Electric buses are one of the options for lowering the degree of air pollution in cities, though it is difficult to implement for crowded cities due to the problem of finding installed locations for charging stations. To make the charging of the buses easier, one possible solution is to install automatic charging roads. Tel Aviv, the most populous city in Israel, is currently experimenting on a project after Sweden regarding the paving of electric wires below the asphalt road surfaces that charge electric buses wirelessly and automatically.
This project is a collaborative effort between the Municipality of Tel Aviv, the Israeli company ElectReon that is responsible for developing and implementing the wireless road system, and the bus company Dan, who is also a part owner of ElectReon. The project of automatic charging road is simple: copper wires are paved under the asphalt road surface, and a special receiver for power is installed at the bottom of the bus to directly transmit electricity to the engine and battery of the bus. ElectReon claims that the lifespan for this system is expected to be 40 years under proper maintenance.
This project allows instantaneous charging for buses without having to stop, and facilitates continuous operation for buses with no idling time, though the buses would have to be installed with auxiliary batteries since rapid acceleration or going uphill require power obtained through wireless charging. However, a large battery is not required to be installed within the compartment, which can be used for other purposes.
The coverage pointed out that the testing location is at the 2-km road between the Tel Aviv University railway station and the Klatzkin terminal in Ramat Gan, and the actual length of the installed cable is merely 600m. Power transmission will reduce air pollution and noise within the city, and helps facilitate the transition to a green transportation method. The Municipality of Tel Aviv will consider expanding on the installation should the testing succeeds. As claimed by ElectReon, Tel Aviv is the first city in the world to be applying such technology on public routes in a substantial scale, and the company is also implementing similar testing in Germany right now.
Sweden was actually the first country to experiment on the paving of automatic charging roads, and aims to achieve zero fossil fuel in all transportation infrastructures by 2030, with existing road traffic occupying 1/3 of the total carbon emission of the country. The automatic charging road paved by Sweden measures at 1.2km in length, though it is more of a design of slot car instead of wireless charging, where the moveable arm on the vehicle declines from the bottom of the vehicle and gets inserted into the track when the detector of the vehicle or truck detects the electrified track upon close proximity, and automatically retracts when changing lanes. The automatic charging road of Sweden is currently used by cargo trucks over a trial period of 2 years in order to ensure operation under various climate conditions and normal road conditions.
A road that charges electric vehicles while moving has always been the grail of electric vehicles, though the analysis of autoevolution believes that underground cables must be paved beneath the road surface regardless of technology, which alone induces significantly high cost, thus similar testing will have to eventually prove that it is a worthy long-term investment.
(Cover photo source: Flickr/GeorgeDement CC BY 2.0)