Methode—Active Energy: Solutions Maximizing Power While Minimizing Disruptions

Emilie Stone, General Manager
In the world of data centers, enhancing uptime and lowering energy usage are two of the top priorities. Implementing an effective Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system is incredibly important for data centers to achieve the former, but the advent of lithium-ion UPS’s is now providing benefits on the latter.

Lead-acid batteries, which have long held a strong position in supporting bridge-to-backup capability in UPS systems, are being displaced by lithium-ion batteries. Key advantages like high power output density and capacity resilience, regardless of the Depth of Discharge (DOD), give a clear edge to Li-ion over lead-acid batteries and help to improve the bottom line by increasing the operational longevity.

While reducing the total cost of ownership, the long-term dependability of lithium-ion batteries makes them a more reliable energy storage choice for bridge-to-backup solutions. “Our lithium-ion battery systems and power electronics are small in size, but come packed with high power and longer life,” said Emilie Stone, General Manager, Active Energy Solution (AES), a division of Methode Electronics. This feature set makes a lithium-ion UPS a reliable long-term, maintenance free investment.

Methode’s AC6000 Li-ion UPS is designed to integrate with Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) and Intelligent Power Distribution Unit (PDU) solutions. AES assists clients in managing their power resources through utilizing intelligent products and services. “We provide additional consulting services to analyze a customer’s current consumption and power needs. Armed with this analysis, we can design a system that utilizes the efficiency of the AC6000 in avoiding outages while providing an alternative source of peak-usage power,” added Stone. “By default, we monitor the voltage and temperature of every string in the battery pack in real-time and isolate it from the power electronics in case of an issue inside or outside the battery.”

The Power Stabilizer

The AC6000 requires no-maintenance and offers a smaller footprint and higher energy density. These features coupled with longer battery life are perfectly suited for mission-critical power protection. The AC6000 delivers 6,000 watts of base power in 2U form factor and state-of-health testing without the need to degrade the battery while testing for its current state of health. Due to its 2U rack-mountable form factor, rather than employing a heavily cooled and reinforced battery room, the UPS can be deployed in the rack or end-of-row to offer flexibility and simple power runs.

From UPS to Working Asset

In addition to the AC6000’s feature set and benefits, the UPS is not only designed to protect IT equipment from power outages, it also has the unique ability to supplement the AC grid during peak energy consumption. “Our lithium-ion solution gives customers the ability to ‘peak shave,’ supplementing a data center’s power draw from the battery and then recharging it at a non-peak time,” explained Stone. This translates to an op-ex savings over the life of the product as energy consumption at the rack level is slashed.

The AC6000 is poised to solve unique infrastructure challenges for AES’ customers. In one instance, a large medical research firm needed to maintain separate data, server, and infrastructure equipment for several individual research projects.

Our lithium-ion solution gives customers the ability to ‘peak shave,’ supplementing a data center’s power draw from the battery

“All of the information and physical infrastructure that were utilized while conducting studies on Lung Cancer had to be isolated from the research on Alzheimer’s Disease,” commented Stone. Thus, the customer had deployed multiple in-rack UPS’s throughout their campus.

Due to the aging infrastructure typical of the American Northeast and heavy grid-wide loading in the summer due to air conditioning use, the research facility experienced an ever-increasing number of brownouts. Weary from replacing lead-acid batteries as frequently as every six months, the research agency approached AES for an alternative solution. The company installed lithium-ion solutions around the campus, which not only occupied less rack space, but also required low maintenance. Nearly a year and a half after implementing AES’ solution, the client has not experienced any UPS failures, resulting in unhindered research work and a lower total cost of ownership.

More than Just a Battery

Lithium-ion batteries have integrated Battery Management Systems (BMS) that facilitate a host of functions to present information such as precise state-of-charge and end-of-life indications to the user. The backup battery packs embedded in data servers, rack-mounted battery systems, and larger battery cabinets can all use communication protocols to perform unique tasks. AES’ expertise in lithium-ion UPS design and production stems from a successful history in automotive grade lithium-ion battery pack and BMS delivery. “While the primary function of a BMS is to maintain a safe operating environment for the cells, voltage, current, and temperature, it also provides invaluable insight into the state-of-charge and health of the battery to facilitate deci¬sion making on battery replacement,” added Stone. “Through the use of the BMS, one can get superior battery performance, with charging algorithms maximizing cycle life, and tempera¬ture monitoring to increase safety and life.”

“We also offer Power Distribution Unit (PDU) solutions in variety of options including Standard and Intelligent forms, to make appropriate system decisions and communicate with a variety of industry-standard protocols,” stated Stone. The company’s PDUs and products are engineered to meet critical power distribution and protection requirements of a modern data center’s racks and cabinets.

Moving forward, AES intends to continue innovating and introducing enhanced lithium-ion battery solutions in the data center space, alongside expanding their existing product line. “For the future, we plan to offer battery backup solutions for industries where heavy lead solutions are limiting functionality. In short, we want to change the way businesses around the world operate by giving them better and more cost effective solutions,” concluded Stone.

Methode-Active Energy

Emilie Stone, General Manager

Providing long-lasting lithium-ion battery systems in the data center arena, to deliver greater efficiency in battery energy density, battery life and smaller battery footprint.

Methode-Active Energy