Safe passages

Nickel-zinc batteries keep the traffic flowing

December 04, 2014



The reliability of signalized intersections is a crucial component of urban infrastructures. When electrical power to an intersection fails, often due to bad weather or traffic accidents, it can cause major gridlock and safety concerns as responses to fire, police and health emergencies are delayed or prevented.

While some city agencies and departments of transportation do not carry any form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or Battery Backup System (BBS), those that do often rely on lead-acid systems to ensure traffic intersections are able to function 24/7. However the cost of installing a UPS/BBS at all traffic intersections is prohibitive for many cities.

A new solution, developed and manufactured by Blue Earth Energy Power Solutions (Blue Earth EPS), based in Wilsonville, Oregon, USA, brings the twin advantages of being extremely flexible in terms of installation and maintenance while avoiding the use of lead-acid batteries that are disliked because of the care required in their handling, maintenance and end-of-life management.

Blue Earth EPS’ intelligent UltraPower-Stealth Battery Backup System (UPStealth™) is accompanied by PowerGenix’ high-powered and energy efficient nickel-zinc (Ni-Zn) chemistry, which solves the problem of utility power failure at traffic intersections. The UPStealth can be installed in various configurations. The intelligent battery can bend around corners and fit into spaces that cannot be accessed by traditional battery backup systems and eliminates the need for additional piggyback cabinets.

Compared to lead-acid batteries that the UPStealth replaces, cost of ownership is lower, less maintenance is required (‘plug and play’) and the nickel-zinc batteries have a longer life.

In the US alone, the market potential is estimated at approximately $453 million excluding applications such as railroad crossings, school warning signals and other intelligent transport applications. And globally, the potential seems unbounded for nickel-zinc batteries to help keep the traffic flowing.

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