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ABB launching SiC-based charger for rail applications; 10x smaller, 80% lighter than previous generations

At the InnoTrans trade show in Berlin this week, ABB will launch a next-generation battery charger based on silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors for use in all rail applications. The new compact battery charger of the series, BORD­LINE BC, complements ABB’s large stand-alone auxiliary converter product family and is compatible with all standard train battery voltages.

The BORDLINE BC battery charger employs ABB’s well-proven modular platform design while incorporating SiC technology for the first time.

SiC power semiconductor technology offers significant advantages over traditional silicon-based devices in power applications requiring low losses, high frequency switching and/or high temperature environments. For example, the dielectric strength voltage of SiC is about 10 times greater than that of Si. Low losses are critical to the performance ratio and SiC technology can reduce the power loss by up to a factor of five. High frequency switching can be increased from the conventional technology level with a range of 10 to 20 kHz by a factor of 10.

SiC technology translates into dramatically reduced size, weight, and cooling requirements, and increased system efficiency, all critical factors for rail operators.

With a footprint of 360 x 220 mm—the size of a shoebox—it is about 10 times smaller and has a weight reduction of 80% compared to previous generations. The new device excels with a high power density of 1 kW per liter and per kg, an improvement from previous generations by a factor of 15.

Modern trains have varying requirements for power electronics components. In local transportation, such as trams, the components need to be as lightweight as possible to improve overall system energy efficiency. The need in long-distance and high-speed transportation is for compact and powerful, yet reliable devices.

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


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