Free Up Data Center Design And Provisioning With The Right Backup Battery Chemistry

September 8, 2021

Looking for a magic bullet to optimize the cost and speed of designing and provisioning a data center? Sorry.

“There is no single technology or practice that can be credited — these faster, cheaper builds are achieved through a combination of technologies and practices,” writes Rhonda Ascierto, VP of Research at the Uptime Institute.[1]

For example, she mentions that higher rack power density helps to reduce floor space and building size. But what about cooling that server-stuffed facility? What about maintenance?

There is help, however. Choosing the right backup battery technology can make the design tradeoffs easier to balance, and lower data center TCO. Yes, really. We’ve written an article to help you understand the impact, called “New battery tech frees up design tradeoffs for provisioning data centers.”

I recommend you download and read the article. But while you’re here, let me summarize the key points.

Lower modular design costs

Modular data center design helps to lower design and construction design costs in large-scale cloud and colocation data centers. In modular data centers the UPS and critical power equipment are typically located outside of the main structure within their own electrical house or container. The key to lowering the CapEx of the electrical house design is to reduce the size, weight, and complexity of components in the container.

Batteries using nickel-zinc (NiZn) technology have the smallest footprint and lightest weight per watt, compared to lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. This reduces modular container size, weight bearing capacity and cost.

The Integra PowerBlox is an example of a modular power solution housed within its own container.
Photo source: 

Fewer battery racks

The backup needs of the data center – power consumption and length of runtime – define the amount of battery storage needed. The power density of the battery chemistry determines the number of needed battery cabinets. Higher density equals fewer racks—which equals less floor space and lower CapEx. And no battery chemistry in the data center market has higher power density than NiZn.

Less cooling

Most lead-acid batteries must operate no higher than 25° C. The data center must keep them cool. Lithium-ion batteries can operate at a somewhat higher temperature. NiZn batteries have the highest operating temperature of all, up to 35° C. That gives the data center designer more freedom in where and how much HVAC is needed for the UPS room.

Lower safety requirements

The relative safety of battery chemistries also has implications for data center facility design. Under the relevant fire safety standard NFPA 855, the maximum energy capacity inside a single battery room within the data center complex may, in some cases, be restricted. Under NFPA 855 guidelines, lithium-ion battery capacity can be restricted to 600kWh in total per fire enclosure area. It’s all up to the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), and one more factor data center designers need to balance. By using NiZn batteries instead, the designer doesn’t have to worry about that.

More sustainability

Many data center operators are also committed to improving the sustainability of their operations. Engineers who plan to use NiZn battery backup in their data centers can contribute to this corporate goal as well. NiZn batteries ranked higher than lead-acid and lithium-ion chemistries in several environmental criteria, according to a recent Climate Impact Report performed by Boundless Impact Research & Analysis.[2]

While sustainability may not be a primary design criterion, it is probably a corporate priority, so the data center designer may be able to check that box off and balance all the other tradeoffs. It’s not a simple challenge, but it can be made easier by choosing the best battery technology for data center backup—NiZn.

Download the article “New battery tech frees up design tradeoffs for provisioning data centers” now and get the more complete picture.




Steve Jennings
Steve Jennings
Sr. VP Sales & Marketing, ZincFive
Steve leads the ZincFive sales and marketing team and brings senior executive experience in technology companies serving the energy, clean tech, communications, computing and semiconductor industries. Steve and his team are focused on providing superior performing, safer and greener energy storage solutions based on nickel-zinc batteries to mission critical applications in the data center, IT and intelligent transportation markets.
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