There have been reservations about implementing Lithium-Ion (LI) batteries for data centers, however they have been the preferred energy source for most portable power needs, from cell phones to electric vehicles.  Although the electrolyte was deemed a safety hazard due to flammability and overall runaway thermal gain, many industries have reacted to ensure safety features, monitoring, and measures to aid in preventing future issues.  For the data center industry, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) have mostly come around to understand this is the case for stationary LI batteries as well, whether they are located in centralized UPS rooms, dedicated battery rooms, or spread out in the racks across data halls.   

There are also other batteries in the works, with early adopters being sought for some while testing and more continues for others.  There might be a lot available for data centers based on grid-level storage due to size, weight, cost, etc., while others are viable for lower loads such as rack-level to support even individual machines, while more could be considered even for one-time use while being environmentally friendly.    

Here is a list of battery technologies being actively researched for commercial applications:  

  1. Aluminum-air 
  2. Aluminum-sulfur 
  3. Glass batteries  
  4. Graphene Aluminum-ion 
  5. Iron-air 
  6. Lead-acid 
  7. Lithium-ion 
  8. Lithium-sulfur 
  9. Nickel-iron 
  10. Nickel-metal hydride 
  11. Potassium-ion 
  12. Sodium-ion 
  13. Sodium-nickel chloride 
  14. Solid-state lithium-ion 
  15. Zinc-bromide  

The U.S. government has pushed the development of battery technologies toward electric vehicles, but there have been beneficiaries in other industries such as data centers from the facility level all the way down to the server.   

The battery technology improvements include fast charging sodium as well as new cathodes that don’t use cobalt and nickel.  Along with this the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency has goals for improving lower temperature batteries, longer endurance through repeated use, and lower cost per kWh of storage while maintaining or improving safety.   As has been discovered, lithium is not the only alkali metal that can be used for high performance batteries; sodium also works and as an element is easier to procure.  Experiments with other elements and alloys are being conducted to see which will resist expansion and contraction, which will allow the capacity to be maintained better over time.

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