Posts Tagged data center batteries

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: Ventilation

Posted by on July 9, 2012  |  1 Comment

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The main objectives of any ventilation system are management of environmental air temperature, humidity and air quality. In a data center, or any facility in which electrical equipment and battery systems are installed, the ventilation system must address:

  • Health safety – the air must be free of pollutants that could be toxic, corrosive,poisonous, or carcinogenic
  • Fire safety – the system must prevent and safely remove the accumulation of gasses or aerosols that could be flammable or explosive.
  • Equipment reliability and safety – the system must provide an environment that optimizes the performance of equipment (including both batteries and electronic equipment) and maximizes their life expectancy
  • Human comfort

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

Stationary lead-acid batteries are the most widely used method of energy reserve for information technology rooms (data centers, network rooms). Selecting and sizing ventilation for battery systems must balance and trade off many variables. These could include different battery technologies, installation methods, operating modes, and failure modes.

Executive Summary:

Lead-acid batteries are the most widely used method of energy reserve. Ventilation systems must address health and safety as well as performance of the battery and other equipment in a room. Valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries and modular battery cartridges (MBC) do not require special battery rooms and are suitable for use in an office environment. Air changes designed for human occupancy normally exceed the requirements for VRLA and MBC ventilation. Vented (flooded) batteries, which release hydrogen gas continuously, require a dedicated battery room with ventilation separate from the rest of the building. This paper summarizes some of the factors and codes to consider when selecting and sizing a ventilation system for a facility in which stationary batteries are installed.

Contents:

  • Terminology
  • Environmental design considerations

Conclusion:

Ventilation systems for stationary batteries must address human health and safety, fire safety, equipment reliability/ safety, and human comfort. Vented (flooded) batteries should be installed in dedicated battery rooms, but may share the same room as the equipment they support (such as a UPS system). VRLA batteries and modular battery cartridges can be used in an office environment. The amount of heat generated by a battery system is insignificant compared to the total IT system. However, batteries need cool, clean air for optimum performance and long life. Vented batteries must have a dedicated ventilation system that exhausts to the outside and prevents circulation of air in other parts of the building. For VRLA and MBC systems, the ventilation required for human occupancy is normally sufficient to remove heat and gases that might be generated. A minimum of two room air changes per hour and a temperature in the range of 20 – 24° C (68 – 75° F) are recommended. The ventilation system must prevent the accumulation of hydrogen pockets in greater than 1 – 2% concentration.

For vented batteries, it is recommended to enlist the services of an engineering firm experienced in battery room design, including ventilation, fire protection, hazardous material reporting and disposal, and spill control.

For VLRA and MBC battery systems, the ventilation requirements for human occupancy and electronic equipment operation in a data center or network room well exceed the requirements for the batteries. No additional engineering should be necessary for VRLA battery ventilation.

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 Technologies for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Environmental Regulations

Posted by on June 27, 2012  |  No Comments

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Approximately 90% of stationary batteries deployed in US data centers are of the lead-acid type. Lead and electrolyte must be reported in different ways to regulatory agencies depending upon the jurisdictional circumstances. This paper attempts to cut through the maze of regulations and focuses specifically on lead-acid battery requirements in terms that most data center professionals can understand. In general, the rules apply only to very large battery installations, and generally concern planning (reporting the presence of batteries at a site) and accidents (reporting spills or “releases”).

Environmental regulatory compliance is focused on the amount of electrolyte / sulfuric acid and lead in a particular location. Of the three popular technologies, vented (flooded or wet cells), valve regulated (VRLA or sealed) and modular battery cartridges (MBC), flooded batteries contain the highest levels of electrolyte / sulfuric acid and lead. The smaller amounts of electrolyte / sulfuric acid and lead in VRLA and MBC batteries allow for larger battery systems to be installed without the regulatory compliance required of comparable vented batteries.

Common questions that need to be addressed when installing a UPS battery system include the following:

  • Will I have to report my batteries as hazardous material (hazmat)?
  • Where do I find the rules?
  • What are EPCRA,SARA, SERC, CERCLA, LEPC, etc. and why do I care?
  • What do I have to declare?
  • When do I have to declare it?
  • To whom do I have to declare it?
  • What forms do I have to use?
  • What if I don’t do it?

Most commercial battery back-up systems fall below government-required reporting levels, but large UPS and DC plant batteries may have to comply. Failure to comply can result in costly penalties. Wading through the Code of Federal Regulations can be a complex and time-consuming task.

The following scenario illustrates the common concern about batteries and compliance: An IT manager is responsible for a building into which he will be installing (or maybe already has installed) a large, lead-acid battery system to back up critical operations. He is nervous enough about all these batteries and stored electricity under his roof, and now somebody says that he may have a compliance issue. He’s already been down the road with the electrical inspectors and fire marshals, and now he hears that the Federal Government may have a disturbing interest in his facility as well. Who are these people and what do they want?

“Battery Technologies for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Environmental Regulations” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

Some lead-acid batteries located in data centers are subject to government environmental compliance regulations. While most commercial battery back-up systems fall below required reporting levels, very large UPS and DC plant batteries may have to comply. Failure to comply can result in costly penalties. Environmental compliance regulations focus on the amount of sulfuric acid and lead in a given location. This paper offers a high level summary of the regulations and provides a list of environmental compliance information resources.

Contents:

  • Getting started
  • What are the rules
  • Emergency planning and response plans
  • Summary of inventory reporting steps

Conclusion:

Most commercial applications of stationary lead-acid batteries will fall well below the reporting quantities required by the EPA. Flooded batteries are more likely than VRLA batteries to require reporting, whether for reporting inventory or for the release of hazardous materials. Large battery systems can add significantly to a company’s compliance work. Although spills or releases of hazardous material (hazmat) for batteries at the reporting threshold are quite rare, one must nevertheless report the presence of battery inventories in the building to local and state authorities, and one must have an emergency preparedness plan in place.

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: 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: Site Planning

Posted by on June 18, 2012  |  No Comments

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Batteries for uninterruptible power systems (UPS) are almost universally of the lead-acid type and are of one of the following three technologies:

  1. Vented (flooded or wet cells
  2. Valve regulated (VRLA)
  3. Modular battery cartridges (MB)

Please refer to White Paper 30, Battery Technology for the Data Centers and Network Rooms: Lead-Acid Battery Options , for more details.

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

Executive Summary:

The site requirements and costs for protecting information technology and network environments are impacted by the choice of uninterrupted power supply (UPS) battery technology. This paper will discuss how battery technologies impact site requirements.

Contents:

  • Adaptability
  • Planning issues

Conclusion:

IT systems present a rapidly changing requirement for data center infrastructure. Fast response to this change can be difficult but can be facilitated by the appropriate selection of UPS battery technology.

The different battery technologies now available vary considerably in their site planning requirements and in their ability to create battery systems that can adapt to changing requirements.

A typical data center design process focuses on power and runtime as the drivers in battery selection and cost. An alternative approach is to focus on how adaptable the battery system needs to be to changing requirements. This approach can give rise to dramatic savings over the life of the system.

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.