Hybrid systems in rail transport
To make the drive systems in railway vehicles more flexible and environmentally friendly, manufacturers have devoted more time to hybrid drives in recent years. A hybrid system combines the electric power from an overhead line with a battery system. This allows the train to travel on sections of the track without electrification, while also ensuring that rail traffic is completely emission-free and energy-efficient, with or without an overhead line. Another solution is to combine diesel traction with a battery system, where the diesel engine power is replaced with battery power. This achieves a marked reduction both in diesel consumption and in emissions.
Since the proportion of non-electrified track is still high (approx. 60 % in Germany, 65 % in the UK), battery systems represent an extremely cost-effective alternative to railway electrification.
HOPPECKE lithium-ion battery systems for rail applications
In recent years HOPPECKE has invested considerable resources in the development of lithium-ion battery systems that are suitable for rail applications. The formation of INTILION GmbH on 01 April 2019 represented another milestone in this area. HOPPECKE's rail division has already gained experience with hybrid drive systems together with a French manufacturer, as the companies have supplied NiCd drive batteries for shunting locomotives. These vehicles are used where emission-free operation is required.
The expertise obtained in this area has been transferred successfully to INTILION and combined with the know-how in the field of lithium-ion battery technology. The development of lithium-ion battery systems has now passed the prototype stage. And INTILION is receiving orders for railway systems for millions of euros. In addition to orders for systems in shunters, this summer INTILION will also
be delivering battery systems for diesel and electric regional trains to Germany, the UK and USA.
Safe lithium-ion battery systems
Since these railway vehicles are mostly ones that carry passengers, the safety requirements are very high – as are requirements relating to availability and service life. This applies above all to vehicles operated in tunnels, as the possible escape routes are limited. That is why HOPPECKE already factored in protection against fire and smoke gas at the system development stage. Today it is this protection that makes our products stand out from the competition. Together with the battery management system (BMS) and the redundant-safety function (SIL2), HOPPECKE commands a set of components that can be customised for every railway battery system and guarantees maximum safety. HOPPECKE provides its customers with hands-on support, from designing the vehicle's drive train to validation by national regulatory authorities. Currently HOPPECKE battery systems are going through the approval process in Germany, the UK and USA, where HOPPECKE is collaborating with its customers on projects and the further development of drive systems.