4 Big Benefits of Lithium Ion Batteries for UPS Systems – and 2 Key Challenges

4 Big Benefits of Lithium Ion Batteries for UPS Systems – and 2 Key Challenges

by Patrick Brouhon

A confluence of events is setting the stage for what may well be dramatic change in a key component of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology that really hasn’t changed much for 40 years or more.

I’m referring to the lead acid battery, the energy storage technology used in UPS systems, which remains much the same now as it did decades ago. But as the industry develops new types of batteries for devices ranging from smart phones to electric automobiles, we can clearly see the day when UPSs take advantage of these developments.

It’s coming at a good time, because customers are facing some difficult challenges with respect to UPSs, whether they’re for data centers, critical buildings, industrial processes or critical infrastructure. These challenges are driving the need for specific UPS requirements, including:

Reduced UPS footprint and weight to allow for a more effective, flexible use of space
Reduced cooling capacity
Increased energy storage availability and ability to predict UPS failures
Extended UPS life and reduced maintenance overhead

I believe lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries on Wikipedia hold great promise to address all of these challenges and requirements. In this post I’ll explain the four main reasons why.

First, Li-ion batteries provide multiple times the energy and power density as compared to valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA), which are the most common type currently used in UPS systems. As a result, UPSs built with Li-ion batteries take up only about one-third the space or less of a VRLA-based solution that delivers the same power.

That smaller footprint translates to reduced cooling requirements as well as about a two-thirds reduction in weight, at least. That means customers have more flexibility in terms of where they install the systems and can often avoid costly building modifications.

Li-ion batteries can also withstand a wider temperature range than VRLA batteries. The rule of thumb is that VRLA battery life is reduced by half for every 10°C (18°F) increase above 25°C (77° F) ambient temperature. Li-ion batteries are far less sensitive to temperature fluctuations and can accept spikes in temperature with almost no effect on battery life. This again allows customers to reduce cooling capacity as well as the size of the room that houses the UPS.

A third benefit is that Li-ion batteries always come with sophisticated battery monitoring systems (BMS) that provide a clear picture of battery runtime and health. It’s essentially the same technology that enables you to easily see how much battery life is left in your smart phone.

In contrast, VRLA batteries rely on chemistry that makes it hard to accurately predict when they’re going to fail. Think about your car battery: it may crank perfectly fine one day but the next it’s a little chilly and the battery fails, without warning. That won’t happen with Li-ion batteries.

Which leads to the final benefit of Li-ion batteries for UPSs: increased life expectancy. In theory, VRLA batteries used in UPS systems have a life expectancy of 10 years. But due to the constraints around being able to determine their actual health and life expectancy, in practice most customers replace them after 5 or 6 years.

In contrast, Li-ion batteries of the sort best suited for UPSs are expected to last for more than 10 years, reducing the burden and cost of battery replacements, as well as the risks of down time or load interruption during maintenance.

Of course no new technology comes without certain implementation challenges and Li-ion batteries are no different. First is the need to find the type of Li-ion battery that’s best suited for UPS applications. UPS requirements are quite different from those for, say, an electric car battery. Car batteries are designed to store lots of energy so the car can travel as many miles as possible before recharging. With UPS batteries, the concern is not length of run time so much as the need to deliver a lot of power quickly for a short period of time, usually just a few minutes until the backup generators kick in.

For a UPS we’re also not really interested in a battery that can cycle on and off thousands of times, because a UPS kicks in only occasionally. Rather, we need it to be highly reliable and safe, with a long life expectancy.

Secondly, we need a battery that can deliver a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as compared to VRLA batteries. Li-ion batteries are already competitive on that front. They may cost more up front, but will last about twice as long as VRLA batteries. Li-ion batteries also have a far smaller footprint, which drives down both space and cooling requirements – delivering further cost savings.

I expect the TCO story to get even better in coming months and years, since Li-ion technology is still quite new with respect to UPSs. Prices should fall at a much faster rate than that for the mature VLRA technology.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://blog.schneider-electric.com/power-management-metering-monitoring-power-quality/2015/06/24/4-big-benefits-of-lithium-ion-batteries-for-ups-systems-and-2-key-challenges/

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OSHA Finds Multiple Electrical Hazards at Kansas Battery Manufacturer

OSHA Finds Multiple Electrical Hazards at Kansas Battery Manufacturer

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As they investigated unsafe working conditions at a Salina, Kan., battery manufacturer, federal investigators initiated a second safety inspection after the company reported an unguarded machine partially amputated a 32-year-old worker's left middle finger.

On April 26, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued one willful, and 10 serious safety and health violations to Exide Technologies based on the Oct. 27 complaint and Dec. 3, 2015, injury inspections. OSHA found workers exposed to electrical and machine hazards. The agency also issued a hazard alert letter to the plant for failing to implement a heat-stress program. OSHA proposed total penalties of $127,300.

OSHA cited the company for:

  • Using electrical cable trays and equipment found deteriorating from exposure to sulfuric acid vapors.
  • Allowing acid and water to accumulate on floors causing holes, slip and trip hazards.
  • Impeding exit paths.
  • Failing to develop a permit-required confined space program.
  • Not training and monitoring workers in confined space.
  • Not labeling hazardous chemical containers.
  • Failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use.

"Exide Technologies is exposing workers to dangerous electrical and machine hazards that can cause devastating and life-changing injuries like the one this worker suffered," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "While working as a strip caster, this man joined 65 other Kansas workers who, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports suffered preventable, workplace amputation injuries in 2015. Exide needs to clean up its act and take immediate action to fix these hazards."

Inspectors found the amputation injury occurred when the strip caster's left hand was caught in the unguarded belts, pulleys and gears of a lead chopping machine at the facility.

View citations from Oct. 27 health, safety and Dec. 3 safety inspections.

Based in Milton, Ga., Exide focuses on smart battery development and advanced materials and process design at research facilities in the U.S., Germany, Italy and Spain. The company employs about 620 workers at the Salina facility and 5,000 globally.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/accidents-investigations/osha-finds-multiple-electrical-hazards-kansas-battery-manufacturer

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Free Arc Flash Handbook

130 Pages of Expert Advice & Arc Flash Information

imagegen.ashxThis informative book was developed as a go-to resource for safety managers, electrical engineers, or anyone responsible for creation of an electrical safety program.

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P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: https://www.graphicproducts.com/guides/arc-flash-hazards/ppc/?campaign=Arc_Flash_US_DSK_Hazard_Low_Cost&adgroup=Low_Cost&gclid=CJfz79-j8MwCFQsPaQodUCoBQg

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Grid of Things to Come

The Grid of Things to Come, No One Can Be Left Behind

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Patrick M. Hogan of PG&E makes a point at the recent California Renewables Rush conference in San Francisco while Kevin Lynn, DOE director of grid integration, listens.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Patrick M. Hogan, Pacific Gas & Electric senior vice president, Electric Transmission and Distribution, recently addressed The California Renewables Rush conference in San Francisco. This article is extracted from his remarks.
The modern, resilient, dynamic electric grid offers our customers more choice, more control and more convenience when it comes to their energy.

PG&E won’t be the only player on that grid.


For example, we’re proposing a pilot project to test the idea of replacing the aging underwater cable that supplies power to Angel Island, in San Francisco bay, with a microgrid system that would combine on-site wind and solar generation with storage to manage all of the island’s energy needs, and help the state park system meet its clean energy goals.

That could involve inviting companies that make the necessary components to design parts of the system around their technology. Who would own that equipment, and how the costs and responsibilities would be divided, have yet to be decided. But we’re working with the California Public Utility Commission and others to explore the idea.

Of course, there’s another piece of the puzzle, one that can’t be forgotten amid the enthusiasm for clean energy solutions.

Unlike other businesses looking to join us in the energy space, utility companies have unique responsibilities. An essential part our job is to make sure the system works for everyone.

The investments and infrastructure that make it possible for the fortunate among us to connect private solar panels and charge an electric vehicle in the garage must also continue to serve our 1.5 million customers who qualify for low-income discounts.

That’s why we pay so much attention to the costs of integrating new clean technologies into our system, and who bears these costs. We’re already seeing how this can tilt the playing field over the long term.

The benefits of a clean-energy future have to be accessible and affordable to all. No one can be left behind. That’s a responsibility we will not walk away from.

The electric system has to be reliable for everyone. When there’s a storm or a major earthquake, people need to know there’s someone they can count on to restore power and get everyone back on their feet quickly. It’s hard to see who else would do that.

So when you take in the full picture, the more you try to plan for a clean energy economy, the more it becomes clear that our century-old pricing model -- the one which assumes the only product a customer receives from the grid is a kilowatt-hour -- will no longer make sense. Paying for the grid through volumetric rates and revenues isn’t going to work anymore.

In a future where energy is generated and used differently -- and grid loading is changed by increased energy efficiency, distributed generation, and Community Choice Aggregation -- the cost of the grid should be recovered in a way that reflects the value of the services provided, not on the amount of energy delivered.

Although some may view clean energy technologies as a way to cut ties with the utility grid, the reality is most aren’t feasible without it, and many use the grid even more intensively than before.

This means moving toward a rate structure where utilities are compensated for the grid services we provide to customers and customers receive clear value for the things they bring to the grid.

In the meantime, we’re working hard to implement new approaches to energy storage and other applications through the various efforts being led through the CPUC.

That’s part of the point, though. Clean energy technologies will continue to change and multiply, but we need the right regulatory framework that can help further the market and create a clear path instead of a piecemeal approach.

Even in an industry that has continuously changed since its inception, I don’t think there has ever been a period quite like the one we’re in now.

Except, perhaps, for those very early days, when giants like Edison and Tesla first figured out how to harness electricity for the benefit of every home and business. Like them, we have a chance to make a real difference in people’s lives, to change the world for the better, and to shape the course of the future for generations to come.

It’s a very exciting time. And we’re excited to be part of it.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://tdworld.com/news/grid-things-come?eid=forward

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What to Do with an Older UPS

Guidance on What to Do with an Older UPS White Paper produced by APC by Schneider Electric


“When should an older UPS be replaced with a new one?” is a question that virtually all data center owners will have to answer. The answer is not always self evident and depends on several factors. This paper provides data center owners and managers a simple framework for answering the question in the context of their own circumstances and requirements. Three options are explained and compared: run to fail, upgrade, and buy new.

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