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ABB develops and demonstrates “flash charging” system for electric buses

Close-up of the charging mechanism on the demo TOSA bus. Source: ABB. Click to enlarge.

ABB has developed and is demonstrating a high-capacity “flash charging” system for electric buses. The system enables onboard batteries to be charged in 15 seconds with a 400 kW boost at selected stops using a roof-mounted system (“Flash station”). The flash stations are connected to the 50kVA electricity network and also have a 3kWh storage unit (supercap) for smoothing peaks in consumption.

At the end of the bus line (“Terminus station”) a 3 to 4 minute boost at 200 kW tops up the batteries. At the depot station, the bus plugs into a multi-bus supply station connected to the 50 kVA network.

ABB announced at the 60th congress of the International Association of Public Transport (UTIP) in Geneva that it is working together with the city’s public transport company (TGP), the Office for the Promotion of Industries and Technologies (OPI) and the Geneva power utility SIG on the TOSA (Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation) electric bus system pilot project using the new flash charging system.

In concept, the system is similar to the Oprid Bůsbaar ultra-fast bus charging stations used to recharge the Volvo plug-in hybrid buses undergoing trials by Göteborg Energi in Sweden (earlier post)—i.e., a very high power, very rapid overhead recharge using a terminus station and not reliant upon overhead lines. The buses in the Göteborg trials use a 300 kW charger.

The new ABB boost charging technology will be deployed for the first time on a large capacity electric bus (TOSA), carrying as many as 135 passengers. The system uses a laser-controlled moving arm, which connects to an overhead receptacle for charging at bus shelters.

The flash-charging technology and the onboard traction equipment used in this project were developed by ABB and optimized for high-frequency bus routes in key urban areas, carrying large numbers of passengers at peak times.



I like this concept in principle. Bus routes have predictable ranges, weather variation ranges, passenger flows and high petrol costs to compare to for ROI.

Ordinarily, the cost of batteries for a full day of driving would be prohibitive, but by having frequent high-capacity rapid charging stations, the expense of batteries drops considerably.

The questions this leaves me with are, 1) What kind of battery chemistry will they use to get tens of thousands of recharge cycles? 2)How many months until they've recouped investment and get more than 100% ROI?


Another thing I like is that the recharging stations can have their costs amortized across potentially dozens of buses per route. That should help ROI.

David Snydacker

These are either LTO/LFP (Li4Ti5O12/LiFePO4) Li-ion cells or ultracaps in combination with Li-ion cells.


Assuming viable economics & 100% xfer, "The system enables onboard batteries to be charged in 15 seconds with a 400 kW boost" would be 1.67 kWh and how many bus mile(s)?

Sorta negates battery switching.

Soon we can connect capacitors to lightening rods - and get more than a fire.


Considering that they say it can get a full charge in 3-4 minutes at the end of a route, they would either have to be using over 4,000kg of supercaps charged at 400kw for about 27kWh....OR...as David Snydacker points out, more likely a combo of a couple of ~2kWh of supercaps plus some type of battery for probably another 20-30kWh. I would agree that it's probably something like Li4Ti5O12 which would give lots of cycle life and relatively rapid charging.


This may come as a shock to many posters but this is just the beginning of future 200 KW and 400+ KW charging units.

Feeding one or two dozen of those co-located chargers may need a 10,000 KW sub-station but that will not be a real challenge. That's is what each large condo building in our area is already equipped with.


But Harvey, this is all impossible as we've heard repeatedly from people on GCC that level 3 charging of even 100kW wasn't realistic or possible! LOL

I'm still waiting for all those people to get on here now and explain how all this is possible. We've been listening to their mouths for years now...time for them to say three simple words: "I was wrong"


There's lots of room on the roof of a bus for the equipment needed for this kind of charging. A car OTOH, not so much.


1.67kwh probably moves a bus a mile or so.
IOW around as far as the next bus stop with a charger.



Charging a few buses is much different than charging thousands of cars at 100 kW+ levels. There are 5000 VAC services that go through transformers to power housing and business complexes. That does not mean we want to double the city power consumption, nor that we could.

The discussion had to do with MANY cars quick charging continuously all day while business and home air conditioners demand even more electricity M-F 9-5 every day.

EPRI has said we can handle people charging slowly over 5-6 hours each night. They did NOT say we could handle quick charging 10 million cars during the day.


SJC....let's not forget that a very high re-charge percentage (80+%) will take place at home during low consumption night hours with Level I and Level II chargers.

The other 20% will take place throughout the nation from 06:h to 20:h. Producing e-energy for 10 M units progressively increasing to 200+ M units over a 20 year time frame IS NOT a real challenge.

Shopping Centers, cinemas, restaurants, rest stops, parking lots, schools, colleges, universities, work places etc will soon be equipped with Level II and Level III charging facilities.

Of course, city buses and taxis will have their own adapted charging facilities.


EPRI is a source authority in the U.S. for the power grid. They say we can charge a million cars at night, so "let's not forget" was never forgotten.

The EPRI did NOT say we can quick charge a million cars M-F 9am to 5 pm across the U.S. If you have any information that shows they said we can I would like to see that.

"Producing e-energy for 10 M units progressively increasing to 200+ M units over a 20 year time frame IS NOT a real challenge."

I see NO substantiation for that claim.


Let's not forget that 'more energy consumption = more higher profits'. With clear high profits as drivers, the SKY is the limit. Are we talking about USA here? If we are, please don't doubt that any increase in demands will be met with same increase in production or with electricity and oil imported from Canada.

Look at what happened to Oil consumption versus Oil supply. Even when USA consumed almost 3 times the local production, Oil was never in short demand.

Canada could fill part of USA's electricity and oil demands for a long time, if the price is right.


Average EVs will only consume 8 to 10 kWh/day. Most homes can save that much with high efficiency variable speed Heat Pumps, 200+lm/Watt LED lights, improved appliances, improved wall-ceiling insulation, better windows and doors etc.

Secondly, most overnight charging (up to 80% of total) will be done with excess night time electricity. Increased night time loads will increase suppliers profits and should reduce e-energy price?


Woulda, coulda, shoulda...if we have ham we could have ham and eggs...if we had eggs.

Cars can consume as much energy as homes in a two income family. Now you want to double electricity production in the U.S.? 600 coal fired power plants become 1200, 4000 natural gas turbines become 8000?

Oh that's right, we are all suppose to damn lots of river and have hydroelectric, or put up more wind turbines and solar panels.

Even IF we got with fast breeder reactors and thorium, we would have to transmit the power. Ask Ohio if they can double the transmission on their grid, they caused a regional problem a few years ago.

There is optimism and then there is unsubstantiated "happy talk". If we run on unsupported happy talk, we are likely to head in the wrong direction and be stuck in a blind alley.

We are talking about quick charging a few buses here with super cap buffers, not millions of car quick charging during the day. Let's not get carried away with happy talk that can not be supported by facts.



Yes, but most EVs don't need to be rapid charged. What percentage of cars actually do long distance driving in a day?
It will be many years before we even have 10 million EVs on the road. And it will be decades before we have 10 million of them doing long trips in a single day.

I'm looking for a rapid charging station able to charge 6-8 cars at a time, and that would take about as much power as running an average Walmart. If you look at Tesla's announcement, they're planning it out well. For example, in the Southeast, a lot of people travel from Atlanta down to the Florida pan handle. They've got a super charger lined up for Montgomery, that would allow you to start in Atlanta with a full charge and stop once in Montgomery and then make it all the way to Panama City or Destin on the Florida Coast. I have a house down there and so does my brother and many of my friends and family.
People in this area who can afford "summer homes" often buy something down in that area. Those are also the people who can afford a Model S. Seems like a good match to me.

They are also planning one in Macon, Ga. which would allow you to start in Atlanta and make it all the way to to their Lake City charger at the junction of I-75 and I-10. From there you could make it to Tampa, or Jacksonville or Orlando.


If you're charging at night, you're not adding to peak loads on the grid and little or no new transmission capacity is required.

Large-scale RE requires a lot of new transmission capacity because of regional differences in supply, but nuclear can be (and ought to be) sited near loads.


Many electricity sources are not 'non-renewable ' Coal, Oil' or 'NG'. Major electricity sources like Hydro, Wind, Solar, Waves, Geothermal etc are easy pick and will be around for as long as we are. à

Combined Hydro-Wind-Solar can produce all the clean energy required for 20+ people for a few more billion years.

If we don't want to exploit those energy sources, we could hire people from A.... to do it for us?


I hope there are lots of EVs and lots of fast charging stations, I am pointing out a limit. Trying to compare a few buses with many cars is not valid. Saying that they can charge a few buses so those worried about all the cars on the grid are wrong IS wrong.

Bob Wallace

Any new nuclear plants, were we to build any, would require some new transmission.

Rooftop solar requires no new transmission.

Wind requires some new transmission, but even with the cost of transmission added in wind is still less expensive than new nuclear.

A study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory current off-peak capacity and transmission infrastructure could charge 75% of the US car and light truck fleet were they all electric.

There may be some need to upsize neighborhood transformers if several EVs start charging at night. Presently transformers are sized based on the expectation that they will be allowed to cool down at night.

We'll likely bring new wind on line much faster than EVs start using off-peak electricity.


Come on SJC....in every major city, 1000+ subway e-cars and suburban e-trains run full time without causing electrical overloads; 1000+ high rise buildings are equipped with 10,000 + kW connection to the grid without a hitch; 1000+ Walmart type large area mega stores using as much energy as a large apartment building also operate without a hitch.

Let's not see obstacles to large quick charge stations similarly equipped with 10,000+ KW grid connection because there are NOT.

Let's not see major obstacles with one slower charging station (or two) per house-home for over night charging because there are NOT.

The world can produce 2x, 3x, 4x and more electricity whenever it is required.


If someone wants to install a large quick charge station, they need approval, they will not be allowed to brown out the whole grid. It is good to project how much home charging at night versus quick charging during the day and how many EVs will be out there.

At the present time, it looks like we will not have millions of EVs out there any time soon. I advocate that we look at it as a total systems approach rather than say we will all be driving EVs real soon, so "oh happy day".



Nobody says it's a free lunch. But the point is that these charging stations are no different than adding a mega-Walmart or something similar. So why would we expect this to be a big issue to solve? There is plenty of time to plan and roll out the infrastructure for EVs.

I don't think we're really arguing that much, I'm just trying to stop people from saying the sky is falling on some front or other with EVs every time the wind blows.


Mainland USA is only about 2000 miles by 2000 miles (at best) It would take only (20 x 20 = 400) quick charge stations, installed at major road intersections or every 100 miles or so for basic nationwide coverage.

First generation stations could be equipped with 5,000 KW grid connection, good enough for 12+ simultaneous 400 KW chargers.

The basic first generation charging network would use 5,000 x 400 = 2,000,000 KW. MAX. In practice it would be less than 50% of the MAX.

That may look like a lot of e-energy, but it is not.

A single existing large Hydro plant (4,200,000+ KW) could supply about 2X to 4x as much and meet requirements for second and third generations charging networks.


Is it fair to say that 15,000+ mega-Walmart/Target etc and 15,000+ high rise apartment buildings can be and are supplied with 10,000 KW connections but the same number of Quick Charge facilities could not be done?

Of course it can be done, specially if done progressively over 10 to 20 years. Production facilities and the distribution grid will be adapted as required.

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