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Silicon carbide inverters offer a lot to railcar users

Mitsubishi Electric is launching SiC power modules which should enable more compact, energy-efficient and quieter railcar systems.

The firm’s next-generation traction inverter system incorporates large-capacity SiC power modules.

Mitsubishi Electric says that railcar systems fitted with the traction inverter will achieve 30% energy savings, require less maintenance and emit less noise than conventional silicon power modules. The first commercial application, following a series of ongoing field tests starting January 2012, is expected to be in railcars of Tokyo Metro.



SiC inverter for railcars

Compared to silicon-based power modules used in current traction inverters, the newly developed SiC power module offers a number of important improvements. In addition to 30% reduced power loss in the traction inverter, inverter size and weight have been reduced by 40%.

The new inverter system also enhances the performance of regenerative brakes, which will lead to producing more regenerative electricity. Incorporating two 1,700V and 1,200A SiC chips, the new inverter's high-frequency switching capability also achieves 40% less power loss in the motor. What’s more, the new inverter emits up to 6dB less noise compared to conventional models.

Railways are garnering renewed attention as a means of reduced-carbon transportation. Continued improvements in railcar equipment performance, including Mitsubishi Electric's new inverter system, are expected to lower the environmental impact of railways even further.
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