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Sources of Power - Primove System

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Bombardier Primove - Power without Overhead Wire

Rail Transit Online, February 2009

Primove Illustration

An inductive traction power system that completely eliminates catenary and pantographs was unveiled by Bombardier Transportation at its test track in Bautzen, Germany, on Jan. 22 (inset). The contactless technology, installed on a Flexity LRV, has been dubbed "Primove."

It uses a magnetic field to transmit power from a primary circuit, built into the track infrastructure, to pick-up coils beneath a rail vehicle. This forms a secondary circuit that transforms the magnetic energy field into electricity.

The in-ground equipment is fully energized only when completely covered by the vehicle, eliminating danger to pedestrians and motor vehicles and insuring safe operation. The prototype provides sufficient power for a typical 98-ft.-long (30 meter) LRV operating at 25 mph (40 kph) on a six-percent grade.

More powerful versions are planned, and Bombardier says Primove could be market-ready in 2010 as a competitor to Alstom's APS system which is already operating in two French cities.

"The Primove technology is a unique system that provides complete catenary-free operation of trams over distances of varying lengths and in all surroundings," said Dr. Carsten Struve, director of advanced technology development for Bombardier Transportation. "Combined with the new Bombardier Mitrac Energy Saver technology, the Primove system can also save additional energy."

The Mitrac equipment is mounted on a vehicle's roof and uses a double layer of ultracapacitors to store braking energy for later use. The system has been tested in Mannheim, Germany, since 2003 and has resulted in energy savings of up to 30 percent, according to Bombardier. Mitrac can also add extra power during acceleration, boosting performance.


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