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Highly efficient, fast-charging module for electric vehicles

With the BELATRON modular series, BENNING provides equipment suppliers and operators of EV charging stations with high-performance charging modules and systems which combine the highest level of system availability with maximum cost-efficiency.

Right: 19” module (87.5 kW)

The German automotive industry is going to invest around 40 billion euros in e-mobility by 2020. This should make the use of electric vehicles a key feature of a smart, resource-friendly urban lifestyle.

BELATRON modular system cabinet 350 kW / 875 VDC
BELATRON modular system cabinet 350 kW / 875 VDC

There is a clear need for optimisation, especially with regard to the charging infrastructure. According to a recent study, about 25 percent of all potential car buyers are concerned about not finding an e-charging station in the vicinity if needed.

In particular, the idea of experiencing this on the way to work or on holiday, was unwelcome. Consequently, the installation of fast-charging systems will be the high-priority task in the near future.
The challenge is to design the interfaces between electric vehicles, charging devices and power grids as open systems. This would enable a wide variety of companies to collaborate and jointly develop product modules for a common platform.
A key component in this context is the newly developed BENNING HPC rapid charging module the BELATRON modular. POWER news took the opportunity to discuss this with Reinhard Erfen, Key Account Manager of the E-Mobility Division at BENNING.

PN: Mr. Erfen, could you briefly explain what makes the new BELATRON modular fast charging module stand out?

Erfen: With pleasure. BELATRON modular is a highly efficient modular system for effective installation of DC charging stations. The three-phase fast charging modules can be flexibly combined and are suitable for charging a wide variety of vehicle types such as cars, trucks and buses. With the different configurable power ratings (e. g. 150 kW or 350 kW), vehicles with both 400 V and 800 V batteries can be charged efficiently.

PN: Before going into more detail, can you please explain to our readers what are the most important benefits of this new range of devices?

Erfen: Each 87.5 kW module has freely configurable interfaces and is therefore an ideal building block for the installation of charging systems at fuel stations and motorway service areas, for example. The modules are therefore aimed, in particular, at companies that plan and install the charging infrastructures. By opting for charging modules of the BELATRON modular series, they will provide future e-filling station operators with tailored configurations that combine maximum system availability with extremely efficient operation.

Block diagram: combination of rectifier and DC/DC converter in the 19” module (87.5 kW) of the BELATRON modular

PN: With this equipment range, BENNING is entering a completely new market segment. That’s a major risk for the company and its potential customers, isn’t it?

Erfen: We do not see it that way. For more than 80 years, BENNING products have improved safety and efficiency and contributed to better utilisation of energy resources. Ever since it began, the company has been producing smart solutions for the conversion of electricity into multi-purpose or storable energy. Today, BENNING is known worldwide as a ‘quality leader’ for reliable smart-efficiency AC and DC power supplies for the telecommunications, power plant technology, medical and IT industries.
And it’s not really a new market segment for us. BENNING has been supplying chargers for forklift trucks for almost 50 years now. The name BELATRON is synonymous with high-quality, robust and highly efficient charging systems for lead and lithium batteries.

The block diagrams demonstrate how to use the 87.5 kW modules as a basis to configure different DC charging systems

The characteristics show the linear change of the charging power in relation to the battery charging voltage at different charging currents of 100 A, 200 A and 400 A.

PN: At whom is the newly developed product aimed?

Erfen: With the BELATRON modular series, BENNING is providing equipment suppliers and operators of EV charging stations with high-performance charging modules and systems that are specifically tailored to the extremely high requirements of fast-charging operation. In addition to the cost-efficiency, these also offer maximum operational safety, reliability, energy efficiency as well as easily configurable User Space at the installation site.

PN: You have mentioned cost-efficiency as a key feature. This becomes evident when you consider the system total operating costs. These include, among other things, the investment costs, the energy costs as well as maintenance and service costs. How does the BELATRON modular meet these requirements exactly?

Erfen: Each 19” power module is stand-alone and highly efficient. Due to the highest module efficiency of 97% the ongoing operating costs are minimised without compromising the voltage quality. The power module components consist of a redundant control unit, a three-phase rectifier and a DC/DC converter. Rectifiers and converters are implemented in a 3-level IGBT technology, ensuring low power input distortion and active power factor correction at all times. While the harmonic content of the mains power consumption (THDi) is 3%, the input current is sinusoidal with cos φ of nearly 1.

PN: The module is offered not only as a stand-alone unit, but also as an integrated system in a cabinet housing. To what extent does the system design you develop affect the costs of rented areas or new buildings where the relevant equipment is installed?

Erfen: The charging system has an output of approx. 729 kW/m². Since the air flow is discharged through the system roof, its installation is extremely space-saving. The systems can be easily placed ‘back to back’ on a wall or in a corner.Optionally, a rear ventilation system can be integrated. These possibilities ensure a high degree of flexibility and save a lot of space, which in turn leads to a reduction in costs in terms of rented areas or building investments, for example. 

PN: The goal is to achieve a fast charging time of approx. 20 minutes for electric vehicles, which is still relatively long as compared to the refuelling process with conventional fuels. It is the top-priority task of the operator of an EV filling station to ensure that all EV charging stations are available for operation on a permanent basis. How do you meet this requirement for maximum product availability?

Erfen: In the new BELATRON modular series, BENNING combines the advantages of maximum reliability and shortest repair times (MTTR) in a product that meets the highest requirements regarding the availability and quality of a safe and reliable power supply of EV charging systems. By using high-quality components and their generous performance rating in the critical path, the design of the BELATRON modular system is optimally adapted to the harsh conditions of rapid charging with high currents and voltages.

Plug & play technology ensures quick and easy exchange of modules

PN: You mention short repair times. Could you briefly explain how these are achieved?

Erfen: The modular component concept is the basis for a significant reduction in installation and assembly times as well as for more user-friendly and efficient maintenance activities in subsequent operation. All settings and service work can be configured and undertaken from the front. The ‘hot swap’ capability allows each module to be replaced in less than ten minutes which equates to a maximum availability of 99.9999%

PN: You mention quick replacement on site. Is the technical support provided for a large number of scattered locations not a critical factor?

Erfen: BENNING has always invested a great deal of effort in maintaining the highest service standards for its customers. Our customers value the reliable, globally oriented service structure that provides the best possible support for their respective requirements.
In anticipation of future requirements, the service department has been greatly expanded over the past few years. We are talking about Service 4.0 which is offered as a proactive 360° service.
BENNING 360° services encompass reliable maintenance and spare parts management, with individual service contracts, which help safeguard the business and production processes of our customers, as well as prevent potential downtime and ensure long-term cost-efficiency. Thus, our customers are well prepared for the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.

PN: Mr. Erfen, thank you for the detailed and very interesting conversation.

Further Information

contact: Reinhard Erfen 
telephone: +49 2163 500 994

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