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Innovative hybrid concept

The HELMS (Hybrid Electronic Mechanical Shunter) project stands for innovative and energy efficient modernisation.

With this project, we are taking a whole new direction.

It involves replacing the diesel-hydraulic drive system of Class 294 vehicles with an electro-mechanical hybrid drive system so as to ensure a future-proof energy management system. The conversion has no effect on the traction properties such as the tractive power.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the modernisation, the technical concept is being tested on two vehicles until the end of 2017. In 2020 the technical solution for diesel-hydraulic shunting locomotives is to be implemented in series production.

Thanks to the new components and the way they interact with each other, diesel fuel consumption and carbon emissions (in accordance with the sustainability requirements) could be reduced by 20%. In addition to this, it was possible to develop a temporary emission-free mode of operation and reduce the average noise emissions.

In addition to the environmental benefits, commercial aspects are taken into account as well. We expect an increase in service life of at least 16 years. The diesel engines, frames and bogies can continue to be used and maintenance costs can be reduced. Existing diesel engines do not necessarily have to be replaced, which leads to further savings.

The conventional hydraulic transmission is replaced by a hybrid planetary transmission that optimises power transmission and enables efficient consumption thanks to a hybrid control unit. By using lithium-ion batteries, the high no-load rate of the diesel engine is reduced and even enables temporary emission-free operation.

The savings compared to the diesel-hydraulic system are achieved through improved transmission efficiency while maintaining the performance of the diesel engine and recharging the battery during operation.

To install the new components, existing components, for example the braking chart, had to be shifted or made smaller, which was a big challenge.

In order to implement the innovative hybrid solution in vehicles of the 1,000 kW performance class, a joint project was set up within the DB Group. DB Cargo as the operator assumed project management. DB Systemtechnik was responsible for system design, hybrid control and integration engineering.
DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung contributed with its retrofitting experience and took over the responsibility for retrofitting. At the same time, the CTO unit of DB AG supported the project and contributed to it financially.

Two partners from the industry, Toshiba and Henschel, are responsible for the supply of the main components.