Case Study

Case Study #106 | Thermal Runaway

Apr 16, 2016 | Battery, Case Study

Product VRLA Batteries
Application Medical Facility Data Center
Synopsis Some maintenance-free, rechargeable sealed Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) UPS batteries can experience Thermal Runaway conditions. Higher ambient temperatures, high charge/re-charge current, age, overuse, shorted (bad) internal cells, loose connections and poor design can be factors. Thermal condition of a battery is also dependent on its environment. If the battery’s temperature is higher than the ambient temperature, it will normally lose heat through conduction, convection and radiation. However, if the ambient temperature is higher, the battery will gain heat from its surroundings causing the thermal management system to work harder to keep the resulting heat under control. A single cell may work very well at room temperature on its own, but when it is surrounded by other batteries or modules generating heat, this will cause the temperature to rise, which will lead to thermal runaway and possible a very destructive situation:
Resolution Replace the batteries and have regular preventive maintenance performed by a reputable UPS maintenance company.
Root Cause This was an older UPS that did not have regular preventive maintenance performed. Proper cooling, airflow, and maintenance will reduce exposure of thermal runaway conditions.

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