Fireplace is to blame for a tiny but sizeable amount of facts-middle outages which include a March 28 hearth that brought on significant damage to a data heart in France, and an assessment of global incidents highlights ongoing worries about the basic safety of lithium-ion batteries and their chance of combustion.

The use of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries in knowledge facilities is developing. Now generally used in uninterruptible power materials, they are envisioned to account for 38.5% of the information-middle battery sector by 2025, up from 15% in 2020, in accordance to consulting agency Frost & Sullivan.

Adoption is driven by Li-ion batteries’ scaled-down footprint, less complicated routine maintenance, and more time lifespan compared to guide-acid batteries. In addition, Li-ion power storage is a crucial element in renewable electrical power distribution, according to Uptime Institute, which provides resiliency solutions, tips on creating and working facts centers, and certification providers.

Nevertheless, Li-ion batteries current a increased hearth hazard than valve-controlled lead-acid batteries, Uptime warns.

The firm found in its annual evaluation of data-center dependability that 7% of outages have been prompted by fires. (Connectivity problems—which incorporate concerns with fiber, community software program, and configuration—are the biggest cause, liable for 29% of publicly described outages.)

“We come across, just about every time we do these surveys, hearth doesn’t go absent,” said Andy Lawrence, government director of research at Uptime, in a conference simply call to explore the firm’s new outage investigate.

Hearth security has often been a problem when it will come to batteries and thermal runaway, when heat builds up in a battery speedier than it can be dissipated. More than time, the sector has gotten a improved knowledge of what results in thermal runaway in lead-acid batteries and made clever charging circuits that increase detection and avert challenges, said Chris Brown, main technological officer at Uptime.

“We realized a good deal by means of the yrs with guide-acid batteries. Now, lithium ion comes on to the scene, and it’s a full diverse animal,” Brown reported.

Weigh the execs and negatives of deploying Li-ion batteries.

Li-ion batteries melt away hotter than lead-acid batteries, and if the battery-containment unit is destroyed, it does not respond very well with oxygen or h2o, Brown reported. “We’re getting that we do not totally, really realize all the failure modes of lithium-ion batteries at the moment, and the charging circuits are not capable to cope with them all,” he reported.

As with any battery, the moment a Li-ion battery commences to burn, it can be challenging to put out. “It’s heading to burn up till it expends all of its power, and just dumping h2o on it doesn’t really aid. It keeps it from spreading, perhaps, but it does not assistance,” Brown mentioned. “And the actuality that it burns significantly hotter than lead-acid batteries [means] it is heading to do a good deal far more destruction. It’s heading to burn off a good deal lengthier because it merchants a great deal much more vitality. And so that is the dilemma we’re seeing with lithium-ion almost everywhere.”

In reaction, regional authorities and regulatory companies are enacting demands linked to the storage of Li-ion batteries.

Brown endorses details-heart operators spend shut focus to facility style if Li-ion batteries are component of the prepare.

“If you are seeking at employing lithium-ion batteries, then certainly look at segregating them into their possess battery room,” he explained. A battery room should really have at least a pair of hearth-rated walls and ceilings, and operators really should look at using a foam fireplace-suppression system “because at minimum foam will smother the fireplace and assist to extinguish it, whereas water is just likely to preserve it from spreading.”

When questioned about the use of dispersed batteries, as opposed to a centralized UPS method with banking companies of batteries, Brown advises warning.

In the earlier, a conventional approach was to remove every style of flamable unit from the knowledge corridor by itself. Now, with dispersed batteries remaining put in in racks and rack-mounted UPSes, data-center operators have to weigh the electrical power-efficiency gains of dispersed Li-ion batteries towards the hearth threats, Brown says.

“The superior factor is that if it does capture hearth, these are significantly scaled-down batteries, so you might be in a position to comprise it to a several racks. On the other hand, there is going to be smoke, and in the conclusion, any racks in that vicinity are heading to suck some of that particles into them. And whilst it may perhaps not induce failures right now, that is likely to guide to premature failures in the upcoming.”

Persons will need to go into it with eyes extensive open, carry out a cost—benefit analysis, and do what is ideal for them, Brown claims. “But my recommendation is that you get batteries out of the facts hall. Which is the most reliable, most resilient detail you can do.”

The latest details-center fires blamed on Li-ion batteries

Lawrence referred to situations in which Li-ion batteries are suspected to be the trigger of facts-heart fires.

A single of the most notorious incidents occurred in early 2021, when the greatest cloud service provider based in Europe, OVHcloud, experienced a catastrophic fire that wrecked one particular of its data facilities in Strasbourg and harmed a neighboring just one.

A Maxnod details middle in France suffered a devasting hearth on March 28, 2023, and “we believe that it’s brought about by lithium-ion battery fire,” Lawrence said.

A lithium-ion batter hearth is also the described induce of a significant fire on Oct. 15, 2022, at a South Korea colocation facility owned by SK Group and operated by its C&C subsidiary. The fireplace at the SK C&C data middle reportedly started off in a battery room and affected the operations of  important South Korea tech businesses.

“Most of South Korea endured an eight-hour company disruption. CEOs resigned. Authorities investigations and numerous course-motion lawsuits had been initiated,” Uptime mentioned.

The SK C&C incident took tens of 1000’s of servers offline, which includes the IT infrastructure running South Korea’s most common messaging and one indication-on system, KakaoTalk, wrote Daniel Bizo, exploration director at Uptime, in a blog site post.

“The outage disrupted its built-in cellular payment procedure, transportation application, gaming platform and music service—all of which are made use of by tens of millions,” Bizo wrote. “The outage also affected domestic cloud big Naver (the ‘Google of South Korea’) which reported disruption to its online search, buying, media and blogging solutions.”

Kakao attributed the bring about of the fire to the Li-ion batteries deployed at the facility SK Team has not disclosed its formal findings.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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