© EBG compleo GmbH

Quiet chargers

Quick charging stations from EBG compleo GmbH do more than just making the drivers of elec­tric cars happy. Thanks to quiet fans, they also let their neigh­bors sleep soundly.

Before the internal combus­tion engine was invented, it looked like the elec­tric motor had a great future to look forward to; the first cars were powered by elec­tricity and not gaso­line. But then Carl Benz presented his Benz Patent Moor­wagen on January 29, 1886. Soon after that, the combus­tion engine was consid­ered supe­rior to the elec­tric motor. The batteries simply didn’t hold up long enough. In contrast, refilling with gaso­line was fast and cheap.

But 130 years after Benz’s patent, elec­tro­mo­bility is on the rise. It is expected to contribute to meeting ambi­tious world­wide climate targets. To make sure that elec­tric vehi­cles can take their place on the roads, they will need better batteries that can be recharged faster.

“The only way to charge used to be the house­hold elec­tric socket. It could take half a day before the batteries were full.”

Kai Schö­nen­berg, sales team leader at EBG compleo GmbH

In Lünen, a city in the German state of North Rhine-West­phalia, Kai Schö­nen­berg is looking forward to this devel­op­ment. He is the sales team leader at EBG compleo GmbH, respon­sible for selling charging stations — the gas stations of the future. “We intro­duced our first charging station in 2009. Now there are almost 6,000 of our charging points in use throughout Europe,” says Schö­nen­berg. Though it is still rela­tively new to the busi­ness, EBG compleo is now among the leaders in the sector. The company is a subsidiary of the EBG Group, which has been making distri­b­u­tion cabi­nets for over 60 years. The cabi­nets are designed for outdoor use and made of a special plastic that can with­stand any weather. “In prin­ciple, charging stations are just outdoor power distrib­u­tors. Since we already had the know-how, getting into this market seemed like the obvious thing to do,” says Schö­nen­berg.

From socket to quick charger

The EBG Group

The company was founded in 1948 in Lünen, north of Dort­mund. It special­izes in the produc­tion of distri­b­u­tion cabinet hous­ings. In 2009, the EBG Group entered the charging station busi­ness and founded EBG compleo GmbH for that purpose. The company develops and produces the charging stations and also offers service and main­te­nance pack­ages. Customers include munic­i­pal­i­ties, elec­tric util­i­ties, car-sharing busi­nesses and private compa­nies such as banks.

Besides the range of a charged battery, the time it takes charge one is the main obstacle for accep­tance of elec­tric cars. “The only way to charge used to be the house­hold elec­tric socket, which can only deliver up to 3.7 kilo­watts. It could take half a day before the batteries were full,” says Schö­nen­berg. That’s no way to fill up quickly. The new CITO DC quick charging station is closing in on this target. It can completely recharge an empty battery with a capacity of 25 kilo­watt-hours in about half an hour. “In prac­tice, drivers only charge as much as they actu­ally need. Then five to ten minutes of charging time is enough for the next few kilo­me­ters.”

But how does a charging station actu­ally work ? In the company parking lot, Schö­nen­berg points to a plain, slender pillar. “Many people wonder how it’s possible to pack so much perfor­mance into such a tight space,” he says, pointing to an unob­tru­sive cable distri­b­u­tion cabinet about twenty meters away. “We’ve sepa­rated the inter­face unit from the power unit. Other­wise the oper­a­tors would have to post huge boxes weighing up to 500 kilo­grams by the side of the road.”

“Drivers need to be sure that the charging station will work. There’s no gas can for an elec­tric vehicle.”

Kai Schö­nen­berg, sales team leader at EBG compleo GmbH

Contin­uing with his demon­stra­tion, Schö­nen­berg holds his customer card up to the charging station, pulls out the plug and inserts it into the socket in his company car. The charging process begins and Schö­nen­berg walks over to the distri­b­u­tion cabinet. “When one or more vehi­cles are connected to the charging station, of course the power elec­tronics generate a lot of heat that has to be dissi­pated effi­ciently. EBG compleo’s tech­nology uses air cooling to prevent over­heating. Drivers need to be sure that the charging station will work. There’s no gas can for an elec­tric vehicle.”

Quiet neigh­bor­hood

The chal­lenge during devel­op­ment was to develop a cooling system that didn’t need much space. So the engi­neers at EBG compleo chose two EC centrifugal fans from ebm-papst for their solu­tion. “They’re not only compact and very reli­able, they’re also extremely quiet. An impor­tant aspect since some charging stations are in resi­den­tial areas,” says Schö­nen­berg. The CITO is much quieter than required by noise abate­ment regu­la­tions. The fans can also be controlled as needed and only run when they are actu­ally needed for cooling. “Our customers like the charging stations,” says Schö­nen­berg and points to a couple of office containers. “We can’t build fast enough to keep up with our growth.” 

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Centrifugal fans

Centrifugal fans with forward curved blades