Several Authorities are procuring Hybrid Streetcars with OESS. The energy storage system needs to be protected from ground faults, external and internal to the vehicle. A Hybrid Streetcar has an OESS consisting of either Lithium Batteries or super capacitors, with an OESS converter connected to, or integrated with, the Traction Inverter. During a ground fault of the high voltage circuit, the freewheeling diode in an OESS charger creates a fault path between the energy storage elements and ground.

Typical vehicle designs use a fuse for catastrophic protection, depending on the vehicle ground fault scheme for detection and protection. The vehicle’s primary ground fault detection device is an HSCB, usually connected between the shop switch and traction inverter; the auxiliary inverter is typically protected using a fuse. An HSCB is able to protect typical fault currents seen within the traction chain, but is not designed for OESS fault currents. If a fault occurs the fuse for the catastrophic protection of the OESS will blow before the HSCB will trip, potentially damaging equipment, making the vehicle inoperable. This paper compares alternative methods which can be deployed to detect and protect the OESS from a ground fault.

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