Streetcar SWIMO powered by both overhead lines and nickel metal-hydride battery
Streetcar SWIMO powered by both overhead lines and nickel metal-hydride battery
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Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd completed SWIMO, a next-generation low-floor battery-powered light rail vehicle (LRV) that mounts an automotive nickel metal-hydride battery.

The company's proprietary battery, the Gigacell, which features sealing properties and a small size designed for automotive applications, is installed under the seats. SWIMO has a wide, barrier-free low-floor space.

The vehicle also realizes substantial energy-savings by storing power generated at braking (regenerative electric power). The vehicle can eliminate the need for overhead line infrastructure because it runs on a battery and thus will not spoil the sight.

As a result, it contributes to the establishment of vehicle system in view of railroad operators' needs. For example, the vehicle facilitates railroad operators to provide new lines and to expand the existing ones.

The company conducted a test run of the new vehicle on a test track with a total length of about 2km built in its Harima Plant (located in Harima, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan) and confirmed the basic performances of Gigacell mounted on SWIMO.

From now on, the company intends to verify that the vehicle can run 10km or more without the additional battery charge after power corresponding to 20% of the battery capacity is charged by a rapid charging for 5 minutes. The company also plans to conduct test runs and confirm the performances of Gigacell in a snowy cold region.

The nickel metal-hydride battery currently developed for SWIMO is best suited to rapidly charge/discharge a large amount of electric power, the company said. It features a high level of safety by eliminating the use of harmful, hazardous substances such as lead, sodium and lithium. It also has a high recyclability because it is easy to disassemble.

SWIMO's specifications are as follows. The feeding current is 600V DC (supplied from the overhead lines and automotive battery). The vehicle has an articulated structure composed of three vehicle bodies and three bogies with a capacity of 62 passengers (seats for 28 people).

The overall length is 15m. The floor is 330 and 360mm from the ground at the entrance and in the passenger cabin, respectively. The top speed is 40km/h. The main control is the IGB inverter control using a three-phase induction motor. The battery capacity is 274Ah. The allowable travel distance in the non-electrified section is 10km or more (on a regular line).