ABB Gets $16 Million Order For 600 kW Flash Charging For Electric Buses

AUG 23 2016 BY MARK KANE 20

ABB announced the 1st commercial order for its 15-second flash charging technology for electric buses.

TOSA electric bus

TOSA electric bus

That’s after some three years since we first heard about the pilot TOSA (Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation) project in Geneva.

Overall, Geneva seems to be pretty happy with the TOSA prototype and was willing to buy 12 more buses.

The commercial project includes 12 TOSA buses and 13 flash-charging stations (at 600 kW each) as well as 3 terminal and 4 depot feeding stations.

It is a pretty important project for ABB, as the company is also supplying  e-powertrains for the buses themselves – “12 flexible drivetrain solutions for the buses including integrated traction and auxiliary converters, roof-mounted battery units and energy transfer systems (ETS), as well as permanent magnet traction motors“.

“ABB has been awarded orders totaling more than $16 million by Transports Publics Genevois (TPG), Geneva’s public transport operator, and Swiss bus manufacturer HESS, to provide flash charging and on-board electric vehicle technology for 12 TOSA (Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation) fully electric buses (e-buses) which will run on Line 23, connecting Geneva’s airport with suburban Geneva. The e-buses can help save as much as 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, when compared with existing diesel buses.

ABB will deliver and deploy 13 flash-charging stations along an urban transit bus route, as well as three terminal and four depot feeding stations. This will be the world’s fastest flash-charging connection technology taking less than 1 second to connect the bus to the charging point. The onboard batteries can then be charged in 15 seconds with a 600-kilowatt boost of power at the bus stop. A further 4 to 5 minute charge at the terminus at the end of the line enables a full recharge of the batteries. The innovative technology was developed by ABB engineers in Switzerland.”

“The decision to deploy TOSA on Line 23 was undertaken after the successful pilot of the first such e-bus on the route from Geneva airport to the Palexpo exhibition center. The Line 23 bus route will be slightly modified in order to provide a fast connection to Praille-Acacias-Vernet, a new suburb being built to accommodate 11,000 flats and office space for about 11,000 employees. When fully commissioned in 2018, the high-capacity articulated buses will depart from both terminuses at 10-minute intervals during peak times. The line carries more than 10,000 passengers a day and the replacement of diesel buses by TOSA e-buses reduces noise as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of a separate award by HESS, ABB will supply 12 flexible drivetrain solutions for the buses including integrated traction and auxiliary converters, roof-mounted battery units and energy transfer systems (ETS), as well as permanent magnet traction motors. Both contracts include five-year maintenance and service agreements to ensure operational reliability, efficiency and safety.”

TOSA electric bus

TOSA electric bus


Claudio Facchin, President of ABB’s Power Grids division said:

“We are proud of this breakthrough technology to support Geneva’s vision of providing a silent and zero-emission urban mass transportation for the city. It provides a model for future urban transport and reinforces our vision of sustainable mobility for a better world. As part of our Next Level strategy, we are committed to developing customer-focused solutions and technologies that help lower environmental impact.”

Luc Barthassat, Geneva’s State Councilor for Transport and Environment said:

“The deployment of TOSA on Line 23 is the result of the collaborative efforts of the public and private sector partners who invested in this vision. This innovative project opens the way for the future of mobility, by providing a sustainable and environmentally-friendly mass transport solution for the well-being of our community,”.

ABB 15-second flash charging technology (TOSA)

ABB 15-second flash charging technology (TOSA)

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20 Comments on "ABB Gets $16 Million Order For 600 kW Flash Charging For Electric Buses"

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Wahoo, I want that under my Model 3! That’s the last goodbye to petrol cars.

600kW charging is a good thing. Criticizing other EV but technology is a bad thing. I think they should concentrate on their technology advantages over diesel buses and drop all the carping about other Ev buses.

Ok, plenty of assumptions here:

20 seconds (where did the 15 come from?) @ 600 kw is 12000 kws or 3 1/3 kwh, assuming 100% EFFICIENCY, and assuming the 600 kw is continuous for the entire duration.

Now I have to say, this is practical since it could be implemented with a beefy capacitor bank, along with a volt sized battery to recharge the capacitors, and then a small wall box to recharge the battery.

ABB is a large multinational power and grid management company with 135.000 employees world wide. Compare, for example, to Boeing with a mere 83.347 employees.

The construction of the high voltage DC power line from Three Gorges Dam to Shanghai (1,060 km) was overseen by ABB, who were instrumental in popularizing long distance power transmission using direct current rather than AC. (fewer line losses, corolla effects, etc. with DC compared to AC)

The company has put in several HVDC transmission lines world wide. They are a major player in electrical transmission and grid management.

These buses are not vaporware and ABB is not a start-up.

That’s true… But on the other hand, this still seems a bit like ABB trying to salvage their former Substation at Each Bus Stop idea which really was brain dead.

BYD, with their large capacity battery busses need no laser-guided nothing. None of that.

This Idea has merit since at least it is semi-affordable – but I wouldn’t count BYD’s more and more popular system out just yet.

Wonder what chemistry battery this uses.. or does an ultracapacitor replace the battery in this system – hence tge flash charging? Kind of makes Porche’s “Turbo Charging” CCS upgrade, appear last century.

As impressive as this is I have to admit I am a little bit confused to as why they have done it. I really understand the 4-5 min recharge time at the end of each trip is great but I am less convinced by the 13, 20 second flash charges mid-journey. Essentially it works out to be around 40 kWh of energy going in during “flash charging”. From what I’ve read that essentially doubles the range of the bus (i.e. the LTO battery is about 40 kWh). I suppose it means that the bus could in theory travel much, much further i.e. if they had 130 flash charging stations the bus could absorb 400 kWh and the route could be 10 times further than it is now but it seems pretty capital intensive to me. Surely an 80 kWh battery and a 1.2MW charger at each end would be better or even a 80 kWh battery and a 10 min change over at each end with a 600 kW charger. Anyway, LTO batteries, IMO, have a far greater chance of revolutionizing EV’s than the more often talked up Lithium air batteries. The energy density isn’t exactly crash hot but I… Read more »

Yeah, if this were a space ship with limited payload capacity that would be one thing.

But this is a huge bus with gobs of space to put huge batteries, and I don’t see any BYD busses losing any seats because of it. The graphic said 20 seconds. the video says 15.

Even if we assume 2.5 kwh going into the system every stop (600 kw * 15 secs) , and that the power level stays this high (constant power charging), and the losses charging the ‘battery’ aren’t too great, it still remains that you won’t get exactly 2.5 kwh of charging due to the inevitable losses.

And BYD’s battery start out with hundreds of ‘stops’ worth of batteries, and at the end of the day have to be either plugged in or wirelessly charged. Since all EV owners have to do the same thing, this isn’t so much of a disadvantage. And they may be charged off peak, so the electricity is way cheaper.

If they have a lot of clean energy during the day, let them send it over to the Tesla Superchargers instead, to prevent the SC’s otherwise somewhat problematic load on the grid.

I’m not saying they’re correct, but they claim an advantage due to energy saving (lighter buses), and no downtime for the buses that would be required by a 5-hour DC quick charge (no idea what the 5 hours assume for a charging rate), which in turn would require more buses to serve the same # of customers. They also claim 1% loss when charging — see

Maybe it depends on the exact characteristics of the route (stops, passengers etc.) — it’s just 8km one way.

the presentation I linked.

I don’t believe with current technology it is possible to get under 1% loss. It would have to be a very large capacitor bank at the station to a very large capacitor bank in the bus.

And then there is the loss through the inductors and the hexfets. 600 kw isn’t exactly easy to make lossless. BUt I’ll check out the link.

Some of the key numbers are missing in the article to figure out where the big win is (over charging only at the depot plus 1-2 times along the route).

Some missing details are here:
http://www.apta.com/mc/annual/previous/2014/LZpresentations/Learning%20Zone%20Presentations/BTMCT_Simounet.pdf

Their battery is 38kWh, LTO chemistry & weighs ~1t (sounds a bit high to me)… They say that a battery sufficiently large for the entire route would add 3t of weight and take up passenger space (and a lot more energy to move on an ongoing basis).

The claim is that 12 fast chargers over the 8-km route is cheaper than needing multiple long charging sessions (and associated downtime) at the depot at midday (need more buses).

I would have thought that the flash-charge stations would be too expensive to have more than 1-2 along the route, but maybe not… You’d likely amortize the cost over multiple bus lines using the same stations.

Basically, this is a kind of compromise between an electric trolleybus with overhead catenary & a large-battery-for-entire-route approach. It has the obvious advantage vs. overhead catenary of much simpler infrastructure, safety and some ability to change/divert routes on the fly.

I do wonder how far the bus can travel on the full battery.

Ok something is really fishy here. Your brouchure only mentions 400 kw (@500 volts).

If they say ‘under 1% loss’ and apparently it goes directly into the battery, then they are talking about a 10 C charge rate for a 38 kwh battery.

Obviously they are ignoring battery heating, which never gets into chemical storage.

If the batteries were over 99% efficient, they wouldn’t need water cooling.

There’s no mention of bus energy consumption in the article. Assuming the buses take 1,000 W/mile then the buses could travel no more than 2 1/2 miles between charges. My city has more than 60 bus routes that need to be electrified to follow Geneva’s lead.

Assuming the average route is 10 miles we would need about 250 charging stations. Geneva is spending $16 million for 13 charging stations so my city would have to spend over $300 million for 250 charging stations. The budget for my city bus system is about $90 million and we are in the process of installing a $800 million commuter rail line so I guess it’s doable if there was a significant long term payback.

Perhaps they can fine tune the battery energy capacity in function of the local distance between stops. If it is say 3 times more, they can have 3 times more battery in order to keep the same number of stops. Of course the 15 seconds would then be adapted to 45 seconds also or the power would be further increased to 1800 KW.

THis 1% loss thing ==>> ABB must be blowing smoke.

Ever stand near a Supercharger Corral when a dead Tesla is charging?

Besides the heating of everything associated with the car, there are also the billows of heat coming out from the large fan at the supercharger bay (presumably with 12 Tesla chargers in it).

But then Tesla never claims ‘99% efficiency’, and it doesn’t matter to the user since Tesla is footing the Bill.

And the battery charge rate at the Supercharger is not 10 C as it just has to be here.

When someone invents a ‘superconducting battery’ then I’ll believe it. Again, this is also leaving out any wiring losses or electronics losses. OR ESR losses at the bus stop end of things.

Unless they are continuing their silly “Substation at each bus stop” nonsense, which they wouldn’t have to, since it makes much more sense to have a battery buffer, and trickle charge it while waiting for the next bus.

Superconductors would help to make smaller high power charging cables but not to make 10 C battery cells. Increasing the electrode surface would be needed for that. So for a same energy content the cell would have 5 times the electrodes surfaces of a 2C cell but the electrodes would be five times thinner. Unfortunately the electrolyte between the electrodes doesn’t get thinner so you still end up with more volume. So high C tend to lower energy content. Somewhere a balance must be found.

It was a bit of a joke. The loss through the cables is trivial compared to the other losses.

Tesla is always supposed to be on the leading edge of technology supposedly correct?

The graphs in the last article: Didn’t they mention that an 85 kwh tesla that is dead will initially draw 105 kw and then taper down as charging completes?

If they are so modern how come they haven’t come any where close to 99% efficiency? Or not even 90.

You must be a generalist if you think 1800 kw and 600 kw are of equal difficulty, or even 3 times the difficulty.

One thing is for sure Priusmaniac:

They are never going to get any R & D money out of you , seeing as you drive 100% gasoline vehicles.

Petrol-Canada thanks you.

15 seconds at 600 kW is 2.5 kWh. But if the process takes 15 seconds you don’t get quite that much actually AT full power. And at this power level there’s bound to be greater heat losses than with slower charging – especially for a smaller battery pack, which is the only benefit of the system. So let us assume it can add 2 kWh at each stop. With 13 of the stops along the route having this, you have added 26 kWh en route that you didn’t have to have on board at the outset. I don’t think tethering your bus to it’s own dedicated infrastructure is worth it just so you can have 26 kWh less batteries on board. One of the great advantages of a bus over a tram is precisely that it shares the infrastructure with everyone else. The MAIN advantage of a subway is that it has entirely its own dedicated infrastructure. This, like for trams, is a weird sort of hybrid where you get the worst of both worlds: You are still stuck in traffic, AND you still need your own dedicated infrastructure. Whenever there is any roadwork going on the whole route goes… Read more »

Error on the photo label just below the title “Geneva’s new CO2-free public transport solution”
Usually we say that the CO2 is simply emitted at the power station rather than at the vehicle.
– The electricity comes from the Swiss/French grid so it will have some CO2 emmissions, cos apart from hydro and nuclear all electricity supplies either do emit CO2 or are super inefficient per $$ spent like wind and solar power.
An electric vehicle can end up emitting CO2 than a conventional vehicle taking account of everything.