Siemens Mobility and Mitsubishi Electric sign MoU for SiC technology

The technology will enable efficient and sustainable transportation and electrical energy savings in the rail sector.

Siemens Mobility sustainability

Credit: Siemens Mobility - The 3300V Full/Hybrid SiC Power Module

Siemens Mobility and Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the field of SiC power module technology with the aim of enabling efficient and sustainable transportation and electrical energy savings in the transportation sector.

With creation of the “European Green Deal”, the European Union (EU) has committed itself to being the first continent to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, meaning no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. At an intermediate stage, emissions are already to be reduced by 55 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990. The European Green Deal will result in binding directives for individual sectors regarding CO2 emissions.

These directives apply in particular to the transport sector, where greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 90 per cent by 2050, alongside an increasing demand for mobility. In particular the rail industry and its suppliers, and more specifically the technologies and components used in rail transport, are important contributors to achieving this goal.

Power semiconductors play a key role in railway vehicles, from trams to high-speed trains. Standard silicon-based power semiconductors are being continuously developed, and new technologies are being advanced, such as the use of SiC (silicon carbide), which will enable even greater efficiency and the greatest reduction in weight in future. It is in fact the railroad market that is stimulating demand for more efficient energy conversion technology.

Mitsubishi Electric’s SiC devices have proven long-term reliability in the most demanding of applications such as traction inverters in trains. The potential for energy savings through the use of Mitsubishi Electric’s wide range of SiC power devices in railway technology exists particularly in the area of traction drives. In particular the full SiC 3300 V power modules contribute to energy saving and the downsizing of traction inverters. The suitable SiC chipset for high-speed switching is used in the standardised LV100 package, which provides low stray inductance and easy paralleling capability. The power losses of LV100 full SiC modules can be reduced by approximately 75 per cent compared to the conventional Si power modules during the inverter operation. As a result, the efficiency of the traction inverter is increased.

Thanks to years of experience, Siemens have formed the basis for the new Mireo Plus regional train platform, which enables operators to run their operations efficiently and economically without local CO2 emissions. Using the innovative technology of the battery powered Mireo Plus, Siemens Mobility enables electrification of railway lines even without a continuous overhead contact line. SiC technology is particularly beneficial for regional trains with an innovative battery hybrid drive for use on rail sections with, or without an overhead contact line. It reduces weight to a minimum, optimises performance, and boosts the efficiency of multiple units in terms of mileage and range. With an energetically optimised drive system, the energy absorption from the grid is nearly 10 per cent less than that of today’s vehicles, thanks to the use of SiC components. SiC’s greatest potential is in its higher energy efficiency and reduced weight.