ABB launches most compact silicon carbide battery charger for all rail applications

A new line of highly compact battery chargers combines high power density, high reliability, easy maintenance and full compatibility with all standard train battery voltages
Zurich, Switzerland, September 19, 2016 – At the trade show InnoTrans in Berlin, Germany, from September 20-23, 2016, ABB will launch a next generation battery charger that uses silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors to achieve a higher power density, not possible with conventional silicon-based power semiconductors, for use in all rail applications.

The compact battery charger, called BORDLINE® BC, complements ABB's large stand-alone auxiliary converter product family and is compatible with all standard train battery voltages. The battery charger employs ABB’s well proven modular platform design while incorporating SiC technology for the first time. SiC power semiconductors enable significantly reduced size, weight and cooling requirements and increased system efficiency, all critical factors for rail operators.

The battery charger is 10 times smaller and weighs 80 percent less than previous generations and efficiency is at least doubled with respect to commonly available products. With a footprint of 360 x 220 mm (half rack, three rack units high), the charger can be mounted in a standard 19-inch electronic rack or integrated into any other on-board equipment. The modular design offers different input and output voltages as well as scalable power through parallel operation.

An industry standard system microcontroller is used to minimize complexity and maximize long-term reliability. Integrated power factor correction minimizes the three-phase supply line disturbance. Operation from the three-phase 400/480 V workshop supply makes the device and train independent of the catenary during workshop maintenance.

“The new battery charger leverages all the benefits available from SiC and soft switching technologies to allow for a new performance level of power electronics in railway”, said Robert Itschner, Managing Director for ABB’s Power Conversion business unit. “We are proud to support the transportation sector with highly reliable and energy efficient products and solutions.”

The new high-speed trains from Stadler operated by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) on the new transalpine Gotthard base tunnel route between Zurich and Milan will also be equipped with this groundbreaking technology.

ABB has a long history of providing innovative and energy-efficient technologies to the rail sector, manufacturing and servicing all components and sub-systems in urban, intercity and high-speed networks for rail infrastructure and rolling stock. ABB also provides life cycle service support, including maintenance and retrofit for its large global installed base.

ABB (www.abb.com) is a leading global technology company in power and automation that enables utility, industry and transport & infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 135,000 people.