It is a common practice to have UPS backed up by batteries in data centers to avoid server crashes in case of a power failure. Though there are eco- friendly alternatives, most of them are not cost effective. As a result, data centers still use lead- acid batteries to back their UPS systems. However, there are several issues at hand while designing a UPS room.
In case of a power failure, the ups supplies power to the data center. Now if during that time the power comes back, the process is interrupted. Usually when this happens, a very small amount of hydrogen is evolved. But if this process occurs repeatedly, the evolution rate of the hydrogen gas gets accelerated.
The Hydrogen concentrations of 4% to 75% by volume in air are potentially explosive. This is why battery manufactures are required to provide the gassing rate, charging voltage etc of their products before installation. (IEEE) provides the formulae to calculate the hydrogen evolution in batteries based on which the Ups rooms can be designed.
To reduce/prevent the risks, state of the art ventilation systems are crucial requirements for data center. Experts recommend a minimum of two air changes per hour to remove the gases generated by the batteries during charging or caused by equipment malfunction.
It is also sensible to install some kind of safety device –a real time monitoring system to detect the level of hydrogen in the room to prevent gas leak accidents. Also make sure that the device fulfils the IEEE standards, along with National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) Article 64 & Uniform Building Code (UBC) Sect 6400.
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