Charging batteries in record time

e-motec
January 9, 2024

Charging batteries in record time

A Swiss SME makes it possible to load an e-truck with freight and “refuel” its batteries in the same step.

Patrick Kern

As a start-up spun off from “Brugg Cables” three years ago, “BRUGG eConnect AG” now presents products that are making headlines in the sector. The SME’s strategy for success includes cable solutions for industry, wind energy and e-mobility. “With our charging systems, BRUGG eConnect AG, on the one hand, wants to make e-mobility accessible to everyone and, on the other hand, drive forward the energy transition,” says Patrick Kern, CEO of BRUGG eConnect AG.

fig 1
Figure 1

Milestone reached

Technological developments are progressing rapidly in terms of the speed of a charge. Today, depending on the car model and charging capacity, it takes between 15 and 30 minutes to charge a battery at a high-power charging station. This performance is achieved, for example, with a maintenance friendly uncooled PURWIL HPC 500 Cable. “New charging stations with cooled charging systems will allow this under 10 minutes, which will make the charging process comparable to refuelling vehicles with combustion engines,” Patrick continued.

In October 2022, the company unveiled its latest coup: the so-called Megawatt Charging System (MCS), designed for use with all types of heavy-duty vehicles used in a variety of industries – specifically including battery-electric trucks. There are now many charging stations for electric passenger cars – but only a few exist for trucks. A gap in the market – because every minute counts in the highly competitive logistics market, powerful fast-charging stations are in demand. For example, the batteries of trucks can now be charged while they are being loaded with goods.

Based on the new connector specification (MCS), together with the Swiss engineering group Cavotec we have developed a cooled MCS charging system that enables charging currents for the first time of up to 3,000 kilowatts (kW) – a world first.

During the first round of testing in August 2022, the development team still struggled with some challenges, such as the cooling hoses, which could not withstand the temperatures at the high loads. Further, the system pressure was also immense, which led to a heavy load on the insulation of the power conductors. However, this problem was solved with the help of a redesign of the connection technology. In October 2022, the MCS Level 3 system was successfully tested.

Under a load of 3000A, stable temperature values could be maintained over a long period of time (see Figure 1: Charging cable 3000 Ampere). After the termination of the current load of 3000A and 1500 V, the temperature values recovered quickly, so that the system would be ready for use again after a short period.

20221024 MCS bauma3 Moment

In the meantime, several pilot systems have already been delivered to customers, some of which are already being used for field tests.

In the future, the fast-charging system can be used for electrically powered commercial vehicles, ships and aircraft. Our existing CCS 2 charging systems can conduct 850 kW and are also market leaders in this area, Patrick said. The CCS2 system will continue to be used for passenger vehicles, he said.

The Megawatt Charging System (MCS) will help make electric commercial vehicles economically attractive. This will make it possible for new brownfields to operate in a CO2-neutral manner. In construction, for example, this leads to a win-win situation for the environment, local residents and employees. Electronic commercial vehicles are much quieter and do not emit heat like vehicles with combustion engines.

Innovative, high-quality and sustainable products as focus

BRUGG eConnect AG, a young company with old roots, has been focusing on innovation and excellent Swiss quality since 1896. The company is continuously investing in new production facilities in Switzerland, Poland and the USA to meet increasing demand. The planned expansion is expected to double production capacity by 2025.

Joaquin Raposo
Joaquin Raposo

To improve and ensure the quality of our products, we expanded the Quality Department in January 2023 to work more effectively. This is headed by Joaquin Raposo, the Chief Quality Officer (CQO). “I am committed to flawless processes and quality, as they are a key factor in our success, along with our innovations,” says Raposo.

Innovation is firmly embedded in the company’s mission. We hold regular strategy seminars with the company’s key people, discussing the latest market trends and challenges faced by customers and end users. This constantly generates new starting points for innovations, which are then evaluated and further developed according to the design thinking approach.

We also attach great importance to sustainability and plan to score points with our sustainable products in the future. The new production facilities will help to improve process optimizations, automation and the company’s own CO2 footprint. By 2030, the entire Group has set itself the goal of being CO2 neutral, and to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

“We understand sustainability as a corporate management strategy that is focused on long-term success and aims to use all resources carefully to meet the needs of current and future generations,” says Dr. Stephan Wartmann, CEO of BRUGG Group. “Therefore, BRUGG pursues a holistic sustainability strategy that considers all three components – environmental, social and governance (ESG).”

The group has developed three programs to implement the ESG areas. In 2022, the company laid the groundwork for implementing sustainability and conducted initial pilot projects. The lessons learned will be incorporated into the sustainability strategy, the Group-wide implementation of which will start in 2023. For fiscal 2023, BRUGG will publish a comprehensive sustainability report based on globally recognized reporting standards (in particular GRI) and the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We are aware of our responsibility and live sustainability as a practiced corporate culture at all levels,” says Raposo. “More and more is also being done to promote diversity in the social sphere; this year, for example, BRUGG Group held its first women’s networking event and is also committed to age diversity.

In the future, BRUGG eConnect AG wants to score points not only with new innovations and their quality, but also with sustainably produced products.

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