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Startup ZincFive makes old battery technology new again

News Analysis
Mar 06, 20182 mins
Data Center

ZincFive says the nickel-zinc-style batteries in its new UPS are more power efficient, less hazardous to the environment and physically safer.

zincfive nickel zinc batteries
Credit: ZincFive

A startup called ZincFive is set to launch a modular uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for data center computers using the venerable nickel-zinc technology, which it claims is more efficient than lithium-ion.

Nickel-zinc batteries were invented by Thomas Edison in 1901 but fell out of favor to newer designs due to their limitations, such as a low number of charge cycles and their inability to hold a charge for long.

On the plus side, the batteries could hold a stronger charge and didn’t use toxic metals like other batteries that make them difficult to recycle. And they are not flammable, something lithium-ion batteries certainly can’t claim.

ZincFive says it has solved the battery charge problems and that its new ZincFive UPS Model 48-3-208 system, set to be unveiled at Data Center World Global conference in San Antonio next week, are more power efficient and safer to use.

The company set up shop just two years ago to commercialize nickel-zinc battery technology for a variety of uses — from cars to data centers. The company has successfully filed 74 patents and has another 29 pending.

ZincFive says batteries in UPS Model 48-3-208 are safer, maintenance-free

ZincFive claims its batteries are less hazardous than lead-acid batteries typically used in a UPS and that they are physically safer than lithium-ion. They are guaranteed for the life of the UPS, require no periodic maintenance, and support a wide operating temperature range.

zincfive ups model 48 3 208 ZincFive

The ZincFive UPS Model 48-3-208 is a modular, three-phase system with capacity upgrades in 6kW increments up to a total of 48kW per cabinet. Customers can place precise levels of power protection where and when they need it, the company claims.

Because the battery is guaranteed for the life of the UPS, ZincFive’s nickel-zinc batteries eliminate the typical three battery replacement cycles for lead-acid battery-based UPS systems. The power inverters can be replaced without requiring special tools. Capacity upgrades are as simple as adding new inverter modules to the system. And since it uses 60-volt power, it is considered “touch safe,” meaning you won’t get fried if you put your hand in the wrong spot.

Last January, ZincFive announced new financing to fund further development and that it had shipped test equipment to a “major company” data center in December.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.