Paul Atherton - 5 benefits of DC-Hub

Five benefits of The Switch DC-Hub

Changing a ship’s power distribution from an AC grid to a DC grid is now the most viable option for efficient and sustainable power distribution. Yaskawa Environmental Energy / The Switch provides the marine industry with the smartest solution for a multi-megawatt DC power system – The Switch DC-Hub. What it delivers is fuel and cost savings along with reliability. Its scope includes power generation, energy storage, charging, propulsion power and clean power, making it a game changer for the future of shipping.

If your goal is to produce, transfer and consume energy in the most efficient way, here are 5 benefits The Switch DC-Hub brings to ships.

1) Meet emissions regulations

The International Marine Organization (IMO) has set tightening emissions regulations, which impact every player in the marine industry. The Switch DC-Hub is a solution to tackle this challenge. With the DC-Hub, dual-fuel vessels can cut down on fuel consumption and emissions through peak shaving by stabilizing the loads in rough seas. The DC-Hub also makes it possible to run on only one genset and batteries, further slashing fuel consumption and emissions. In addition to this, ships that sail in emission-regulated harbors can sail on only batteries for a period, until they’re far out at sea, and only then start their engines.

2) Save money and space onboard

The DC-Hub provides cost savings and saves space onboard, both in initial system installment and in the long run. By not having to install a lot of auxiliary equipment, such as transformers and AC switchboards, space onboard and money can be saved. Fuel consumption is also reduced. Peak shaving also decreases long-term costs by lengthening maintenance intervals on rotating equipment.

3) Enable silent operations

With the DC-Hub, ships can sail on batteries alone, and sail with the engines turned off. This creates silent operations suitable for harbors, for example.

4) Future-proof vessels

The Switch DC-Hub solution adds longevity to vessels because any power source can be connected to the system. This means that in the future, as new power sources become more efficient and are installed, they too can be connected to the DC-Hub and reap its benefits.

5) Provide redundancy with the Electronic Bus Link (EBL) breaker

Pairing The Switch DC-Hub with our unique Electronic Bus Link (EBL) allows each DC-Hub to work independently. In only 10 microseconds, the EBL cuts and isolates any possible error in the system, creating ultra-safe redundancy for the vessel.

Design specifics

The Switch DC-Hub is made up of several independent Power Drive units, which are inverter and rectifier modules based on IGBT technology. These modules are identical building blocks that are stacked in parallel to achieve the desired power.

DC-Hubs can be installed onboard as either a retrofit or as an original design. Each Power Drive unit is connected to the ship’s DC link, with each assigned a separate load or source function. This means that one can carry the DC voltage and another can run other different connected loads. Batteries can also serve in source or load mode, depending on whether the system is draining the batteries or charging them. The DC-Hub ensures that the change between different modes is seamless, without requiring any action from the crew.

The inverter and rectifier modules are directly water-cooled with no external fans. The cooling system can be connected to the plant’s cooling system with flexible hoses. Internal air-to-water fans are mounted to reduce the internal power cabinet temperature.

The cabinets are manufactured from stainless steel, with vibration dampers between the cabinets and foundation. Rectifier and inverter modules are extractable with heavy-duty plug connectors, making the DC-Hub system very flexible.