High performance DC lab opened by AIT

1st December 2021
Beatrice O'Flaherty

On 1 December, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology opened its new DC (direct current) lab at the Centre for Energy.

The state-of-the-art direct current laboratory marks a significant expansion of the current facilities at Austria’s largest research and technology organisation. The laboratory is primarily designed for customers in industry and research partners.

“This marks a further milestone in the development of the research infrastructure at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. The DC Lab is thus a unique facility in Europe. We are providing industry with extensive testing facilities for new developments in the field of direct current technologies,” explained AIT Managing Director, Anton Plimon.

Today, direct current technologies are used in fields such as renewable energy systems, for combining photovoltaics with batteries or hydrogen, in electrical systems of electric cars, and for the industrial-scale supply of power to facilities such as data centres.

Wolfgang Hribernik, Head of the Center for Energy: “At the Center for Energy we are developing solutions for future innovative energy supply. We offer our customers and partners high quality, specialised laboratory infrastructure for electric energy systems. For years, the research infrastructure for electrical engineering components provided by the High Power Laboratory and SmartEST lab has been the only one of its kind in Europe. Now the new DC lab offers a development and validation platform for DC components.”

Friederich Kupzog, Head of the Competence Unit for Electric Energy Systems at the Center for Energy: “There are very few comparable labs in Europe, and the new DC Lab enables us to assume a key role in significantly advancing DC innovations. We can support the development of new high performance switching devices for DC grids, for example, and technically characterise such new products under real conditions.”

The DC Lab services

The DC Lab is a development and validation platform for DC components for manufacturers and operators of DC systems. The lab supports each stage in the entire development process, from concept through to startup.

Typical applications include the testing of breaking capacity under operating conditions and short circuits, and short-time and surge current testing.

Facts, figures & dates

The DC lab was completed in October 2021, after only eleven weeks of construction.

The design and construction were hugely demanding due to the absence of similar facilities. AIT worked together with its committed partners to install 30 tonnes of steel and more than 50 tonnes of copper. The switchgear houses four special transformers which can be connected to create different testing scenarios. The total investment volume was EUR 3 million. The laboratory will start work in December 2021.

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