Why hybrid drives are the future

Posted on March 18, 2019 by Lucie Maluck, Images by mtu

Hybrid drives connect two worlds: clean travel powered by electric motors and long-distance travel powered by combustion engine technology.
Friedrichshafen, Germany

Lower operating costs, environmental benefits, more power, less noise – hybrid drives are the concept for the future because they connect two worlds: clean travel powered by electric motors and long-distance travel powered by combustion engine technology. mtu has hybrid systems ready for production for ships and trains.

Electric vehicles do not offer range – or if they did, they would need giant batteries that are both heavy and expensive. The problem can be solved by combining electric technology with combustion engines that can easily master long distances. The mtu solution takes the form of a hybrid drive that always involves a battery. Hybrid drives offer a range of benefits. Train operators can utilize the energy released during braking by storing it and using it to power electric drive systems. The result cuts fuel consumption and is kinder to the environment. Even in marine applications, the combination of diesel engine, electric motor and battery offers wide-ranging benefits. For example, tugs fitted with electric motors are able to achieve high levels of maneuverability whilst high performance and the obvious advantages of quiet and low-vibration running are major factors for yacht operators.

Hybrid systems for vessels in operation from 2020 

mtu currently offers series-mature hybrid systems for trains and ships. Depending on the specific application, the marine system involves an mtu Series 2000 or 4000 engine, an intermediate gearbox with up to four electric motors, an optional mechanical gearbox, and one or more batteries. “Depending on the application and with our experience of systems integration, we can create an individual hybrid system for each customer,” said Daniel Staniszewski, Project Leader for Hybrid Yacht Technology at mtu. “Customers who need a lot of electric power can structure a system with several electric motors. And anyone who wants to cover long distances using only electricity can include multiple batteries. “The automation is pre-configured and interfaces are standardized so our hybrid system easily lends itself to modular construction,” said Staniszewski. British luxury yacht builder Sunseeker has already announced plans to have its first yacht powered by an mtu hybrid system afloat by fall 2020. 

The new Sunseeker yacht will have an integrated mtu hybrid propulsion system. It will consist of two 12-cylinder mtu Series 2000 diesel engines (each delivering around 1,432 kW/ 1,947 hp), on-board generators, electric propulsion modules, transmission system, batteries (mtu EnergyPack), control and monitoring systems and can be expanded on a modular basis.

Rail hybrid ready for series production

The first railcars powered by an mtu hybrid system are set to go into operation as early as the start of 2020. Contracts or statements of intent to purchase mtu hybrid drive systems have already been signed between mtu and the state-operated company Irish Rail, the British rail leasing company Porterbrook and Alpha Trains as well as the partners Abellio, Alstom and the regional rail service of Saxony-Anhalt. The basic concept behind mtu’s rail hybrid involves using an electric module that can function either as a generator or an electric motor to recuperate energy already delivered by the diesel engine and then released as kinetic energy during braking. This energy is then ‘temporarily stored’, chemically, in an mtu EnergyPack battery for use whenever the train has to operate particularly quietly or to accelerate quickly. In conjunction with the ‘Intelligent Drive Manager’ system and a new gearbox, the drive unit can achieve fuel savings of over 30% depending on the vehicle and timetable in operation. The system’s modular concept means the Hybrid PowerPack can be coupled with a huge range of gearbox and battery variants so that solutions for different vehicles and applications can be custom-tailored to match individual route profiles.

The mtu Hybrid PowerPack is an environmentally friendly drive system which combines the advantages of diesel and battery-powered rail traction. It incorporates an mtu diesel engine which fulfils future EU Stage V emissions regulations; plus an electric machine, which can be used either as an electric motor or generator; and an mtu EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking. This enables very low-noise, emissions-free battery-only electric operation in urban areas and around stations.

“Hybrid drives are one element in the transformation our company is undertaking from engine builder to solution provider for complete drive and power systems,” said Andreas Schell, Chairman of the Board of mtu parent Rolls-Royce Power Systems, in summary. 

Point of contact

Michael Finkbeiner
+49 7541 90 6332

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