Hybrid train with MTU power packs

With the presentation at the Innotrans 2012 the hybrid test train heralded the future of rail travel on non-electrified lines in Germany.

  • up to 30% fuel savings
  • diesel and electric motor can be used in combination or individually
  • excess energy can be stored
  • emission-free arrival and departure in stations
  • less noise
  • design with individually controllable modules (power packs)


The challenge

The project was implemented with MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH. Various tasks were required of the VECTOPOWER inverter: As a starter, generator, traction drive and in addition as a drive for an energy-efficient air conditioning system. The rail car equipped with the MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH prototype hybrid power pack has been on practice runs since 2012. The results prove possible fuel savings of up to 25%..

The idea 

  1. Recuperation: The energy released during braking is buffered in a powerful battery.
  2. Boost: The combustion engine is supported by an additional device for required peak power and can thus be optimized for maximum efficiency at constant power. Excess energy is buffered so that this is available for the required power peaks.

The aim is to test the technology in further trains in the coming years and so reach series-production readiness for hybrid technology. A modular design with various sized components is used so that the technology can also be used for totally different applications such as construction machines.

The project

For reasons of efficiency, functionality and the expected fuel savings, the project partners decided to use a diesel-mechanical parallel hybrid in combination with lithium-ion batteries. This means that the new MTU hybrid power pack consists of a diesel engine and a so-called crankshaft starter generator that can recuperate a large amount of energy during braking and also support the diesel engine during acceleration.

The combination of IC engine and electric drive means that diesel engines with less power can be used in comparison to the current systems – as long as the required power peaks that influence dimensioning of the motor are only required for a short amount of time. The energetic coupling of both drive systems means that with the hybrid power pack it is possible to switch off individual drives during partial load while others run at full capacity and thus with better efficiency. According to the requirements the drive system can be operated with a diesel engine, with the electric motor or with a combination of diesel and electric.

The results show possible fuel savings of up to 30% - an economic as well as environmental advantage.

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MTU train test

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MTU train drive train

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