Remember the “Little Box Challenge”?
Sponsored by industry and IEEE, the Challenge spurred power and system design engineers to explore new and emerging wide-bandgap semiconductor materials like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) to shrink the size, and boost the output of power inverters.
Engineering teams from around the world rose to the challenge; one walked away with $1 million in prize money.
From Europe this week comes word of another silicon carbide breakthrough – this one a battery charger for electric-powered trains that shrinks the charger unit size tenfold, and cuts weight by 80%. The unit was announced by ABB of Zurich, Switzerland at the InnoTrans trade show in Berlin, Germany, as reported by SemiconductorToday.
SiC power semiconductor technology enables a power density and performance not possible with conventional silicon power semiconductors. Mastering SiC technology translates into dramatically reduced size, weight, and cooling requirements, and increased system efficiency, all critical factors for rail operators, according to ABB.
ABB Launchs SiC-Based Next-Generation Battery Charger at InnoTrans Trade Show
At the InnoTrans trade show in Berlin, Germany (20-23 September), ABB of Zurich, Switzerland launched a next-generation battery charger based on silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors for use in all rail applications.
Train batteries provide power for critical systems such as control and lighting. The new compact battery charger in the BORDLINE BC series complements ABB\’s large standalone auxiliary converter product family and is compatible with all standard train battery voltages. With a footprint of 360mm x 220mm (the size of a shoebox) it is about 10 times smaller and 80% lighter compared to previous generations. The new device also has a high power density of 1kW 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 BORDLINE BC battery charger employs ABB\’s proven modular platform design while incorporating SiC technology for the first time. Due to its conductivity characteristics, SiC power semiconductor technology enables a power density and performance not possible with conventional silicon power semiconductors. Mastering SiC technology translates into dramatically reduced size, weight and cooling requirements, and increased system efficiency, all critical factors for rail operators, says ABB.