AKASOL has been involved in the development of traction batteries for trains for a decade. In the cooperation with the French railway technology specialist Alstom, this know-how has been particularly valuable: AKASOL's high-performance battery systems form the heart of the drive train of the innovative, globally unique Coradia iLint hydrogen train. Since September 2018, the zero-emission train driven by electric motors has been in test operation in northern Germany.

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the first emission-free alternative for diesel trains on lines that can‘t be electrified at all or only with immense effort. Presented in 2016 at the InnoTrans transport trade fair in Berlin, the iLint celebrated its maiden voyage at 80 kilometers per hour on an Alstom test track in Salzgitter just one year later in March 2017. On 11 July, the train finally received approval from the Federal Railway Authority for passenger traffic on the public network.

Franco-German cooperation

The Coradia iLint was designed at Alstom's competence centre for regional trains in Salzgitter (Germany) and Alstom's competence centre for traction systems in Tarbes (France). The project benefits from the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Mobility: The development of the Coradia iLint was financed by the Federal Government within the framework of the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP).

“Traction batteries for trains are demanding and must deliver the power to accelerate the train and store the braking energy - and perform these tasks safely, reliably and for many years to come." Felix von Borck, Head of Sales Rail

Since September 2018, the first train in the Weser-Ems region has been in daily test operation, bringing passengers safely and almost silently from Cuxhaven via Bremerhaven and Bremervörde to Buxtehude. By 2021, the state of Lower Saxony plans to have 14 hydrogen trains on the rails.

Fuel cells and battery systems combined

In its hydrogen train, Alstom combines powerful and robust Li-Ion battery systems with hydrogen fuel cells. The 3P AKASYSTEM 18 AKM battery systems installed in the underbody form the heart of the powertrain, as the fuel cells are particularly efficient when they are operated steadily.

The Coradia iLint refuels gaseous hydrogen from renewable energies, and this is used to continuously generate electrical energy in the fuel cells. This electrical energy is first temporarily stored in the AKASOL battery systems - and then released as required by the train. One refuelling from the mobile hydrogen filling station in Bremervörde is enough for a range of 1,000 kilometres.

The cooperation between Alstom and AKASOL is scheduled to last for several decades. In addition to supplying up to 500 battery systems for 250 hydrogen trains in the next 15 years, AKASOL will also ensure the ongoing operation of the trains - and will replace the battery systems if necessary.

The liquid-cooled, high-performance battery systems that AKASOL has developed since 2013 according to Alstom's requirements not only provide the necessary drive power, but also store the braking energy. This requires a battery system power of 111 kilowatt hours at a nominal voltage of 800 volts.

The average output is 221 kilowatts - at peak times the train even needs 450 kilowatts for a maximum of 40 seconds. In addition, on-board systems such as lighting and air conditioning are also supplied with electrical energy. The battery systems are designed for railway operation and comply with the relevant regulations IEC 61508 and EN 12663. The modular subsystems are tested in accordance with EN 61373, EN 50121, EN 60529 and UN 38.3.

Picutres: Copyright ALSTOM S.A.

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