The BC 2 – 500: Ultra-High-Rate UPS Battery Cabinet for AI and High Performance Computing 

November 16, 2023
ZincFive BC 2 - 500 UPS Battery Cabinet

The new BC 2 – 500 is the ultimate blend of power, compactness, reliability, and sustainability

Data center operators are tasked with the ever-growing challenge of power density. Made even more prevalent by the rise in high performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI), data centers are looking for opportunities to increase their power density while offering sustainable solutions to ESG-focused clients. To address the market need, we took the already compact, safe and sustainable BC 2 UPS battery cabinet design and filled it with more power. 

The BC 2 – 500 now offers all these great benefits in an even smaller package. Customers focused on getting the most out of their power system now have a new option that can significantly reduce their footprint while increasing their power density by over 25%.  

What’s new? The BC 2 – 500 is packed with ZincFive’s new Z5 13-90 USF battery and an optimized power path design that now offers a 25% smaller footprint than ZincFive’s standard BC 2 battery cabinet, which already led the industry with the smallest footprint per kilowatt and fewest cabinets per megawatt. This not only saves valuable space in the data center for revenue-generating equipment, but also provides even easier shipping, installation, and maintenance. With a 50% higher current carrying capacity, the BC 2 – 500 is not only capable of ultra-high-rate discharges but the inherent reliability of the NiZn chemistry powers it safely through even the toughest scenarios.

What’s the same? Within that meticulously optimized package and consistent form factor, you will find the same nickel-zinc batteries which have consistently provided top-tier reliability, power density, safety, and sustainability over the past decade. It also continues to be paired with an intelligent BMS system which allows for passive operation and no runtime interruptions. While retaining all the proven features that have made the standard BC 2 a customer favorite, our upgraded battery now enables us to provide a wider range of solutions for powering mission-critical environments. 

The best is now even better: let’s look at what the latest BC 2 Cabinet options have to offer. 

Packing Power into the Smallest Footprint in the Industry

In data centers, space is money. The smaller a UPS battery’s footprint, the more white space it frees up for the data center’s profit-making IT equipment, such as servers. With high performance computing and the continued race to develop and leverage machine learning the power required has significantly increased and will continue to do so. And since UPS batteries are arranged in rows, the battery cabinet’s width measurement matters most: narrow battery systems can pack more power capacity into the same row. 

The BC 2 battery cabinet held the industry record for delivering the same amount of power as much larger lithium and lead-acid batteries, in the smallest package available. The BC 2 – 500 takes that to a new level. Leveraging ZincFive’s ultra-high-rate battery and a more robust power path, it will narrow an operator’s lineup by up to 25% vs. the standard BC 2 and up to 50% over typical lithium-ion battery options.  

This battery cabinet delivers more power than a lead-acid battery cabinet twice its size. Lead acid batteries need 240” width, and lithium batteries need 153.5” width, to deliver 1250 kW of power. In contrast, BC 2 cabinets can deliver the same amount with only 84” of linear width.

BC 2 - 500 UPS Battery Cabinet footprint comparison

Compared to the space lead-acid and lithium batteries take up in a data center, the BC 2’s tiny footprint gives operators multiple options. They can use the extra space to generate more profit by installing more servers and other IT equipment. They can select a higher capacity UPS system to fill the space a smaller unit would have. Or, especially in urban areas with expensive real estate, they can save money by developing a smaller data center footprint in the first place. These cabinets are also well-suited to modular data centers since operators can use shorter containers for them.

ZincFive batteries are not just smaller than their counterparts; they are also much lighter and more easily shipped. All the BC 2 cabinet options, which include both the battery and the BMS system, weigh just one third of a lead-acid system with the same power capacity. It’s much easier to transport, especially since the package ships fully complete and assembled. This reduces onsite installation time and the potential for human error.

More Reliable, Durable Backup Battery for Data Centers

Like the standard BC 2 Cabinet, the BC 2 – 500 offers high reliability backup batteries for the data center industry. This reliability stems from several characteristics of nickel-zinc batteries not shared by their lead-acid or lithium counterparts: the ability to pass current through depleted cells, higher current tolerance, and greater operating temperature range.

Each battery string supporting UPS applications contains hundreds of individual cells arranged in series. For example, typical lithium batteries each contain 136 cells per string, and valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries, 240 cells per string. If just one cell in either chemistry’s battery string fails, it can become a high impedance or an open circuit, which prevents the lithium or VRLA battery string from discharging power. One failed cell can result in the data center losing a critical load. Such an event can mean expensive emergency maintenance visits, or more frequent preventative maintenance visits to ensure all failed cells or batteries are replaced immediately.

ZincFive BC 2 - 500 UPS Battery Cabinet

In contrast, even a weak or depleted ZincFive NiZn cell can still pass current through its string safely. This keeps the battery string functional and avoids the need for an emergency maintenance call. Instead, one can simply replace the battery at the next routine maintenance check. 

In addition, nickel-zinc batteries can operate at higher temperatures than most lithium or lead-acid batteries. While most lead-acid batteries require temperatures under 77°F (25°C) and lithium batteries under 86°F (30°C), nickel-zinc batteries can operate at ambient temperatures up to 95°F (35°C) and remain under warranty.  Importantly, ZincFive nickel-zinc batteries have warranty terms that allow for temperature excursions of up to 122°F (50°C) for up to 5% of their operating life without violating the warranty. As data centers consider raising operating temperatures to ease cooling costs and increase sustainability, UPS systems with ZincFive NiZn batteries will provide higher reliability at lower costs. 

A bonus for those in earthquake-prone areas: the BC 2 cabinet options are all seismic-rated with a robust seismic-tested design that makes it resistant to even severe earthquakes, boosting its reliability even further. A wide operating temperature range, coupled with inherent reliability at the cell level, makes nickel-zinc batteries like those in the BC 2 – 500 Cabinet some of the most reliable in the industry

Attract Climate-Conscious Customers with Reduced Emissions 

The growing urgency around climate change and pressure from stakeholders, policymakers, and the public has made sustainability a factor for data center customers as they choose their providers. Data center operators who can prove sustainability within their operations have an edge in attracting customers – and nickel-zinc batteries’ low climate impact helps provide that edge. 

ZincFive’s nickel-zinc batteries have gone through a third-party climate impact analysis and show a significantly lower lifetime climate impact than that of lead-acid and lithium batteries. Their lifetime emissions are only a sixth of lithium batteries’ lifetime emissions, and only a quarter of lead acid batteries’. Sustainable production processes give them a carbon payback time – the time required for emissions savings from the product’s use to offset the GHG of its production – four times faster than that of lithium and lead-acid batteries. 

Closing the Emissions Gap: Data Center Sustainability

Read Paper

The findings of this research allow data center customers to include often-elusive Scope 3 emissions reduction in their ESG reporting. By choosing the BC 2 battery cabinets, data center operators can gain a competitive advantage by showcasing their and their customers’ commitment to sustainability.

BC 2 – 500: The Complete Package

Our engineers designed the BC 2 cabinet to suit the needs of data center operators without compromising on any features. They’ve also designed an ultra-high-rate battery to address the surging demand for power density that accompanies the rapid growth of AI and HPC. 

The BC 2 cabinet, in conjunction with the ultra-high-rate battery, results in the BC 2 – 500. With the smallest footprint in the industry, the BC 2 – 500 offers data centers the ability to maximize their white space and allocate it to more revenue-generating activities. It contains reliable UPS backup chemistry to ensure that critical loads are protected at all times, in any situation. 

The cabinet’s sustainability advantages and minimal maintenance requirements make it an attractive choice for data center operators who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and simplify their operations. 

Building on the success of the standard BC 2, the BC 2 – 500 sets a new bar for the industry for years to come: delivering power whenever you need it, without compromise.