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What is a battery rack connection system?
A well-planned battery rack connection system allows researchers to set up and organize their testing equipment to optimize the safety and efficiency of the lab. The system consists of shelves that can hold the batteries undergoing testing as well as cable management. Here we outline five key reasons a battery testing lab can benefit greatly from a battery rack connection system.
1. Provide a safe laboratory environment
A battery rack not only provides a definitive space for batteries to be stored, but it also allows for better cable management, and together they help prevent tripping hazards and potential dangers.
With a designated space for batteries, it will be easier to keep them out of contact with conductive materials, water, seawater, strong oxidizers, and strong acids as well as other materials that could pose a safety hazard if in contact with batteries. Moreover, it also reduces the risk of physical battery damage from being dropped, falling, or being accidentally knocked over.
Batteries like Li-ion ones have the potential to start fires if misused. Proper storage ensures that the batteries do not sustain physical damage through mishandling. It also allows researchers to easily catch when batteries are damaged or puffed up by giving them a clear and organized overview of the batteries.
With better cable management, it is also easier to identify another potential fire hazard: poor electrical connections. As cables are not left on the floor or hanging between surfaces or machines, the chances of tripping in the lab and accidentally loosening connections or damaging wires could be greatly reduced. Tripping is a common cause of accidents in a lab and can be easily prevented with proper management.
2. Comply with laboratory safety regulations
Safety regulations are put in place for any laboratory setup in order to better prevent avoidable accidents. Many popular cells and other batteries formats used in research are considered hazardous materials. Since batteries are also a fire hazard and may contain toxic chemicals, proper handling and lab safety is critical.
There are several standards in place to ensure that batteries and battery testing are both safe. For instance, the Lithium-Ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment outlines the standards set by international institutions such as the Underwriters Laboratories, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the International Electrotechnical Commission. These standards are in place to ensure consumer safety and to reduce fire and failure risks. A battery rack can assist labs in conducting efficient testing with safe processes.
A well-organized lab can also demonstrate a lab’s competence and professionalism. By meeting battery and battery test standards, a lab shows its commitment to accurate and safe testing. This helps to prove reliability and credibility to a lab’s partners, customers, and investors.
3. Simplify physical battery management
As previously mentioned, battery racks help researchers keep better track of batteries as well as their respective connections. Batteries can be organized by tray or by rack and can be easily labeled by channel and position. During testing, researchers can better tie physical batteries to the data collected or to specific events. When any anomalies or testing issues arise, the relevant battery can be easily found and necessary steps taken before anything happens.
4. Use limited laboratory space efficiently
Labs are full of different equipment, computers, cables, and more. Moreover, researchers would also need sufficient space to safely navigate through the lab and reach certain equipment. Battery racks keep batteries organized, and by stacking upwards, there is more space in the lab for movement or even for extra equipment. An organization system helps keep researchers’ workspace clean and tidy, in turn creating a safer working environment. Racks also make it easier to store batteries in a dry, temperature-controlled space that is required for the safe storage of batteries.
5. Enable greater battery testing productivity
With organized and efficient storage, less time can be spent dealing with various issues. Battery racks reduce potential safety issues and potential hazards from damaged batteries. Batteries that show unexpected or concerning results can be identified and removed quickly. Less time can also be spent working around batteries that are stored randomly or moving batteries when more space is needed.
A lab’s working procedures will also be more efficient and streamlined with better storage. As batteries can be stored on trays, they can be easily removed and switched out once testing is complete. Organized cables will make it more efficient to run and manage the testing process. Batteries can also be easily moved to different locations as needed for different test requirements. All these together reduce the time needed to manage the testing procedures, allowing more time for productive research.
Arbin’s battery rack connection system
Arbin provides battery rack solutions that suit your needs and help you to take advantage of all these benefits for your laboratory. As leading experts in battery testing technology, Arbin battery racks are designed specifically with this purpose in mind. Our racks are made of aluminum and each layer holds one battery track, each of which can hold 4 or 8 battery cells. There is a 7” space in between layers to accommodate different trays or cells. Racks also have lockable casters to keep them in place or to easily move them as needed.
Arbin also has different battery rack options to suit the needs of your lab. Racks come in different sizes: single column with 5 layers; single column with 8 layers; two columns with 16 layers; and three columns with 24 layers. No matter the size of your lab and operation, you can find a rack system that works for you. Different tray types are also available for different types of batteries, including cylindrical cell trays and pouch or flat cell trays. A plain shelf is also available to accommodate other battery holders or battery formats. Cable lengths come in 6 ft, 12 ft, 20 ft, and 30ft to provide the distance you need for convenient connections between batteries and battery test equipment.
Battery Cabinets vs. Battery Racks
This is the seventh in a series of units that will educate you on the part played by a battery in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system.
Early on in a UPS design a decision must be made on whether batteries should be installed on racks or in cabinets. Both have pros and cons. The following are typical design considerations.
Vented lead-acid (VLA) (frequently referred to as “flooded” or “wet cell”) batteries, which are sometimes used on very large UPS systems, are ALWAYS rack-mounted.
Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries can be mounted on racks or in cabinets. The remainder of this paper will address considerations for VRLA placement.
Generally speaking, the larger the battery (both physically and ampere-hour rated), the more likely a rack configuration will be considered. There are no hard and fast rules, but typically once a battery unit (single-cell or multi-cell) gets above 100 AH, it favors rack-mount. Below that, cabinet mounting should be considered.
“Number” refers both to the number of cells in a string, and the number of strings. UPS systems frequently operate at high dc voltages (e.g., 250 to 800 Volts). An analysis must be made on whether to have a minimum number of battery strings using physically large units, or to have multiple strings of physically smaller units. Such decision is outside the scope of this paper, but it would include analysis of reliability (e.g., where and how many could the single-point failures be?) and maintainability (e.g., when is a unit too large for a person to handle, thereby requiring special handling equipment?). Every cell-to-cell connection is a potential single point of failure. Redundancy can increase or decrease reliability, depending upon the number of failure points. Anything over about 23 kilograms (50 pounds) is probably too heavy to lift safely. Local and regional workplace safety codes should be consulted for exact threshold.
‧ Industrial backup power systems.
‧ Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
‧ Telecom, Data Center
UPS batteries must be as close as practical to the UPS. They can be located in:
· an electrical equipment room; or
· a battery room; or
· a computer room
Batteries installed on open racks almost always require installation in a battery room. Sometimes they are installed in the same room as the UPS (i.e., electrical equipment room). Local or regional codes may dictate whether batteries are permitted in an electrical room.
Smaller UPS systems (e.g, up to 250 kVA) are commonly installed directly in the computer room along with their respective battery cabinets. The UPS and/or battery cabinets might be configured to look like standard computer equipment racks.
There are two primary hazards of concern: electrical and fire.
Open rack batteries expose potentially lethal voltage to any person coming in contact with them. Therefore they must be installed in battery rooms in which room access is restricted to authorized personnel only. Authorized personnel must be trained in battery safety.
Battery cabinets must enclose the batteries behind locked doors accessible only to authorized personnel. As long as the cabinets are kept locked, they can be located in a computer room or other rooms accessible by non-battery technicians.
Because even VRLA batteries can vent hydrogen gas (which is flammable and possibly explosive), ventilation (i.e., air exchanges per hour) must be sufficient to ensure that no pockets of gas can collect at the lower flammability limit (LFL). Local codes will dictate the safety margin, which is usually at least 50% below the LFL. Battery rooms must be equipped with exhaust means, which is usually a fan exhausting air to the outside of the building. Local and regional fire codes will set the requirements.
Because air exchanges in most computer rooms far exceed the ventilation of a normal work environment, placement of battery cabinets in a computer room is rarely a problem.
As mentioned earlier, batteries should be as close as possible to the UPS. The reasons are twofold: (1) the longer the cable runs, the greater the voltage drop; and (2) the longer the cable runs, the greater the potential for damage and/or short circuit. Open-rack battery rooms must be adjacent to the UPS room. Battery cabinets must be adjacent to the UPS equipment. Cable lengths from multiple cabinets should be kept as nearly identical as possible to prevent voltage drop variations.
One cabinet should be able to hold at least one complete string of cells. Best practice is that strings should not be split between two cabinets in order to ensure reliability of the entire string.
Battery Racks Market Outlook – 2030
The global battery racks market was valued at $3.3 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $4.7 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 3.8% from 2021 to 2030. Battery racks are designed to accommodate various types of batteries in it, whether it is an open or closed type of battery, lead-acid (Pb), or nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery for its horizontal or vertical placement. These battery racks are designed to be tolerant of earthquakes, racks are solid and rigid, manageable, and acid-resistant. Metal bars of the racks are laminated in plastic and provided a protective coating. These racks are manufactured with hinged components and possible customized features and include battery enclosure with cabling and series string for current protection and disconnects.
COVID-19 pandemic outbreak across the globe has affected the supply of raw material amid government imposed lock down measures owing to which the production of battery racks has been declined which eventually will decline the growth of the market in coming years.
The global demand for battery racks market is primarily driven by rise in demand for high performance battery storage systems in various industries and its applications in power storage, power generation, and telecommunication industries are expected to continue to drive the market revenue growth during the forecast period. Technological advancements, increase in number of small and medium-sized manufacturing industries, and rise in demand for battery racks to store and power various appliances, equipment, lighting systems, devices, and systems are other major factors that drive revenue growth of the global market.
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However, fluctuations in raw material prices are expected to hamper growth of the battery racks market during the forecast period. Furthermore, rise in demand for battery racks from emerging economies such as China and India and innovations in energy storage are expected to provide growth opportunities for the market during the forecast period.
The global battery racks market size is segmented on the basis of type, material, and application, and region. By type, it is analyzed across standard, seismic, relay, and VRLA. By material, it is segmented into steel, plastic, plastic coated, and others. By application, it is divided into power storage, power generation, telecommunication, and others. Region-wise, it is studied across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
The major key players operating in the global battery racks industry include Newton Instrument Co., Storage Battery Systems, LLC, EnviroGuard, Sakcett Systems, Inc., Specialized Storage Solutions, Tripp Lite, Emerson Electric Co., Luminous Power Technologies, Su-Kam Power Systems, and Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
Figure 1 – Battery cabinet with top terminal cells
A battery disconnect switch should be located as closely as possible to the end of a string. On open battery racks, the disconnect switch can be mounted directly to the rack. On battery cabinets, the disconnect switch should be mounted in the door to allow the battery to be disconnected from the UPS before the door is opened. This best practice is intended to protect a worker from exposure to lethal voltage or arc blast in the event of a fault inside the cabinet.
Ease of use is one of the principle selling points for battery cabinets. It is convenient to service the equipment when the UPS and the battery(ies) are right next to each other. Conversely, it is inconvenient to have to go to a separate room when open-rack batteries are installed.
Accessibility must address two potential hazards: electrical and mechanical. The best electrical design will minimize the risk to a worker of accidentally contacting opposite polarity cells with his or her body or with a tool. The best mechanical design will minimize the risk of dropping a unit during installation, maintenance, or removal. It will also minimize the risk of injury due to lifting heavy units above one’s shoulders. Lifting equipment specifically designed for battery installation and removal is recommended. Consult local safety codes for specific restrictions.
From a service perspective, open-rack batteries are usually easier and safer to work on. Racks can be designed with “tiers” (i.e., one row of cells directly above another), or they can be in “steps” (i.e., each row is set back from the row below it so that terminals are accessible with minimum risk of accidentally shorting to the row above.) Tiered racks must allow enough clearance between the top of the cells on one tier and the tier above to allow a technician to safely work on a unit without creating a conductive path between the cell and the rack. Tiered racks can minimize footprint, but they increase floor loading. Stepped racks spread the weight, but take up more space.
Figure 2 – 2-step open rack with top terminal cells
Battery cabinets are frequently criticized for their lack of top clearance. For example, in a cabinet containing multiple strings of low ampere-hour batteries, there might be several shelves, each with one string of cells. The cell units on each shelf might be arranged two, three, or more cells deep. That makes access to the terminals all the way in the back difficult for a technician. Sufficient top clearance for hands and tools becomes critical.
One alternative (usually seen in telecommunication applications, but sometimes seen on UPS), is front-terminal access. Instead of the terminals being on top of the cell units, the terminals face outward. This makes for the easiest access for service, but it requires a cover (usually transparent) or doors to prevent accidental contact with live dc bus. Front terminal systems are usually preconfigured by the battery manufacturer.
In areas geographically designated as seismic zones, additional design features will be required. During an earthquake a battery can experience extreme mechanical damage, including:
– inter-cell and inter-tier connectors warping or breaking
– damage to unit containers resulting in electrolyte leakage or spillage
– short circuits resulting in arcing and/or fire
– battery units sliding off their shelves
– racks or cabinets tipping over
Battery racks should have approved seismic ratings form the manufacturer. These typically include heavy-duty frames and rails to prevent batteries from sliding off shelves. The rails add another procedure for installation and removal of battery units (See Figure 3). Because of its length, a battery rack can experience different torques at the same time in different sections of the battery. Good design anticipates these horizontal and vertical torques and provides some flexibility, including flexible inter-cell connectors. Rigidity can result in damage. Racks are typically seismically secured to a concrete floor. Consult local codes for what is acceptable flooring and bracing.
Figure 3 – 3-tier open rack with top terminal cells
An enclosed cabinet reduces the likelihood of batteries sliding off shelves, but the entire cabinet can be prone to movement, especially if it is mounted on a raised floor (which is typical in a data center). Cabinet doors should be locked at all times when the cabinet is not being serviced. Various approaches to securing a battery cabinet include frames or straps under the raised floor. Under-floor frames are subject to the same building code requirements for fastening to the concrete floor as for racks. They actually raise the center of gravity, thereby increasing the possibility of rocking. Strapping must also be seismically secured to the concrete floor, but it has the flexibility to endure some degree of simultaneous vertical and horizontal movement.
Engage a seismic engineer in the design of any battery system in a seismic zone.
As mentioned in earlier blogs (see #4 and #5 for failure modes and environment, respectively), temperature must also be considered. Room cooling and ventilation is usually sufficient for rack-mounted batteries. Cabinet design, by contrast, must address the problem of removing heat as well as any off-gassing from the battery. Cabinet-mounted VRLA batteries can be expected to operate in a warmer environment than on a rack, thereby potentially reducing the operational life of the battery. Additional cooling is rarely required for a battery cabinet, but the cabinet must have (1) unobstructed paths within the cabinet for hot air to rise, and (2) adequate openings for hot air and hydrogen gas to escape into the room. The volume of air exchange and the air temperature blown into a properly conditioned computer room usually exceeds the requirements for battery cabinets.
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