Open frame UPS for industrial designs

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By Nick Flaherty

Bicker Elektronik in Germany has developed an intelligent 24V DC emergency power supply for integration into industrial systems.

The UPSI-2412 is a combination of LiFePO4 or Supercap energy storage devices to bridge power failures and brownouts and ensure an uninterruptible 24 VDC supply.

The DC UPS board UPSI-2412 is designed for flexible open-frame system integration in customer-specific applications and enables individual emergency power supply solutions for long-term use in the fields of Industry 4.0, medical and laboratory technology, renewable energy, control and regulation technology, safety, vision and inspection systems.

In normal operation, the UPSI-2412 forwards the DC input voltage directly to the output, charges the connected energy storage device in parallel and monitors all relevant parameters, currents and voltages. In the event of a voltage drop or power failure, a MOSFET disconnects the input within a few microseconds and the connected load is supplied without interruption from the energy storage device and the UPSI-2412 provides a constantly regulated DC output voltage.

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The intelligent power sharing function is implemented at the DC input to avoid the upstream AC-DC power supply being over-dimensioned, but still ensuring the input power is kept constant and distributed accordingly to the load and the charger. This means that when there is a low load at the output, more energy flows into the charger and vice versa.

To ensure that the UPSI-2412 can be used flexibly with different storage technologies, three charging processes with individual adjustment of the end-of-charge voltage and a charging current of up to 4.5A are implemented: Constant Current, Constant Voltage and Constant Power. The integrated microcontroller (µC) recognizes the type and data of the Bicker energy pack, so that the charging and discharging parameters can be individually adjusted.

Bicker offers maintenance-free supercaps as highly efficient and particularly long-lasting energy storage devices with more than 500,000 charge and discharge cycles. The EDLC supercaps based on electrophysical principles and are charged and ready for use within a very short time. Under comparable operating conditions, Supercap energy storage devices have a service life that is up to ten times longer than classic lead-acid batteries. Energy packs with Supercapacitors also impress with their high current carrying capacity, power density and reliability.

Lithium iron phosphate technology with a high energy density is ideal for longer backup times. The high-performance battery packs of the BP-LFP series are a particularly stable battery chemistry, high cycle stability and a long service life of at least 10 years for safety applications. The integrated battery management system (BMS) with cell balancing ensures that all cells are charged evenly so that the full capacity of the battery pack can be used over the long term. In contrast to lead-acid batteries, high-quality lithium iron phosphate cells have an approx. 15-20x longer service life and cycle stability. In addition, 100% of the full nominal capacity of the LiFePO4 battery pack can be drawn continuously. Conventional lead-acid batteries have significant limitations in terms of DoD (Depth of Discharge) and number of cycles. When calculating the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) over the entire period of use of at least 10 years, there is a clear cost advantage compared to lead-acid batteries, especially since the effort for maintenance and battery replacement for LiFePO4 is eliminated during this period.

For mobile applications, the UPSI-2412 has the option of starting the supplied application from the battery with a maximum load current of 7A without a mains-side power supply being available or connected. Bicker recommends the LiFePO4 high-performance battery pack BP-LFP-2725 is used for this. 
The UPSI-2412 also has an integrated USB interface for connection to an IPC system and is recognized directly by the operating system as a UPS without additional drivers or software installation.

Next: UPS configuration tool

The free ‘UPS Gen2 Configuration’ software is available for download and is used to setup and parameterize the DC UPS system as well as for real-time monitoring. The UPS and battery status displays include all relevant voltages, currents as well as battery temperature, state of charge (SOC), runtimes and cycles. The pre-programmable parameters include load sensor (mA), shutdown delay, maximum backup time, minimum load capacity before system start, ignition timer and restart delay. Self-sufficient operation is then possible with the set values.

A new ‘Shut Down OS in’ parameter can be used to set the time until the computer system is shut down and switched off in the event of a power failure. The OS can also shut down depending on the State Of Charge of the energy storage device (“Shut Down OS at SOC”) to define a specific time for the controlled shutdown in UPS backup mode.

In the event of a power failure, the DC UPS signals the failure of the supply voltage via the integrated interface, so that a controlled shutdown of the computer system is initiated and valuable data is saved. The integrated reboot function of the DC UPS automatically initiates the restart of the supplied IPC after the supply voltage has returned, without the need for costly on-site intervention by a service employee, e.g. with completely self-sufficient computer systems in inaccessible locations.

A 2-pin relay connection in the event of a power failure can be defined using the ‘UPSGen2 Configuration’ software: ‘Normally Open’, ‘Normally Closed’ or ‘Shutdown Pulse’. When the relay closes, the resistance between the two pins is ⁓ 0 Ohm, otherwise the contacts are ‘Open Load’.

In the ‘UPSGen2 Configuration’ software, the minimum output current to the DC load in UPS battery operation can be set and monitored via the load sensor. If the load at the output falls below this limit value, the energy storage device is automatically disconnected from the charging and control unit after 10 seconds, so that no unnecessary and gradual discharge of the energy storage device can take place. The DC UPS can also be switched off in a defined manner.

Bicker provides a three-year warranty on the DC-UPS UPSI-2412, as well as a long-term availability of at least 5 years.

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