ABB builds global e-mobility R&D centre at TU Delft

ABB builds global e-mobility R&D centre at TU Delft

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Swiss power giant ABB is building a $10m global R&D centre in the Netherlands to develop the next generation of charging systems for electic vehicles.

The 3,600 m2 facility is based on the Delft University of Technology campus in the Netherlands and will drive ABB’s future portfolio development, as well as R&D projects for EVs. In 2020 the University was ranked among the top 15 engineering and technology universities in the world.

Along with an investment of $30 million into a global Center of Excellence and production site for EV charging infrastructure, due to open next year in Italy, the facility in Delft underlines ABB’s plans to grow investments in sustaining its technology leadership.

“ABB has led the way in EV charging and is proud to have played a key role in driving adoption rates of electric vehicles across the world. That is why we wanted to locate our E-mobility Innovation Lab in Delft, in the heart of the university campus, where we are surrounded by the brightest tech talents and start-ups in the Netherlands,” said Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for E-mobility Infrastructure Solutions.

The complex will house up to 120 specialists and marks the return of ABB’s EV charging business to the home of its conception. The students who founded Epyon, the EV charging start-up acquired by ABB in 2011, were former students from Delft University of Technology.

“Within ABB Electrification, we invest approximately $400 million per annum into R&D to ensure we remain at the forefront of technological leadership and set the standard when it comes to sustainable mobility. As part of this investment, we are focused on pushing the boundaries of e-mobility, predominantly in the areas of charging, storage and digitalization. The new lab will allow us to strengthen our collaboration with EV manufacturers to drive further performance and progress across the sector,” said Muehlon.

The E-mobility Innovation Lab has been fitted with the latest technology to ensure that ABB chargers are compatible with all types of vehicle. Simulators have been built exactly for this purpose, with 95 percent of all tests to be conducted with a digital twin versions of vehicles.

To test how vehicles perform in very hot or cold weather, ABB has developed special environmental testing rooms, where solutions will be subjected to extreme conditions, including temperatures from -40 to +100 degrees Celsius and high humidity. The atrium in the centre is large enough for manufacturers to drive their cars, buses or trucks into the warm and controlled environment to conduct testing, which will help advance charging for the rapidly growing electric-heavy vehicle segment.

For heating and cooling, the ABB complex will be connected to the Delft University of Technology geothermal heating/cooling plant. The roof will house solar panels, with solar inverters to convert DC harvested from the sun into AC, which together with ABB’s advanced building management system for climate and light control and battery storage system, will allow testing energy to be fed back into the grid.

ABB entered the EV-charging market in 2010, and to date has sold more than 17,000 ABB DC fast chargers across 80 countries. From Season 9, in 2022-23, ABB will become official charging supplier to the Formula E electric racing championship.

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