1a-2

SERVICE LIFE LIMITATIONS OF FLOODED LEAD A C I D BATTERIES I N UPS SERVICE
W.

T. Rutledge

PACIFIC BELL

BBSTRACT
T h i s paper d e s c r i b e s d i f f i c u l t i e s t h a t have e v o l v e d i n t h e a p p l i c a t i o n of flooded l e a d a c i d b a t t e r i e s t o Uninterr u p t i b l e Power Systems (UPS) s e r v i c e . I n d u s t r y p r e s s u r e s f o r g r e a t e r power d e n s i t i e s appear t o have r e s u l t e d i n developments t h a t may have been count e r p r o d u c t i v e t o t h e s e r v i c e l i f e of t h e UPS c e l l s . The h i g h c u r r e n t , s h o r t term d i s c h a r g e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s t h a t are d e s i r a b l e f o r UPS a p p l i c a t i o n s r e s u l t i n b a t t e r y d e s i g n s t u n e d t o less t h a n U n i n t e r r u p t i b l e Power optimum l i f e . Systems a r e g e n e r a l l y a p p l i e d t o l a r g e computer d a t a c e n t e r s . The d a t a c e n t e r managers, who a d m i n i s t e r t h e s e a p p l i c a t i o n s , t e n d t o be less informed on t h e l i f e / c o n s t r u c t i o n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of b a t t e r i e s t h a t can r e s u l t i n unforeseen and s e v e r e economic l o s s e s f o r t h e i r This paper d e s c r i b e s manage men t . e f f o r t s by t h e I E E E t o p r o v i d e a p p l i c a t i o n s d o c u m e n t a t i o n d e s i g n e d t o reduce t h i s information gap, b r i n g t h e matter o u t i n t o t h e open, and r e d u c e t h e s e c o m p e t i t i v e p r e s s u r e s on t h e b a t t e r y and UPS i n d u s t r i e s . UPS u s e r g r o u p s are now f o r m i n g t o discuss and compare common problems. U n f u l f i l l e d b a t t e r y l i f e has s u r f a c e d as t h e i r foremost d i f f i c u l t y . I n i t i a l inv e s t i g a t i o n s by West c o a s t UPS u s e r s and s e v e r a l UPS maintenance c o n t r a c t o r s have d e f i n e d t h e problem as f o l l o w s :

HIGH P O W E R DENSITY BATTERIES
A f t e r i n i t i a l UPS i n s t a l l a t i o n s were equipped w i t h g e n e r a l p u r p o s e telecomm u n i c a t i o n s t y p e c e l l s , t h e b a t t e r y manufacturers, i n a n e f f o r t t o meet c u s tomer demand f o r "more Watts per u n i t volume" responded w i t h s e v e r a l d e s i g n changes. First, electrolyte specific g r a v i t i e s were i n c r e a s e d t o p r o v i d e b e t t e r s h o r t term d i s c h a r g e r a t e p e r f o r mance. Second, p l a t e g r i d d e s i g n s were improved t o b e t t e r c o l l e c t e n e r g y from areas more d i s t a n t from t h e b a t t e r y posts. A heavier o v e r a l l current coll e c t i o n s y s t e m was b u i l t i n t o t h e c e l l s i n c l u d i n g copper i n s e r t s i n t h e p o s t s t o accommodate t h e v e r y h i g h s h o r t term d i s c h a r g e rates. T h i r d , p l a t e s were t h i n n e d down t o a l l o w t h e g r e a t e r s u r f a c e d i s c h a r g e a c t i o n t h a t accompanies high discharge rates. A l s o , i n some c a s e s t h e d e n s i t y of t h e a c t i v e m a t e r i a l p a s t e d i n t o t h e plates was d e c r e a s e d t o allow b e t t e r conductivity t o t h e inner s u r f a c e a r e a s of t h e a c t i v e m a t e r i a l . F i n a l l y , t h e h e a v i e r , f i b e r g l a s s , posi t i v e p l a t e r e t a i n i n g mats t h a t h o l d t h e d e l i c a t e lead dioxide charge crystals a g a i n s t t h e s u r f a c e s of t h e p o s i t i v e plates were e i t h e r t h i n n e d t o t h e t h i c k ness of t i s s u e paper o r c o m p l e t e l y removed. Each of t h e d e s i g n changes t h a t s o enhanced t h e h i g h r a t e UPS performance a l s o tended t o d e c r e a s e t h e c e l l l i f e and l i m i t i t s a b i l i t y t o h a n d l e t h e deeper discharges t h a t a l s o tend t o accompany h i g h r a t e u s a g e . The u s e r s f o r t h e most p a r t , however, were n o t made aware of t h e consequences of t h e i r h i g h power d e n s i t y s e l e c t i o n s on t h e e x p e c t e d b a t t e r y s e r v i c e l i f e . O f t e n , i n new UPS i n s t a l l a t i o n s , t h e b a t t e r y is p u r c h a s e d t h r o u g h t h e UPS s u p p l i e r who may be unaware of t h e h i g h power d e n s i t y r i s k s o r he is under p r e s s u r e of price c o m p e t i t i o n and may t e n d t o c u t corners with t h e battery.

HISTORY Historically, t h e major commercial b a t t e r y a p p l i c a t i o n s have been i n t h e r a i l r o a d , t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s and elect r i c u t i l i t y markets. Each of t h e s e market segments is p o p u l a t e d by enough r e l a t i v e l y l a r g e companies who c a n a f ford the technical expertise t o e f f e c t of product q u a l i t y through control t h e i r purchasing p o l i c i e s .
UPS

The emerging UPS b a t t e r y m a r k e t , u n l i k e t h e p r e v i o u s m a r k e t s , is c o n s i d e r a b l y less s o p h i s t i c a t e d i n i t s b a s i c knowledge of b a t t e r y t e c h n o l o g y . N e w o r r e p l a c e m e n t b a t t e r i e s are o f t e n proc u r e d by Data C e n t e r managers o r b u i l d i n g maintenance p e r s o n s . The demands o f t h i s market have d r i v e n t h e b a t t e r y m a n u f a c t u r i n g i n d u s t r y i n t o a competit i v e race t o p r o v i d e t h e h i g h e s t poss i b l e power d e n s i t y . The UPS u s e r s have n o t r e c o g n i z e d t h e b a t t e r y d e s i g n trade-offs t h a t can r e s u l t i n reduced battery life.

379

CH2653-4/88/0000-0379 $01 00

C

1988 IEEE

however. T h i s p o s s i b i l i t y g e n e r a t e d . may u s e t h e l o a d t o make v o l t a g e d r o p measurements of t h e i n t e r c e l l connections. t h e u s e r might be c o n s t r a i n e d . t o keep t h e t e m p e r a t u r e down t o 580F t o e x p e c t f u l l t w e n t y year battery l i f e . The p u z z l i n g q u e s t i o n w i t h t h i s s c e n a r i o is t h a t t h e u s e r s g r o u p had members w i t h m u l t i p l e aged i d e n t i c a l UPS modules. . i n e observed a t h e same b a t t e r y room. I n t h e case of a s o f t AC power l i n e . The I n v e r t e r stage of t h e UPS. a well meaning u s e r who wishes t o be c e r t a i n that his connections are p r o p e r l y t o r q u e d and c a p a b l e of c a r r y i n g t h e h i g h r a t e l o a d s . A DIFFERENT LOAD The UPS inverter presents a f a r d i f f e r e n t l o a d t o a b a t t e r y t h a n any of our previous industry a p p l i c a t i o n s . For i n s tance. F u r t h e r tests showed. We. Rec o g n i z e t h a t p r e v i o u s b a t t e r y l o a d s were generally random i n n a t u r e ( t e n s of r e l a y s ) and thousands of telephone t e n d e d t o p r e s e n t a r e l a t i v e l y smooth load to the battery. under w a r r a n t y . it would seem l o g i c a l t h a t t h e s e r i p p l e c u r r e n t s could s t r i p t h e d e l i c a t e lead d i o x i d e ( c h a r g e ) c r y s t a l s from t h e now unprotected s u r f a c e s of t h e p o s i t i v e plates. They were. Also. A t t h i s point t h e t e l e p h o n e company UPS u s e r s c a l l e d upon t h e i r more e x p e r i e n c e d b a t t e r y people to further define the root problem. however. great i n t e r e s t f r o m t h e b a t t e r y and UPS s u p p l i e r s . draws massive amounts of e n e r g y a t t h e 60/360 H z rate. of AC ripple Tests EARLY POSITIVE PLATE FAILURES A s t h e UPS u s e r s banded t o g e t h e r t o compare maintenance n o t e s . magnitudes lower than the newer UPS d e s i g n s . The m a n u f a c t u r e r s f e l t t h a t t h e p l a t e f a i l u r e s were t h e r e s u l t of e x c e s s i v e d e e p d i s c h a r g e c y c l i n g . t e l e communications c e l l s . however. Calcium c e l l s t e n d t o be h e a v i l y d e p e n d e n t on f i b e r g l a s s p o s i t i v e p l a t e wrap t o s u p p o r t deep d i s c h a r g e c y c l i n g characteristics. it s o o n became e v i d e n t t h a t t h e i n d u s t r y was exp e r i e n c i n g a v e r y h i g h i n c i d e n c e of early battery failures. The u s e r saw t h e same t w e n t y year warSome manufacturers added ranty . a t f i r s t . t h a t t h e f i l t e r banks were p u l l i n g t h e i r p r o p e r s h a r e of t h e r i p p l e currents. Measurements a t s e v e r a l o t h e r u s e r l o cations revealed similar high r i p p l e c u r r e n t s i n t h e new UPS c e l l d e s i g n s .1a-2 WARRANTIES A l l of t h e s e f a c t o r s have f o r c e d t h e b a t t e r y manufacturers i n t o a highly competitive effort t o o f f e r higher power d e n s i t i e s a t lower c o s t s . Also. t h e r e c t i f i e r s were well a b l e t o k e e p up rate of current with the slower changes. whose b a t t e r y f a i l u r e modes d i f f e r e d g r e a t l y . The new lower impedance b a t teries who c a n s o r e a d i l y respond t o t h e need o f t h e i n v e r t e r a p p e a r t o p r o v i d e t h e s e s h o r t term e n e r g y r e q u i r e m e n t s . One UPS m a n u f a c t u r e r f e l t t h a t r i p p l e c u r r e n t s were of t o t a l l y no consequence -s t a t i n g t h a t b a t t e r i e s were e v e n known t o be f l o a t e d on h a l f wave rect i f i e d power w i t h o u t any a d v e r s e a f f e c t . Initial inspection of several s t r i n g s of t h e f a i l i n g c e l l s showed exc e s s i v e amounts of p o s i t i v e p l a t e mat e r i a l sloughed o f f i n t o t h e sediment basins. as you might e x p e c t . d i d n o t o c c u r . A few f e e t away. W e recorded one l o c a t i o n w i t h 14 year o l d telecomm u n i c a t i o n s c e l l s t h a t were s t i l l p e r f o r m i n g v e r y well. a l s o r e c o r d e d what w e considered very high r i p p l e currents. F u r t h e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n of t h e b a t t e r y i n d u s t r i e s attempts t o provide t h e h i g h e s t p o s s i b l e s h o r t term c u r r e n t rates. s u s p e c t e d poor maint e n a n c e of t h e UPS r e c t i f i e r s t a g e f i l ter c a p a c i t o r s . a l l i d e n t i c a l l y t r e a t e d . led us t o b e l i e v e t h a t t h e n e c e s s a r y lower b a t t e r y impedance had provided a b e t t e r s h o r t c i r c u i t p a t h f o r t h e ripple c u r r e n t s than t h e intended rectifier f i l t e r c a p a c i t o r s . with higher s p e c i f i c gravity. The o l d e r . c l a u s e s t o l i m i t l i a b i l i t y . it is easy t o l o g many heavy d i s c h a r g e s d u r i n g t h e UPS i n s t a l l a t i o n / t e s t i n t e r v a l b e f o r e t h e u s e r even p l a c e s t h e system in service. Certainly. One might e x p e c t t h a t a d r o p i n w a r r a n t y i n t e r v a l s would f o l l o w a l o n g w i t h t h i s effort. with t h e high r a t e UPS d i s c h a r g e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . A l s o . t h e f a i l i n g cells revealed c u r r e n t s of as much a s 4 0 0 times t h e e x p e c t e d f l o a t c u r r e n t s f o r t h e f l o a t v o l t a g e s a t which t h e c e l l s were b e i n g o p e r a t e d . w newer design UPS b a t t e r y t h a t had TOTALLY f a i l e d a f t e r o n l y s e v e n y e a r s of a p p a r e n t l y i d e n t i c a l t r e a t m e n t ? UPS. however. t h i s e n e r g y must come from e i t h e r t h e f i l t e r c a p a c i t o r s in t h e r e c t i f i e r s t a g e o r from t h e batteru. T h a t .

W e . A n IEEE t a s k f o r c e has been formed under t h e S t a t i o n B a t t e r y Working Subgroup. S. UPS d e s i g n c o n s u l t a n t s . t h a t t h e s e cons t r a i n t s were d i c t a t e d by one of t h e i r major m a r k e t s . H i g u c h i . c y c l i c a l e n e r g y req u i r e m e n t s of t h e i n v e r t e r g e n e r a t i n g e v e n h i g h e r r i p p l e CURRENTS t h a n might be measured i n a n u n l o a d e d . A DIFFERENT LOAD (Cont. P r e v i o u s r i p p l e / l i f e papers have n o t well d e f i n e d t h e e f f e c t s o f r e t a i n i n g mats. l i k e a c a p a c i t o r . R u t l e d g e . With no l o a d on t h e b a t t e r y . I E E E INVOLVEMENT A t t h i s p o i n t . J o u r n a l of Applied E l e c t r o c h e m i s t r y -16 (1986) (894-898) S p e c i a l Thanks To D r . t h e t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s i n d u s t r y . 0. The r e c t i f i e r s pres e n t a n e x t r e m e l y low r i p p l e v o l t a g e from t h e i r s i x phase b r i d g e well f i l t e r e d systems. F e d e r f o r h i s e f f o r t s in e d i t i n g t h i s document. A major d i f f i c u l t y . The case f o r i n v e r t e r s is j u s t t h e o p p o s i t e . Pacific Bell Reference: " I n f l u e n c e O f Superimposed Alternating Current On Capacity and C y c l e L i f e For Lead Acid B a t t e r i e s " . t h o u g h . under f i r e from t h e i r c l i e n t s . Even t h o u g h t h e r i p p l e VOLTAGE i s exc e e d i n g l y HIGH. I t is p o s s i b l e . Nakamura. S. T .1a-2 UPS. it c h a r g e s t o a peak v a l u e w i t h l i t t l e discharge from i t s i n t e r n a l l o s s e s . W. 0. p o s i t i v e p l a t e e n c a p s u l a t i o n . T a k a h a s h i . ) T h i s i s of c o u r s e v e r y t r u e . t h e r i p p l e CURRENTS are v e r y LOW. T h i s g r o u p is i n t h e p r o c e s s of p r e p a r i n g a u s e r l e v e l i n f o r m a t i v e document t h a t w i l l prepare t h e new UPS market t o select t h e b e s t energy s t o r a g e system t o meet t h e i r needs. User g r o u p i n q u i r i e s d i s c l o s e d s i m i l a r e a r l y f a i l u r e s i n s e v e r a l manuf a c t u r e r s UPS p r o d u c t l i n e s and were v e r i f i e d by s e v e r a l UPS b a t t e r y maintenance c o n t r a c t o r s . the u s e r s . DO RIPPLE CURRENTS DAMAGE? One might c e r t a i n l y e x p e c t t h i s t o be t h e case s i n c e t h e b a t t e r y manufacturers have f o r so long placed s t r i n g e n t r i p p l e v o l t a g e c o n s t r a i n t s on t h e a p p l i c a t i o n of t h e i r p r o d u c t s . who s i m p l y wished t o l i m i t t h e hum i n t h e s u b s c r i b e r s ears. are a w a i t i n g w i t h great i n t e r e s t . However. it was d i s c e r n e d . S. O k a z a k i . d e f i n i t i v e . UPS u s e r s c o n t i n u e d t o be c o n f u s e d by f a i l u r e s of b a t t e r y s t r i n g s (Some i n o n l y 3% years) w i t h no known h i s t o r y of cycling. stems from t h e new and smaller b a t t e r y u s e r s who t e n d t o be u n f a m i l i a r w i t h t h e e f f e c t s of t h e UPS b a t t e r y d e s i g n changes t h a t t h e y have pressed i n t o existence. o r g r i d a l l o y s t h a t makes l i f t t r u c k c e l l s so r e s i s t a n t t o cycling. 381 . D. e v e n t h e small " v a l l e y s " i n t h e waveform c a n be depl e t e d by t h e heavy. a s k e d t h e IEEE t o convene a g r o u p t o s t u d y t h e problem. t e s t r e s u l t s on t h e effects of r i p p l e a l o n e and r i p p l e / c y c l e comb i n e d e x p e r i m e n t s on t h e UPS l i n e of c e l l s w i t h o u t f i b e r g l a s s r e t a i n e r s and w i t h a l l o f t h e o t h e r changes embodied in t h e c u r r e n t UPS l i n e o f c e l l s . t h e p u b l i c a t i o n of d e t a i l e d . h a l f wave charged b a t t e r y system.

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