For Data Centres, power protection systems must be available every second of every day and therefore maximizing system availability must be the overriding objective of any installation. Availability is best described as the percentage of system uptime achieved in a year. To achieve maximum availability, all single points of failure within the UPS need to be removed. Over the years, many improvements have been made in relation to UPS technology and configurations to increase availability.
Availability requires duplication and redundancy which naturally introduces inefficiencies, thereby increasing energy requirements. For example: thirty years ago, the only way to achieve redundancy was to install a number of standalone UPS modules in a parallel topology. These stand-alone systems could be pretty big, for example: 60KVA UPS weighed around 600kg and was the size of a double wardrobe! In addition to the UPS modules were the associated battery systems.
The introduction of transformer-less technology in the early 1990s, by Filippo Marbach, dramatically increased efficiency, decreased size, weight and reduced costs. The true modular UPS concepts, introduced after the year 2000, resulted in even further improvements
The 4th Generation true modular UPS systems now available, provide a significant improvement over previous system designs. This is because each module contains all the power elements of a UPS – rectifier, inverter, static switch, display – and critically – all control and monitoring circuitry. This places it above other current designs that have a separate, single static switch assembly and separate control or intelligence modules as there is no single point of failure. Availability for our CumulusPower UPS which incorporates this Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA) system is now ‘nine-nines’ or 99.9999999%. Hot-swap capability lowers the Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) to only around three minutes.
Scalability and flexibility are also important when installing a system to ensure the continual ‘right sizing’ of the UPS. A system which is too small will be overloaded, compromising reliability and availability. One which is too large will waste energy, be inefficient and costly to run. CumulusPower offers a flat efficiency curve across the whole load range, particularly at lower loads which are inherent in parallel redundant UPS configurations. CumulusPower offers 97% efficiency even at these low loads.
Duplication and redundancy of UPS components must also apply to the communication cables between UPS modules. The most simple communications bus is a single cable. If this breaks or becomes disconnected, the entire system could be compromised.
For this reason, the ring circuit was introduced to the majority of modern UPS systems. If the circuit breaks the signals can simply communicate the other way around the ring. The recent introduction of the Triple Mode communications bus increases system availability even further.
Like its name suggests, there are three paths of communication between UPS modules and frames made up of three separate ring circuits. Three brains communicate with three other brains – it’s the belt, braces and buttons approach.
We liken Triple Mode to the comparison of a tightrope walker. If a tightrope breaks, the consequences will be dramatic and far-reaching. In the same way, a single communications bus is far more precarious than a Triple Mode ring connection which is more like a bridge with multiple supports. Here the single points of failure are completely removed. Even if one or several bridge struts fail, the others will support the load. It does beg the question: how would you prefer to cross the chasm?
UPS technology has seen huge developments over the years. With reductions in footprint and increases in efficiency and availability, the Total Cost of Ownership is now significantly lower. The most modern UPS have become about as close to perfect as possible, keeping in mind there will always be some losses due to the very nature of switching. The incorporation of Triple Mode communications buses further mitigates the risk and moves us further towards power protection perfection.
The team at CENTIEL has been at the forefront of UPS development over the several decades. Our goal is clear: to achieve the ultimate availability of power for our client base. Our leading-edge technology, backed-up with our comprehensive maintenance contracts ensure our clients’ power has the very best protection at all times, now and in the future.
Originally featured in UK Power August 2018
There are some simple yet effective ways to reduce the possibility of power outages at the rack end of the power chain where it is imperative to keep IT equipment running. Here are our top 6 recommend ...
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Leading Swiss Uninterruptible Power Supply manufacturer, CENTIEL, has introduced a simple solution to allow either top or bottom cabling connection for its three-phase, modular UPS system, CumulusPower. This innovative new design now means the UPS can be connected from either high or low level, without the requirement for a separate cable entry enclosure, enabling a more flexible layout within comms rooms and data centres, maximizing the use of space and potentially reducing installation costs.
Mike Elms, sales and marketing director, CENTIEL UK explains: “Up until now, the majority of most UPS units’ final power connections are at low level within the UPS frame. This made the bending radius of larger cables a problem whether the cables were installed at floor level or, even worse, at high level and then had to be run down tray/ladder to then be worked into the bottom of the UPS frame. The solution was to install a separate: ”top cable entry” (TCE) enclosure meaning additional cost and space which can now be saved. The flexible, modular configuration of CumulusPower means we are able to provide the option of having the UPS input terminals at either low or high level within the frame to accept cables from below or above depending on the site requirements.
“Our focus is to work with our clients to provide the very best UPS solutions which are most applicable for their needs. This simple but highly convenient addition of optional top or bottom cable entry, is another example of CENTIEL leading the field in UPS design for benefit of our valued customer base.”
CumulusPower is CENTIEL’s leading 4th generation modular UPS system with unique Intelligent Module Technology (IMT), a fault-tolerant parallel Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA), offering industry leading “9 nines” system availability and very low total cost of ownership. This excellence in system availability is achieved through the fully independent and self-isolating intelligent modules – each with individual power units, intelligence (CPU and communication logic), static bypass, control, display and battery. The solution has been designed to reduce the total cost of ownership through low losses: the high double conversion efﬁciency of 97.1% at the module level means it is currently the best solution available to protect data centre infrastructure as its configuration also reduces downtime risk, avoiding costly errors as well as increasing energy efficiency.
UPS technology has advanced. Mike Elms, Sales and Marketing Director at CENTIEL, explains what to look for when replacing a system, and why new modular systems offer the best power protection
Reliability is often considered to be the key attribute for any UPS solution. However, a system can be reliable over a period of time, but still fail on a particular occasion – with far-reaching consequences. For this reason availability – a system that ideally will not fail – must be the number one priority when purchasing a UPS solution.
Availability can be expressed using the following equation where MTBF equals Mean Time Before Failure and MTTR equals Mean Time To Repair:
Availability = MTBF/(MTBF + MTTR)
Availability is expressed as a percentage and the key number here is MTTR. If MTTR equals zero, then Availability is always 100 per cent, regardless of MTBF.
In recent years modular systems have introduced a significant step-change in the industry because, when properly configured, they are designed to maximise load availability and system efficiency simultaneously. An important advantage is fast replacement and the hot swappable nature of modules. Replacement in less than 10 minutes lowers this critical MTTR figure, thereby driving up the availability percentage.
This gain is achieved because modular systems have a single frame, containing a number (N) of power modules. These run together and share the load equally between them. The advantage of this N+1 configuration is that if one module fails, it becomes isolated. The remaining modules support the load and system availability is preserved. UPS modules are paralleled vertically within a single frame, and frames can be further paralleled horizontally to provide a completely flexible system. There is no single point of failure, contributing to the highest possible level of availability for power protection. The load also remains protected even when an individual module is being replaced.
In the most modern fourth generation UPS systems each module contains all the necessary power elements, including rectifier, inverter, static switch, display and all the control and monitoring circuitry. This is a better design than those which have a separate single static switch assembly and separate control or intelligence modules, once again removing any single point of failure.
The total cost of ownership (TCO) of any replacement UPS should also be considered. As well as the purchase price, the cost of downtime and ongoing cost of maintenance, and the system operating efficiency, all need to be included when calculating TCO.
Modern modular UPS systems have two distinct advantages which contribute to lowering TCO: a flat efficiency curve and Maximum Energy Management functionality. The latest generation Modular UPS systems therefore have online efficiencies of 97 per cent, providing the lowest operating cost to comparable systems.
For example, a legacy transformer based UPS system will waste much more energy than a modern transformerless system. One organisation was recently looking at replacing two standalone 200kVA UPS units running at 82 per cent efficiency. The replacement Modular UPS system with 5 x 50KVA Modules, operating at 96.5 per cent efficiency gave a calculated annual energy saving of over £37,000.
Modular systems also allow organisations to match the UPS system closely to their actual critical load. If this load changes over time, then the Maximum Energy Management function allows redundant Modules to be selected to active-sleep mode.
Modern Modular systems offer all the advantages of high availability, scalability and flexibility to match an organisation’s changing requirements. In addition, they offer the benefits of fast replacement of modules, a small footprint with high power density, and if correctly configured to ensure system right sizing, operating costs that can be kept to a minimum.
However, any UPS that is not maintained properly may ultimately become unreliable and as a result, its availability will be compromised. It is therefore advisable to consider the benefits of a maintenance contract with a trusted supplier.
Originally featured in Network Computing May 2018
Michael Brooks recently presented on ‘How Close to The Perfect UPS is 4th Generation Modular UPS Technology?’ at Data Centre World. Here, he examines whether the latest UPS technology, if correctly configured, can significantly improve both power availability and operating efficiency.
The perfect UPS is 100% available, 100% efficient, takes up no space, costs nothing to purchase and doesn’t require maintenance. With this in mind, how close is the new 4th generation modular UPS technology to perfection, and what else needs to be done to achieve power protection perfection?
To answer these questions we need to look at where the industry has come from. Thirty years ago, the only way to achieve redundancy was to install a parallel UPS system. These stand-alone systems were large! A 60KVA UPS was the size of a double wardrobe and weighed around 600kg. You needed two of these for a parallel redundant system, plus batteries which were typically at least the same size.
The transformers inside were heavy and utilised copper which was expensive. The units typically, 1VA cost £1 to purchase. So a 60KVA UPS cost £60K and again you needed to double up for a parallel system!
Usually, efficiency was at best around 85%, and they were limited by a mean time to repair (MTTR) of around eight hours needed to fix a fault.
Large, high loss power components required equally large heatsinks and cooling fans to keep them cool. Environmental concerns and green house gases were also not considered in those days. These systems consumed huge amounts of power, were big and noisy, cost a lot of money and required regular, invasive maintenance and component replacement. In other words, the UPS systems of 30 years ago were far from perfect!
In the early-90s, transformerless technology was pioneered by Filippo Marbach and his design team, radically shrinking the UPS units. Whilst transformer-less technology has become mainstream today, at the time, it offered dramatically increased efficiency, decreased size and weight and reduced cost. However, although better power components resulted in improved switching efficiencies and quieter operation, customers looking for system redundancy still required two of these units to ensure a parallel redundant UPS system. It still took hours to fix faults in these single units.
Fast-forward to the modular UPS introduced after the millenium and we see further improvements. All the circuitry is contained within each module, making repair more straight forward and therefore, improving availability as well as reducing system footprint.
Today, the fastest growing market sector we see are mid-range three phase modular systems. This is because properly configured modular systems simultaneously maximise load availability and system efficiency. Modular systems are increasingly replacing traditional stand alone and parallel systems with the drive for high availability, fast repair and commonality of parts, as well as reduced system footprint.
The 4th Generation modular UPS systems now available, such as CENTIEL’s CumulusPowerTM, incorporating Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA), provide a significant improvement over previous system designs. Each module contains all the power elements of a UPS – rectifier, inverter, static switch, display – and critically – all control and monitoring circuitry. This places it above other current designs that have a separate, single static switch assembly and separate control or intelligence modules as there is no single point of failure.
Availability for this system is now ‘nine-nines’ or 99.9999999%. This is because the MTTR is around three minutes.
There are other advantages of 4th generation modular technology which takes us even closer to the perfect UPS. Systems in the past only ever reached maximum efficiency when operated at high loads, typically over 80% load. Obviously for the most common parallel 1+1 system, the maximum they could operate at would be 50% to ensure the parallel UPS could take over in the even of failure without overloading. Maximum efficiencies could reach around 80% typically in real world conditions.
From an efficiency perspective, the big challenge is that the IT power requirement in most organizations will change over time. Over a six-year period, a Comms Room with an initial load of 6kW, might easily have expanded to a 30kW load. So how can the infrastructure be built to meet these dramatically changing demands? Put simply, a UPS needs to operate at the most efficient point of its energy curve. A system which is too small will be overloaded, compromising reliability and availability. A system which is too large will waste energy, be inefficient and costly to run. It will also cost more than necessary to maintain due to its size. Scalability and flexibility is therefore an essential consideration when purchasing, to ensure the continual ‘right sizing’ of the UPS.
Our most modern technology now reaches peak efficiency at low loads and the efficiency curve is flat, offering more flexibility. In this way, 4th Generation modular technology such as CumulusPowerTM offers 97% efficiency even at low loads.
Modular also offers the advantage to ‘pay as you grow’ unlike older fixed-size systems. It is also possible to calculate the energy savings when installing new equipment.
A ten-year-old UPS will waste energy at a much higher rate than a modern system, and we are able to quantify precisely the energy and cost saving of a new installation. A recent example was a transport operator looking at replacing a 30kVA UPS running at best at 92% efficiency. A new CENTIEL PremiumTower30kVA UPS for example operates 97% efficiency. We were able to confirm – with the cost of a system typically running at £0.12p/KWH of power – an annual energy saving equating to £1,874.32. The energy saved meant the new UPS system could pay for itself within six years.
There are further benefits of replacing UPS systems and we should aim to be transparent with clients to enable them to understand these advantages. For example: older equipment is less efficient and the waste energy is produced as heat. This requires more air conditioning to keep it at a suitable temperature. The calculation above actually did not include the increased cost of air conditioning to cool older equipment and so in reality, the actual energy and cost savings would be far higher.
So, UPS technology has seen huge developments over the years. UPS systems have become significantly more efficient, take-up less space and cost less purchase and run, and reliability and power availability have increased. The most modern systems have become about as close perfection as possible, keeping in mind there will always be some losses due to the very nature of power conversion and switiching. There simply isn’t much room for improvemrnt at 97%.
For the future, the next barrier to be tackled to improve UPS systems further will be developments in energy storage technology.
We have seen several attempts over the years to move away from the traditional lead acid battery as the primary energy store for the UPS. We’ve seen flywheels, compressed air, fuel cells, super capacitors, and more recently lithium ion batteries. However, the traditional lead acid battery has steadfastly remained the simple, cost-effective solution for the vast majority of installations.
The increasing use of Li-ion technology in the automotive industry has brought the technology forward a long way, and hopefully will eventually drive down costs with higher volumes once supply shortages have been resolved. It is then likely we will see a breakthrough to the mainstream UPS market.
Incorporating Li-ion batteries will inevitably reduce the size and weight of UPS systems further and the longer useful working life of Li-ion will mean fewer costly replacements. All of which will benefit customers.
However, the charging and discharging characteristics of Lithium ion batteries are totally different from lead-acid batteries and so UPS systems need to be able to accommodate these different characteristics. Therefore, the systems of the future will need to be designed with Li-ion in mind. The good news is that CENTIEL’s technology is already Lithium Ready, so installations with existing lead acid batteries will have the option to upgrade to Li-ion in the future, without needing to replace the UPS.
At CENTIEL Ltd our goal is clear: to achieve the ultimate availability of power for our client base. Our leading-edge technology, backed-up with our comprehensive maintenance contracts carried out by our experienced and fully trained engineering teams will ensure our clients’ power has the very best protection at all times – whatever the future holds. Have we developed the perfect UPS? Well not quite, but with an average of 3 milliseconds downtime per year for a correctly configured system we are well on the way to achieving power protection perfection.
Originally featured in Mission Critical Power February 2018
Presenting a paper at the recent Data Centre World conference, Mike Elms posed some searching questions on the subject of fourth generation modular UPS technology. Here, he details that presentation considering the challenges of achieving Tier IV availability, achieving very low PUE and how the latest UPS technology can help achieve the apparently mutually exclusive objectives of Tier IV availability plus very low PUE.
Can fourth generation technology improve datacentre availability above that required by Tier IV (99.995%) and help achieve a power usage efficiency (PUE) less than 1.1?
The primary objective of any datacentre is to achieve the highest possible availability. The Uptime Institute created a tier system (Tiers I-IV) for datacentres. Tier IV fault tolerance (Availability) certification is the highest and requires 2N or 2N+1 duplication/redundancy to give 99.995% availability. Being awarded Tier IV status is advantageous for both the client as it provides the highest level of security of supply and the datacentre as it can receive increased revenue for this enhanced service.
The secondary objective of any datacentre is the highest possible efficiency. The Green Grid has suggested a metric known as power usage efficiency (PUE) which can be calculated by dividing the total datacentre power by the ICT Power, ie total power suppied to the facility divided but useable IT computing power. However, this gives datacentres an Availability versus PUE dilemma: the Uptime Institute’s Tier IV availability requires duplication and redundancy which naturally introduces inefficiencies, thereby conflicting with The Green Grid’s low PUE requirements.
At this point, it must be noted that the two big users of power in a datacentre are: power protection systems (UPS) and HVAC (air conditioning). One Tier IV mega datacentre belonging to Facebook in Lulea, is built inside the Arctic Circle. They have access to free cooling due to its geographical location and it is also built near hydro-power plants which offer multi-path, environmentally clean, reliable power. However, medium and micro datacentres (i.e. almost all datacentres) do not have the opportunity or budget to build inside the arctic circle and are built in and around city and town centres. As a UPS provider, a datacentre’s location is outside of our control but in this article we can consider how the latest UPS technology and innovation can combine the dual benefits of very high availability and very high efficiency in this medium and micro arena.
Tier IV using Monobloc UPS
If a datacentre needs “N” power: an N system has 1 UPS module, an N+1 system has 1 “module” of redundancy, a 2N system has 100% duplication (i.e. two independent paths that are normally refered to as “A” and “B”) and a 2N+1 system has both duplication and redundancy.
If we consider a 2N datacentre with a 100% design load (i.e. two UPS systems, one supplying A and the other B) the maximum load on each UPS in normal operation would be 50%. If the same UPS systems were in a 1+1 parallel redundant configuration (the most common parallel configuration) then there would be two UPS modules supplying A and two supplying B and therefore the maximum normal load on each UPS would be 25%.
However, datacentres never operate at 100% of their design load so if we consider a 2N datacentre with a more realistic 60% (of the design load) as an actual load the maximum normal load on each UPS would be only 30%. If the same UPS systems were in a 1+1 parallel redundant configuration the maximum normal load on each UPS would now be only 15%.
As can be seen in Figure 1, even with the latest transformerless design UPS modules there is >3% difference in operating efficiency between the UPS loaded at 50% and the UPS loaded at 15%. When you consider that datacentres are running 24x7x365 and need a lot of power, 3% “wasted” energy represents a significant amount of power and therefore money over the working life of the datacentre.
What the above demonstrates is that using monobloc UPS and the Uptime Institute’s Tier IV “2N” and/or “2N+1” suggestion(s) to achieve Tier IV levels of availability directly conflicts with The Green Grid’s requirement for a very low PUE. But what if 4th Generation Modular UPS were used? 4th Generation Modular UPS has a number of features which ensure high availability AND reduce PUE.
4th generation modular UPS
From an operating efficiency perspective, 4th Generation modular UPS technology has two very distinct advantages over the previous technology. These advantages are a class leading “true on line” efficiency curve (see Figure. 2 below) and the ability to enter what is commonly known as an “active sleep” mode. Active Sleep Mode is a user enabled function which only becomes active when the actual load is low enough (as defined by the user). In this mode, all UPS modules in excess of those needed to fully support the load with the required levels of redundancy are put into an active sleep which keeps all UPS monitoring and circuitry alive but inhibits the actively sleeping UPS from switching power, thereby eliminating their switching losses and increasing system efficiency.
Tier IV using 4th generation modular UPS
Using exactly the same examples as above, our 2N datacentre with a 100% design load (i.e. two UPS systems, one supplying A and the other B) the maximum normal load on each UPS would still be 50%. However, if the same UPS systems were in an N+1 parallel redundant configuration where N was, say, 5 modules, then there would be 6 UPS modules supplying A and 6 UPS modules supplying B but this time the maximum normal load on each UPS system would be increased to 42%.
As previously stated, datacentres never operate at 100% of their design load so if we consider a 2N datacentre with a more realistic 60% (of the design load) as an actual load the maximum normal load on each 5 module UPS system would still be 30%, however, if the same UPS systems were now in a 6 module parallel redundant (i.e 5+1) configuration and active sleep was enabled the maximum normal load on each fully switching UPS module would now be 75%.It is a given that to minimise power losses (and hence minimise PUE) a UPS needs to operate at the best point of its efficiency curve. A system which is too small will be overloaded, compromising reliability and availability. A system which is too large will waste energy, be inefficient and costly to run. It will also cost more than necessary to purchase and maintain due to its size. Scalability and flexibility is therefore essential to ensure the continual ‘right sizing’ of the UPS and is easily achievable with the latest 4th generation modular UPS. The efficiency curve of 4th generation modular UPS is also much flatter with efficiencies of greater than 96% now achievable even with vey low load levels in the teens. This is how 4th generation modular UPS, when correctly configured, can help minimise PUE.
We have shown above how system configuration can minimise PUE but does the same configuration maximise availability? Availability is MTBF divided by the sum of MTBF plus MTTR. Availability is maximised when Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) is maximised and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) is minimised.
4th generation modular UPS maximise MTBF in a number of ways. Distributed active redundant architecture (DARA), provides a significant improvement over previous UPS system designs. With DARA, each module contains all the power elements of a UPS – rectifier, inverter, static switch, display – and critically – all control and monitoring circuitry. This places it above older designs that have a separate single static switch assembly and separate control or intelligent modules (and therefore single points of failure).
As all 4th generation UPS modules are 100% complete UPS, the fast, simple “hot swap” replacement of a faulty module guarantees a UPS repair regardless of the problem. The key point is therefore speed of repair and a 4th generation modular UPS module takes less than 3 minutes to replace and MTTR is minimised.
The combination of very high MTBF and, most importantly, class leading MTTR, means that 4th generation modular UPS availability of 99.9999999% (“nine 9s”) is achieved. An independent white paper, validated by a leading Swiss university, showing how and why “nine 9s” is achieved in more detail, can be downloaded from the Centiel UK website (www.centiel.co.uk)
The author: Mike Elms is sales and marketing director at Centiel UK Ltd
Originally featured in Data Centre Review April 2018
Over the years, developments in UPS technology have focused heavily on improving efficiency, reliability and availability. Increases in operating efficiencies, while in on-line double-conversion mode, has primarily been achieved by the introduction of transformerless technology in the 1990s.
This removal of the bulky transformer, with the associated significant reductions in size, footprint and weight led to the innovation of the Modular concept. This in-turn reduced the important Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) figure thereby significantly increasing availability. Development in UPS design now realises efficiency figures of 97+%, and the evolution of several generations of Modular UPS systems has increased availability from 99.9995 (six 9’s) to 99.9999999% (nine 9’S). Downtime has been reduced from seconds to milliseconds. Of course, a UPS system doesn’t just comprise of the UPS units themselves but also includes the vital dc source needed to convert and provide outpower power in the event of a mains supply failure.
This dc source has predominantly remained the battery: a simple chemical device used to store energy until it is required. For the UPS world, the traditional ‘go to’ battery has been the Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) block. For many good reasons VRLA has been around for a long time. The technology is old but proven, robust, price competitive, the batteries are recyclable and as a result, have been the back-up of choice for the vast majority of UPS systems. (Note that batteries for UPS systems have been specifically designed for the unique characteristics of the application and therefore the correct battery type must always be used.)
Like any industry there are always improvements in technology and a change in battery type is coming. In the not-so-distant-future UPS systems will be supported by Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery (LIB) technology.
Li-ion batteries had their origins in the early 70s, but the commercial success was really driven by Sony with their handheld video camera of the early nineties. Continued growth and development has been driven by laptops, then mobile phones because we all want our electronics to be smaller, cheaper, more powerful and operate for longer periods.
While critical IT power protection solutions and handheld electronics both share the common goals of demanding more power, occupying less space, longer run times and a justifiable price point, the batteries supporting consumer electronics are not the same as those for data centres.
Interestingly, the adoption of Li-ion within UPS systems so far, has been greater in developing countries in Africa and also the Middle East where the main power grid is less reliable than in the UK and frequent power problems are more commonplace. In these instances, the UPS and battery systems are required to be cycled several times per day! This greater adoption is primarily due to the higher cycling life of Li-ion: typically, 2,500 power-up and down cycles compared with around 300 for VRLA technology.
In the UK and Europe different drivers including the continued rising cost of real-estate will influence the adoption of Li-ion technology far more. This is because the main disadvantages of VRLA batteries are their size and weight. Above ground-floor installation can require structural strengthening of the building simply to house the required batteries. Logistically, moving many tonnes of equipment in and out of an upstairs comms room when batteries need replacing can also present challenges.
In terms of physical footprint there is a significant difference in the two technologies: Li-ion occupies <50% of the size and <25% of the weight of VRLA batteries. Although they are currently a more expensive purchase option, Li-ion’s price is falling rapidly (approximately 80% since 2010) and as a result, cost models and ROI are starting to look increasingly favourable. If you consider the value of comms room space, Li-ion is now starting to be viable for data-centres looking to increase their power density within the same foot print. In-fact we know a small number of European facilities now incorporating small Li-ion systems in their UPS including one house-hold branded search engine.
A further advantage of Li-ion is that it can work at a higher temperature, therefore requiring less-expensive cooling and reducing the amount of overall energy consumed in the comms room. By contrast: an industry standard estimate is that for every 10 degrees above 200C the operating life of a VRLA battery is halved.
As well as being much lighter and being able to work at a higher temperature, Li-ion has a significantly longer design life (around 15-17 years) compared with VRLA which normally needs replacing every 7-8 years for a 10-year design life battery. This level of maintenance can cause issues in-itself.
Depending on what you read, there are numerous of sources of data that suggest a sizable proportion of problems are caused by battery systems. Of course, things are always improving, and some battery monitoring systems also equalise the charge over battery systems, resulting in extended life.
However, when you evaluate total cost of ownership Li-ion is indeed becoming a more attractive solution.
However, are Li-ion batteries ready for primetime and powering the majority of critical facilities?
Not all lithium ion batteries are the same, like the VRLA battery the correct type of block must be chosen to suit the specific application. Common variants of Li-ion are Cobalt, Manganese, Phosphate, Aluminum and Titanite. These all display different levels of characteristics and performance: recharge time, power density and the capability to operate at higher temperatures. Depending on the choice of material for a Lithium-Ion battery, its voltage, energy density, working life time and safety can vary dramatically.
The Lithium-Cobalt oxide (LCO) offers a higher energy density but presents safety risks, especially when damaged. This chemical composition is widely used in consumer electronics. The lithium iron phosphate (LFP), the lithium manganese oxide (LMO) and the lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries offer a lower energy density but are inherently safer. In UPS applications, the most commonly used are the Llithium manganese oxide (LMO) and the lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), which offer the best compromise between performance and safety levels currently available on the Li-ion market.
In the past, you may have read some troubling stories in the press, predominantly about consumer electronic devices. Perhaps you remember the Samsung Note 7s catching fire and being banned from being taken on aircraft! The amount of energy density stored in these devices batteries do present specific problems. Although the incident rate is low compared to the huge quantity of devices in the field it is still an area that needs addressing.
However, high end applications like UPS system don’t quite present the same challenges. Li-ion batteries for UPS systems offer safer chemistries, bigger operating parameters, more robust materials and less stressed user environments. Li-ion manufactures use x-rays as part of quality control and there are safety fuses overcharge protection built in. Chemistry and cell science has improved but also so has the electronic management systems which monitor the battery system, obtaining details of each individual cell such as voltage, current, temperature and alarms, and control the charging regime appropriately.
Because nobody likes being a guinea pig and, by its very nature, the critical power protection industry tends to be particularly risk averse, the first moves to Li-ion batteries in the UPS industry will be by innovators. How soon they will be adopted by the mainstream will likely depend on the experience of these first installations.
We believe that over time, there will be a move towards Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries as cost reductions, driven by developments in the automotive industry, flow through to the standby power sectors. Incorporating Li-ion batteries will inevitably reduce the size and weight of UPS systems and the longer useful working life of Li-ion will mean fewer costly replacements. All of which will benefit customers with reductions in both CAPEX and OPEX and make Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries a winning solution for UPS applications requiring compact, innovative protection. The UPS systems of the future will need to be designed with Li-ion in mind.
In our ever-evolving world, future-proofing systems is one of the greatest challenges faced by system designers. The good news is that CENTIEL’s technology is already Li-ion Ready, so existing lead acid battery installations will have the option to upgrade to Li-ion in the future without needing to replace the UPS.
At CENTIEL UK Ltd our goal is clear: to achieve the ultimate availability of power for our client base. Our leading-edge technology, backed-up with our comprehensive maintenance contracts carried out by our experienced and fully trained engineering teams will ensure our clients’ power has the very best protection at all times – whatever the future holds.
Originally featured in Mission Critical Power Magazine June 2018
Scolmore Group’s innovative IEC Locks have been used by broadcasting giant, BSkyB, to provide vital protection for servers and IT equipment at a number of data centres throughout its UK network.
Swiss-based UPS manufacturer, CENTIEL SA, has announced it aims to quadruple UPS production volumes with the development of a new manufacturing facility located in Lugano, Switzerland. The new factory will become CENTIEL SA’s global headquarters and will house R&D, production, final test, sales and marketing, logistics, finance in addition to quality control of all CENTIEL’s UPS solutions.
Filippo Marbach, founder of CENTIEL SA explains: “Based upon the demand we experienced in 2017 and the growth we are already seeing this year for our 4th generation UPS technology, plus our projected forecasts, it became clear that we would outgrow our existing factory by the end of the year. Our new factory will enable us to quadruple production volumes and we are already future planning to increase production capacity even further in 2020/21.”
Gerado Lecuona, co-founder and global sales director, CENTIEL SA confirms: “Despite being a young company, only founded in April 2015, CENTIEL’s rapid worldwide expansion is a result of the vast knowledge and experience of our key people. Many in the global market already know CENTIEL’s team from their previous work. For example: in the early-90s, transformerless technology was pioneered by Filippo Marbach and his design team. Mr. Marbach was also the driving force behind the design and development of the first fully decentralized three phase, hot swappable, modular UPS. It is this same design team that are now working together again, continuing their passion for technological innovation at CENTIEL SA.”
Lecuona continues: “The factory move, planned for completion by September 2018, will give us both the additional space we need to increase our capacity and also maintain our existing excellence in logistics and speed of delivery. It will also further improve our training and demonstration facilities for customers plus our ever-growing network of channel partners and subsidiaries. By the end of 2018 we expect to have added another four to six subsidiaries across the world.”
Marbach concludes: “Significant effort has been put into CENTIEL’s pre and post-sales support infrastructure to ensure it delivers class leading service across the globe. When your solutions are deployed in the Arctic Circle and in the deserts and rain forests of the world, delivering excellence consistently requires considerable organization and resources. However, we are passionate about supporting our clients and ensuring their power is always protected regardless of their location. We are looking forward to broadening and deepening the company’s product range further before the end of 2018.”
CENTIEL has recently launched new 25kW and 60kW UPS modules for its pioneering 4th Generation Modular UPS system: CumulusPower. This industry leading three-phase, modular system is now offered with 20% more power density. These new modules complete the family which also includes: 10kW, 20kW and 50kW options.
CENTIEL also offers: PremiumTower a stand-alone version ideally suited to applications where minimising total cost of ownership is a significant factor, offering the ultimate in UPS flexibility.
For further information please see: www.centiel.co.uk
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CENTIEL UK Ltd, the UK subsidiary of Swiss-based UPS manufacturer, CENTIEL SA, has launched new 25kW and 60kW UPS modules for its pioneering 4th Generation Modular UPS system: CumulusPower. This industry leading three-phase, modular system offers 99.9999999% (“9 nines”) system availability with low total cost of ownership and now with 20% more power density. These new modules complete the family which also includes: 10kW, 20kW and 50kW options, offering the ultimate in UPS flexibility.
“Real estate is expensive and so datacenters need to save space where they can,” confirms Mike Elms, sales and marketing director, CENTIEL UK Ltd. “In addition, more space and racks in a facility can in turn, potentially generate revenue for the operation. Therefore, a UPS which provides the most power, using the smallest footprint possible is a valuable asset.
“The new 25kW and 60kW versions of CumulusPower have all the benefits of our existing industry leading Modular UPS but now offer yet more power in the same the same footprint. Unlike traditional multi-module systems, the CumulusPower technology combines a unique Intelligent Module Technology (IMT), with a fault-tolerant parallel Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA), to remove single points of failure and offer industry leading availability.
“9 nines system availability is achieved through fully independent and self-isolating intelligent UPS modules – each with individual rectifiers, inverters, static bypass, CPU and communications logic and display,” explains Elms. “In the unlikely event of a module failure, the module can be quickly and safely “hot-swapped” without transferring the load to bypass and raw mains.
“In addition, CumulusPower has been designed to reduce the total cost of ownership through low losses,” confirms Elms. “The high double conversion efﬁciency of 97% at the module level means it is currently the best solution available to protect data centre infrastructure as its configuration also reduces downtime risk, avoiding costly errors as well as increasing energy efficiency.”
CENTIEL UK Ltd’s UK-wide team of engineers support a significant customer base with a range of maintenance contracts: from fully comprehensive to maintenance and emergency call out only. Mike Elms continues: “Our engineers are on call 24/7, but like our clients, we prefer to avoid emergencies! It is therefore in our interests to provide the highest quality UPS solutions possible and so we are delighted to introduce the new 25kW and 60kW UPS module versions of CumulusPower now offering the ultimate in power protection to our valued client base.”