendors, and recyclers recognize that spent lead-acid batteries hold financial value and have greatly facilitated their safe disposal.

“Data Center VRLA Battery End-of-Life Recycling Procedures” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

Contrary to popular belief, the recycling of lead-acid batteries, which are the most common batteries found in data centers, is one of the most successful recycling systems that the world has ever seen. Reputable battery manufacturers, suppliers, and recycling companies have teamed up to establish a mature and highly efficient lead-acid battery recycling process. This paper reviews battery end-of-life options and describes how a reputable vendor can greatly facilitate the safe disposal and recycling of VRLA lead-acid batteries.

Contents:

  • Enlist a reputable battery disposal partner
  • End-of-life options
  • The role of the UPS supplier
  • The battery recycling process

Conclusion:

The lead-acid battery recycling system is almost an ecological closed loop. Polypropylene is recycled into more battery plastic. The sulfuric acid is collected and resold as commodity acid. The lead is smelted and returned back to batteries or applied to other uses of lead.

The recycling of batteries is highly regulated at the local, state, national, and international levels. Fortunately, data center owners are not required to be familiar with the large volume of regulations involved. By partnering with a reputable UPS supplier or battery manufacturer, most battery owners can safely dispose of their spent batteries free of charge.

White Paper Written By:

Raymond Lizotte is a Senior Environmental Engineer within the APC Environmental Stewardship Office.  He directs the company’s efforts to develop products that conform to emerging product focused rules, such as the European Restrictions on Hazardous Substances in Electronics (RoHS) directive.  He has been involved in environmental product design for the past 20 years.  Ray studied environmental engineering at MIT where he graduated with a BS in 1985.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: VRLA Reliability and Safety

Posted by on June 20, 2012  |  No Comments

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Valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries have been used in UPS systems for almost 20 years. Compared to traditional flooded cell solutions, VRLA batteries allow higher power density and lower capital costs. VRLA batteries are typically deployed within power systems smaller than 500 kVA. Features of a VRLA battery include:

  • Container is sealed; liquid cannot be added or removed
  • Contains lead plates in a solution of sulfuric acid diluted in water (electrolyte)
  • Electrolyte is immobilized (not allowed to flow)
  • Operates at high currents
  • Safety vents allow escape of gas only under fault or excess charging conditions
  • Oxygen & hydrogen are recombined internally to form water
  • Installed in open frames or large cabinets (or embedded inside small power systems)

This paper will explore in greater detail some of the operating considerations of the VRLA battery. Concerns about VRLA batteries generally center on two issues: reliability and safety. Because of their wide usage (deployed at an estimated rate of 10 million units per year), many people have had experience – both good and bad – with VRLA technology. To better understand both the extent as well as the limitations of VRLA technology, we first need to understand the variations in VRLA design and the theory of operation. We can then look at the application and misapplication of this technology. All products eventually come to an end of useful life. We will explore when that should be in a VRLA battery and how that life could be lengthened or shortened according to its application and care. Although catastrophic failures are rare, we will look at what safety hazards are possible when VRLA batteries are misapplied or misused.

“Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: VRLA Reliability and Safety” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

The valve regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery is the predominant choice for small and medium sized uninterruptible power supply (UPS) energy storage. This white paper explores how the technology affects overall battery life and system reliability. It will examine the expected performance, life cycle factors, and failure mechanisms of VRLA batteries.

Contents:

  • VRLA types
  • VRLA theory of operations
  • VRLA life expectancy
  • Failure modes
  • Safety
  • Handling and environmental safety

Conclusion:

When properly applied and maintained, VRLA batteries and cartridges such as those used in small and medium-sized UPS systems can give reliable performance for three to five years or longer (depending upon battery selection). Battery dry-out is a major cause of VRLA battery end of life. Continuous monitoring and control systems can detect and respond to conditions that could cause premature cell failure. Temperature compensated and current limited charging can help prevent thermal runaway. Use of redundant, parallel strings can reduce the consequences of a cell failure and increase the life of a battery system.

VRLA batteries are safe to use in data centers and network rooms when properly applied and maintained. Neglect, abuse, or improper application can create conditions that could push a battery into failure mode. In extreme cases, catastrophic failure can cause fire and/or release of hazardous gases. Proper cooling and ventilation, regular monitoring, use of parallel strings, and temperature compensated charging can all contribute to long battery life and safety.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Lifecycle Costs

Posted by on June 11, 2012  |  No Comments

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Lead-acid batteries are the predominant choice for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) energy storage for data centers and network rooms. This white paper will compare the lifecycle costs the three lead-acid battery technologies, vented (flooded, also called wet cells), valve regulated (VRLA), and modular battery cartridges (MBC). Please see White Paper 30, Battery Technologies for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Battery Options for more information about the different types of battery technologies.

Each installation is unique and results in different costs. This paper uses estimates from several different sources. While every effort was made to ensure accuracy, the examples in this paper are only a guideline and factors relating to a particular installation must be incorporated for decision-making and budgetary purposes.

“Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Lifecycle Costs” Full White Paper (Click To Download Here)

Executive Summary:

The lifecycle cost of different UPS battery technologies is compared. The costs associated with the purchase of batteries, the infrastructure costs, and the costs associated with inflexibility to meet changing requirements are discussed and quantified.

Contents:

  • Lifecycle Costs
  • Selection factors other than lifecycle costs

Conclusion:

This analysis finds large differences in the life-cycle costs of the different UPS battery technologies. After reviewing all three steps it is clear that a MBC battery solution can offer over 50% savings over VRLA and flooded battery solutions. Often only the battery system costs are compared and then the differences might not be compelling enough to warrant a switch from a known technology. When the infrastructure costs are added the lifecycle savings between the technologies is dramatic. This is why of the UPS sold each year world wide, over 99% use VRLA batteries or MBC. The adaptability of MBC increases the speed of deployment and can allow recovery of the 75% of cost the average data center loses due to oversizing.

Factors relating to system availability have driven some installations to deploy flooded cells despite the lower life cycle cost of VRLA or MBC batteries. The technology of the MBC battery system specifically addresses many of these issues.

When compared with flooded cell battery systems, the MBC can save over 90% in life cycle costs in a real-world situation. Most of this cost advantage results from the ability to size the battery system to the current requirement and add as needed to meet changing requirements.

In cases where the ultimate load value is pre-determined and full utilization is achieved at the first commissioning of the system, much of the advantage of the MBC battery system is lost. However, the engineering, installation, and maintenance cost advantages still provide a savings of up to 60% when compared with flooded cells.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Lead-Acid Battery Options

Posted by on June 4, 2012  |  1 Comment

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Energy storage technologies in data centers play an important role in maintaining system uptime. Should utility power fail, the first line of defense is usually batteries that are incorporated as part of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system. Although alternative energy storage technologies such as fuel cells, flywheels, lithium ion, and nickel cadmium batteries are being explored (see White Paper 65, Comparing Data Center Batteries, Flywheels, and Ultracapacitors for more details) data center and network room UPS systems almost exclusively utilize lead-acid batteries. This paper reviews and compares the three major lead-acid battery technologies available today.

“Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Lead-Acid Battery Options” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

The lead-acid battery is the predominant choice for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) energy storage. Over 10 million UPSs are presently installed utilizing flooded, valve regulated lead acid (VRLA), and modular battery cartridge (MBC) systems. This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of these three lead-acid battery technologies.

Contents:

  • Lead-acid battery technologies
  • Attributes

Conclusion:

Vented (flooded or wet cell) batteries have a very long life but present significant complexity of installation and maintenance, the most significant being the need to build a separate battery room. These limitations have historically restricted the application of vented cells to very high power installations.

The VRLA battery was developed in response to the limitations of the wet-cell battery, and provides significant benefits in the area of installation costs, maintenance costs, energy density and safety. However, VRLA reliability can be compromised through improper installation and / or misapplication. Although the battery life of the MBC is shorter than that of vented cells, the benefits of this technology, even with a shorter battery life, present a compelling value proposition for today’s data centers and network rooms, especially in systems smaller than 500 kW.

All of the hazardous failure modes can be controlled by appropriate system design. Parallel string designs, ventilation, overcharge protection, temperature compensated charging, and battery monitoring are the principal techniques utilized to eliminate battery failure hazards.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Universal Networking Services brings a comprehensive solution from the utility pole to the server and assists with navigating the complex waters of most size and scope of projects. Whether you are upgrading, retrofitting or developing a new design-build, UNS and its partners generate efficient, scalable, reliable and manageable critical infrastructure solutions to your organization. Our holistic, common sense approach lowers our clients Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and maximizes efficiencies offered by the advancements in critical power and cooling infrastructure.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.