Swiss consortium builds “mega charging station”

19.12.2022 Winterthur-based Designwerk Technologies AG is building a new type of megawatt charging system. It has been designed to enable rapid charging of e-trucks within 45 minutes and thus make e-trucks capable of long-distance travel. In the project, researchers from the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH are investigating the influence of fast charging on the battery as well as the suitability of second-life batteries for operation in the charging station.

Designwerk Technologies AG is currently building one of the world’s first megawatt charging stations. The container-sized charging station is scheduled to start charging e-trucks in spring 2023. It is expected to be up to six times faster than conventional high-capacity charging stations with a 350 kW output. Integrated battery buffers are designed to cope with peak demand. Another aim is for the charging stations to operate in a way that is beneficial to the energy grid. Scientific support for these technical innovations is provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and prominent industrial partners. The research side of the project involves the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) and the University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland (OST).

Good charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles is essential

Heavy vehicle traffic is a key factor in the energy transition and the achievement of climate targets. Around 6.6 million trucks are at work on Europe’s roads. They transport 76.7% of all land-based freight. Consequently, it is also important to increase the proportion of low-emission or zero-emission means of transport in this sector. “A new kind of charging infrastructure is needed for long-distance trucks in particular, as well as for ships and aircraft. It is different from the infrastructure for electric cars and makes it possible to charge heavy commercial vehicles in a short time. This helps to ensure that zero-emission freight transport reaches every field of application,” explains Vivien Dettwiler, a member of the Designwerk management. In order for the system to find the necessary acceptance, it is based on the new charging standard called the Megawatt Charging System, or MCS for short. This was launched globally in June of this year.

Security of supply as a project element

The recognition that powerful charging stations require networks is an integral aspect of the project's initial situation. The demonstration facility is therefore intended to highlight ways in which a high-capacity charging network and security of supply can go hand in hand. “We install Second Life e-truck batteries in our charging containers as a buffer to cope with peak demand. This not only eliminates the need to expand the grid, it also means that the battery system should be able to feed renewable electricity back into the grid,” Dettwiler says. Similar to bidirectional charging, electromobility can therefore be incorporated into supply solutions. Demonstration systems at Galliker Transport AG, Käppeli Logistik and Murg Flums Energie will prove that this works.

BFH investigates second-life storage system

Within the project, researchers from the Centre for Energy Storage at the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH are investigating how the modular second-life storage system should be technically constructed and what operating time can be expected. They are also investigating the influence of fast charging on the battery of the e-truck.

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Subject area: Energy Conversion, Distribution + Storage