The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Rittal supplies infrastructure for electromobility
Innovation – Transportation technology

Powering up fast

Enclosure technology. Electromobility is becoming increasingly appealing, not least because the charging infrastructure is getting better and better. Rittal supports the entire value chain, from power generation through to the charging station.

When Michaela Schneider gets home from work, she already has the next item on her to-do list lined up – shopping for the weekend. She has just under half an hour before she has to pick up the kids from school. When she arrives at the Hessen-Center mall in Frankfurt, she steps out of her electric car in the car park, plugs it into a 50 kilowatt charger, checks her shopping list and heads for the store. In the half hour Michaela is busy stocking up on her store cupboard essentials, her car is topping up its power reserves ready for the next 100 kilometres.

Text Sophie Bruns ––– Photography


Optimum performance for chargers

Electric cars can top up their power at chargers in a similar way to refuelling at a petrol station. The car is simply parked at the charger. Rittal offers enclosure solutions for these chargers in the shape of either standard enclosures for industrial applications or bespoke designs. Twin-walled enclosures are particularly suitable as they satisfy the impact resistance requirements for public fast chargers and can be configured with a particularly resilient design.

Electronics under one roof

The power electronics and control modules provide the supply for several chargers and therefore need to be well protected. Various climate-control concepts and structures can be implemented in one secure housing by using divider panels, 19'' mounting frames and mounting plates.

Power saved

One container for all. To establish a complete energy storage infrastructure, Rittal offers preassembled containers for everything from racks and battery mounts to the necessary climate-control systems. One such solution is the VX25, which supports rapid battery replacement and can accommodate high loads of up to 1,400 kilograms.

A second life for car batteries

If the power density of a battery starts to give out to the extent that the electric vehicle can no longer rely on an adequate power supply, the battery can instead be used as an alternative power supply for a charging station, for instance. Depending on the relevant scenario, these batteries are housed in either an indoor or outdoor enclosure. The climate control concept is designed in line with the C-rate, which plays a big part in determining the waste heat generated by the batteries. The C-rate is a battery’s nominal capacity in ampere-hours in relation to the charge or discharge current.

Transformers in containers

The transformer station is where the current from the medium- voltage network is converted into the electric voltage used by the low-voltage networks.

Powered by electricity from the start

As renewable energy sources, the sun and wind have been growing in popularity for years. In addition to solar and wind power, electromobility can also be powered by coal and natural gas. Rittal supplies turnkey system solutions and control cabinets for wind farms and generator terminal boxes for solar panels.

“We’ve made it our mission to take e-mobility from a niche to the mainstream,” explains Thorsten Nicklass, CEO of Elli (Electric Life), a subsidiary recently established by Volksbank. What this means is that a growing number of users like Michaela will, in future, be able to charge their car where they work, shop and live. “Electromobility calls for a different approach to fuelling our cars, making it part of our daily routine,” Johannes Gimbel, Vertical Market Manager Automotive at Rittal, explains.

„The Rittal outdoor enclosure solutions satisfy the most stringent requirements and are helping introduce standardisation into the infrastructure. We’ve also raised our profile with customers as a result”

Johannes Gimbel
Vertical Market Manager Automotive at Rittal

The automobile industry has also been working hard on this, not least since the diesel scandal, and since public authorities started banning cars from city centres and the European Union introduced stricter CO2 limits for new cars. Even though electromobility using 100 per cent electricity from renewables is by far and away the most highly developed eco-friendly mobility solution for our roads, there is still the RIP problem – range, infrastructure, price. There has, however, for a number of years, been an additional solution for the infrastructure issue in Germany besides a proliferation of 50 kilowatt charging stations. Drivers making long journeys through the country can also use special fast chargers to top up their batteries at motorway service stations in the space of a few minutes.

 “The Rittal outdoor enclosure solutions satisfy the most stringent requirements and are helping introduce standardisation into the infrastructure. We’ve also raised our profile with customers as a result,” Gimbel adds. One of the first customers to approach Rittal about electromobility was Enercon, which supplies charging stations and took the first 350-kilowatt fast charger into operation in 2018. “We needed reliable enclosure technology for our new E-Charger 600,” Dr Frank Mayer, Project Manager for Rapid Charging Stations at Enercon, explains. “Since Rittal already had proven experience and expertise in enclosure design and in the energy sector, it was just the right fit for us.”

Nice and green. Quick chargers by Enercon are powered by renewable energy. The wind turbine manufacturer relies on enclose solutions from Rittal.

Well protected

“Rittal supports the entire value chain from power generation through to climate control for the charging stations. We can also make the most of our expertise in other sectors such as telecommunications. The very heart of the modular system at Rittal is always the stable frame,” Gimbel points out. One particularly important quality factor when it comes to outdoor enclosures is secure access and personal safety. What’s more, fluctuating weather conditions mean that cooling is needed for when things get hot and heat needs to be consistently distributed. However, it is not just wind and weather that affect the condition of a fast charger.

“Enclosures that are out in the open need to be secured against break-ins and the power electronics must have an adequate climate control solution, too,” Gimbel explains. The electricity cable on the latest generation of fast chargers even needs its own liquid cooling solution. However, as well as already having a suitable range of products, Rittal is also working on more concepts. “We are keen to collaborate with our customer on expanding the use of second-life batteries and supplying the corresponding enclosure solutions. The potential of old car batteries can be used for an alternative power supply,” says Gimbel. Expanding supply stations like these could be another solution to the RIP problem – and another opportunity for users like Michaela to top up their battery wherever they are. 

  • “E-mobility for all”

    “E-mobility for all”

    David Finn founded Tritium in Queensland, Australia. The company is expanding into Europe to meet the needs of IONITY, one of Europe’s biggest charging networks.

    Fast chargers. Finding an Ionity charging station is not much of a problem for electric vehicle owners these days. Europe’s biggest fast charging network uses chargers from Australian supplier Tritium – including integrated technology from Rittal. Tritium’s founder and CEO David Finn explains why now is the time to have faith in e-mobility.

    Interview: Sophie Bruns

    Mr Finn, Tritium has been operating for 20 years now. What motivated you to set out on your own? I never actually intended to – it just happened. At the time, I was at the University of Queensland, where we were using batteries to run power electronics systems and applications. After a while, we discovered the potential of fast chargers and started to develop our expertise in this area.

    That saw Tritium become one of Australia’s fastest growing companies… ...going from a start-up to being one of the five biggest suppliers in the e-mobility market was an exciting journey for us. We’ve received financial support from the Government of Queensland over the past two years so that we can continue to grow. In the beginning there weren’t many electric cars in Australia and growth was sluggish. That was another reason why we expanded into Europe – things were moving faster there.

    One of the key concepts at Tritium is “energy freedom”. What exactly does that mean? It has a dual meaning. Firstly, it’s about being able to charge your car with electricity easily whenever you like – and at a low cost. Secondly, it also means people don’t need to change their lifestyles to do something good for the environment. Electromobility is becoming accessible for a broad mass market. People can install these systems at their house, too, and achieve independence that way.

    Does this also make electromobility more appealing? Most certainly. When there are more chargers, there’s more trust in e-mobility. Besides the price of an electric or hybrid car, range also plays a crucial role. Once the vehicles can cover a long distance on a single charge and there are enough charging stations around, there’s no longer any reason not to use electric vehicles. Our aim is to ensure everyone will in future be able to charge their car really easily, whether they’re out and about, at work or at home.

    How is Rittal helping you pursue this aim? When we launched production to meet an order for IONITY, we needed to find a supplier for enclosures. One of the key criteria was rapid availability, as we also had to fulfil this major order quickly. Other important factors were the service and availability offered by Rittal. That is what won us over.

    Not only have you expanded into Germany, but last year you were also declared “Queensland Exporter of the Year”. What do you have planned next for Tritium? The new headquarters in Amsterdam is going to be an exciting project, but we basically want to keep heading in the same direction. We have grown year on year and expanded worldwide, and we can and should see the same trend continue as regards infrastructure.


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