Picture a medical facility and the only place to install a new UPS system is within a Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) building or a container on the roof top.  Immediately, there will be challenges with weight and space.  Although GRP’s are designed to be light, installing them onto a roof top means that extra consideration needs to be given to the weight.  Plus, it gets pretty hot up there on a summer’s day!

For projects like this, where space is limited, Li-ion battery technology can come into its own.  Comparing this with VRLA batteries, Li-ion is around 80% lighter and can occupy 70% less space.

Over the past few years, Li-ion battery technology has developed, and it’s now regarded to be as safe as lead-acid batteries.  As a result, it’s now being adopted by many different industries as standard, and we are starting to see the first Li-ion installations within the datacentre and UPS industry in the UK and further afield too.

CENTIEL’s Li-ion battery solution, LiFePOwer, is oxygen-free and has been built to work with our industry leading UPS.   Because the Li-ion units do not give off oxygen, there is no chemical interaction with the atmosphere, removing any subsequent risk of reaction and thermal runaway.  Each Li-ion solution is fitted with a multi-level battery monitoring system (BMS) as standard. Monitoring at a cell, module, and frame level delivers a comprehensive overview of the battery health and runtime and increases the reliability and safety of the entire system. Any faults are immediately flagged to the person responsible for maintenance and can be swapped out easily and quickly.

We house the oxygen-free Li-ion batteries in a 600mm wide modular frame – just like our modular UPS.  This means each individual battery module can be easily and quickly removed or changed as necessary.  We can offer a common or distributed battery option where either five UPS modules are supported by one battery cabinet, or one battery cabinet is connected to each individual UPS module, creating increased resilience.  The Li-ion battery modules are stacked within the frames vertically, creating a neat, compact solution.

The capital expenditure to purchase Li-ion is higher than for VRLA batteries.  However, these costs can be offset over time as they last twice as long and can operate at much higher temperatures without impairing their design life.   VRLA batteries need an optimum temperature of 20-22degrees C to avoid degradation, while Li-ion can continue to operate without any issues up to 40 degrees C and be kept at the same temperature as the UPS, dramatically reducing the costs associated with installing condensers and running cooling applications over time.   Suddenly Li-ion is not such an expensive option after all.

As well as flexible frame sizes, we can offer different voltages and amp hours to increase the run-time of the UPS. In addition, the BMS incorporates both cell and module balancing controls to optimize the voltages and charging currents of each module maximising performance and increasing service life.

If space is available for VRLA batteries most facilities will continue to go down this tried and trusted route.  However, if space and weight is a challenge, then the sky’s the limit as Li-ion can now offer a viable and safe alternative.

Originally featured in UK Power Magazine July 2021

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