back to article Take Note: Schneider's teeny-tiny Galaxy VS li-ion UPS set to explode onto data centre scene

Schneider Electric has squeezed out a line of compact three-phase UPS systems designed for small data centres and edge computing locations. Galaxy VS can support between 10kW and 100kW of load with up to 97 per cent efficiency in normal operating mode, while taking as much space as a single rack of IT equipment. It can be …

  1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Fire Risk ?

    Lead acid batteries have a VERY big advantage over Lithium ion for UPS use - they do NOT catch fire. A Lithium ion battery large enough to power a 100kW UPS is a big firework waiting to ignite. Like a firework - once ignited the external atmosphere is unimportant - it will continue burning in CO2.

    If such a Lithium ion battery is to be used then it needs to be in a separate fireproofed room away from the rest of the IT equipment. The battery should not be in the same room as the UPS so that a battery fire does not drag down the mains supply to the IT equipment.

    (Large lead acid batteries are normally in a separate room to stop acid fumes from damaging equipment.)

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Fire Risk ?

      I do note they say 100kw but no mention of runtime. Energy density is what's important here...if we're talking whole-facility backup for smaller installations (what a 3-phase 100kW unit can do) with runtime measured in tens of minutes, that's not just a firework -- that's a bomb with thermite mixed in and then some.

      Keep that chunk of lithium well away from the servers, offices, car park, etc., and DON'T put it in a basement that could flood -- water and burning lithium together are about the only thing worse than a chunk of burning lithium!

      And about that smartphone app. Please tell me the Internet connected bits are physically isolated from the controller bits, otherwise they've just created a ticking thermite bomb waiting for a hacker to find their way in. At this risk level I start to think legislation may be needed -- minimum security standards for equipment that could be installed in densely populated areas and pose a significant risk. Part of that standard should be the vendor accepts all liability, including damages, for any malfunction if they connect it to the Internet or recommend it be connected to the Internet.

      Think about it: most of the civilized world requires insurance to drive because you might not be able to pay up in the event you cause damages. Maybe vendors of dangerous IoT stuff should be required to purchase insurance for their products just in case they go belly up at the first significant claim?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fire Risk ?

        The fact that " monitored remotely, using the company's smartphone app" made it into the first paragraph makes me think you won't be pleased with either the runtime or the security specs on this unit.

        The flammability of the batteries doesn't worry me a ton, as long as it gets housed with the same care as a diesel tank for a generator. If this lives in a conventional data center, well, make sure your insurance is paid up.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Fire Risk ?

          You're forgetting - diesel doesn't burn very well. You can happily throw a match into the tank and it will just float. To burn diesel, you need a fine mist.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Fire Risk ?

          The interesting thing of Diesel , Natural Gas, etc ... they are stored in tanks, outside of your building.

          If you want, you can put 3 sided walls around the tank (cinder block w concrete and rebar inside) to help direct the blast away from the building. The fourth side is open to allow access for refilling tank. (You could even put up a blast wall on that side too but away from the tank. )

          Most of the energy and flame from the blast goes up.

          That said... there are some newish developments on the Li battery tech that reduces the risk of fire. Still, if it were my DC ... I'd isolate it as much as possible. Definitely a firewall/blast wall and try to direct a blast upward.

          1. AMBxx Silver badge

            Re: Fire Risk ?

            We have propane cylinders for the hob on our cooker. It's heavier than air so had lots of fun proving that all the drains had u-bends just in case the propane leaked and filled up the septic tank - very smelly possible explosion!

    2. katgod

      Re: Fire Risk ?

      There are several types of Lithium ion batteries and they should not all be lumped together. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are much less prone to have a fiery death.

      1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

        Re: Fire Risk ?

        It is true that Lithium iron phosphate batteries are less of a fire risk - however they have a lower energy density than Lithium cobalt oxide batteries. This lower energy density is enough to make even companies that should know better decide not to use them. (Boeing on its 787 Dreamliner for example.)

        1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

          Re: Fire Risk ?

          LiFePO still have more capacity than lead-acid and a much longer lifespan than other rechargeable batteries.

          The only real advantage of lead-acid is that they can be made of garbage and still put out enormous amounts of power just long enough to make a UPS spec sheet look really good. Some of the little ones can get near 1kW for a few seconds before they have water and gas build-up insulating the plates.

          1. rcxb Bronze badge

            Re: Fire Risk ?

            "LiFePO still have more capacity than lead-acid and a much longer lifespan than other rechargeable batteries."

            Ni-MH batteries have the same lifespan, even better safety margins, and have been around decades longer.

    3. rcxb Bronze badge

      Re: Fire Risk ?

      "Lead acid batteries have a VERY big advantage over Lithium ion for UPS use - they do NOT catch fire."

      No they don't. Instead lead-acid batteries just explode suddenly and for absolutely no reason:

      https://appel.nasa.gov/2018/06/25/spotlight-on-lessons-learned-battery-explosion/

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inflamable means flammable?

    Lead acid marine batteries were one of the prime causes of death of diesel/electric submarines, venting and leaking all sorts of serious nastiness if they kick off. They will also burn with a vigor that was the terror of many a battery room technician. Plastic, Sulfuric Acid and Lead != fire friendly materials. Hence a modern UPS uses SLA batteries inside an enclosure instead of a WW2 battery shelf. Also note that the FAA has flight rated Lithium battery packs for use in commercial passenger aircraft. That said, don't slot one of these in under your DAS arrray.

    Additional training is certainly a good idea, but most of us managed to survive working around Halon systems, so I don't see this as work environment deal breaker. That said, I'd prefer it to live in it's own cabinet, with a dedicated vent to the outside, and preferably a nice bottle of inert gas to go with it. I would also sticker the hell out of it so that the Fire department doen't decide to pry the enclosure open with a fire axe and spray water on it.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: Inflamable means flammable?

      Big UPS systems (upwards of 50kWh) use vented lead acid batteries - not sealed units. The lifetime of properly maintained vented lead acid batteries is far longer than for sealed lead acid batteries.

      In submarines the problem was that sulfuric acid and seawater react to produce chlorine gas.

      SLA batteries are used in smaller installations where there is unlikely to be competent battery maintenance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inflamable means flammable?

      > They will also burn with a vigor that was the terror of many a battery room technician. Plastic, Sulfuric Acid and Lead != fire friendly materials.

      Error: does not compute. How are they supposed to burn with vigor if not fire friendly?

    3. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: Inflamable means flammable?

      Spraying water is the recommended way of dealing with Li-Ion battery fires, to cool it down.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Schneider Electric

    ... better known as the brand APC.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Schneider Electric

      Ah, so they'll be 10-15% more expensive than the competition and they'll charge extras for such luxuries as a network card.

      1. Missing Semicolon
        Unhappy

        Re: Schneider Electric

        Hmmm. APC and SLAs. The upses I have seen from them keep the batteries so fully charged (to meet the runtime specs) that the cells melt in a couple of years. Yes, melt, swell, get stuck in the chassis, get crazy hot. If they were just a little more conservatively charged they would last for a lot longer.

        1. rcxb Bronze badge

          Re: Schneider Electric

          Eaton is far better in that regard, they're advertise their ABM system. Just about all other UPS manufacturers copy APC's lead. It's really not because of run time specs, but because a constant float charge is just the simplest and cheapest way to charge a battery. Never-mind that not only do they not lose money when the batteries fail, they actually earn money every time you swap the battery.

    2. Why Not?

      Re: Schneider Electric

      Actually Galaxy was an MGE / Merlin Gerin brand name. They have a history of pushing battery technology, the NiCad ups and even the water cooled UPS.

      APC unfortunately for their investors weren't as inventive.

  4. Frank Bitterlich

    Coming up next...

    ... a 100 kW LiPo UPS.

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