Juiced roads: Volvo explores electric power for trucks, buses

Jun 18, 2013 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) —How are engineers doing in solving the problem of large-sized all electric transport vehicles traveling long distances without the burden of large batteries? One workaround that has been the topic of much discussion is the use of power lines that are built into the surface of the road. The Volvo Group has issued its state of progress and says it has come a long way in its research but that there's still work and planning decisions ahead. The goal is to find a cost-efficient way to supply electricity to vehicles in long-distance traffic. Work continues on technical development of the collector, electric motor and control systems, not to mention issues of road construction, road maintenance, electricity supply along the roads and payment models. Translation: You won't see long-distance buses using this method any time soon.

The Volvo Group nonetheless cannot stop its research momentum for a sustainable transport solution to a problem of a long distance vehicle obtaining its while on the road.

A plug-in bus equipped with battery is all well and good if it can be charged quickly when the buses are at but that is not the scenario for long-distance hauls where stops are not frequent. To cope with the task, say experts, they would need so many batteries that there would be no room for any passengers. The Volvo Group is engaged in a Swedish research project to find solutions for this, with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency. The project includes the Swedish Transport Administration, Vattenfall, several universities, and suppliers.

They are working on a method where power is continuously supplied to the vehicle from an external source—in the form of power lines built into the surface of the road. Along with a power and transport firm, Alstom, the company built a 400 meter-long track at a facility in Hällered near Gothenburg. They are testing a special collector fitted to a truck. The collector draws power from the rails installed into the road surface.

Specifically, two are built into the surface of the road along the entire length of the road. The power line is designed in sections; live current is delivered to a collector under or at the rear of the truck if an appropriate signal is detected.

According to Richard Sebestyen, project manager at Volvo Group Trucks Technology, the electricity flows into a water-cooled heating element, with similar power requirement as an electricity-driven truck.

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More information: via Volvo

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User comments : 12

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PPihkala
1 / 5 (6) Jun 18, 2013
I think there will be LENR based motive power plants installed in vehicles in the future which will make these road trains obsolete. But that fate also belongs to current fossil fuel consuming ICEs too.
packrat
2 / 5 (7) Jun 18, 2013
These power strips are a liability lawyers dreams come true..........
freethinking
1 / 5 (6) Jun 18, 2013
All I can say is someone will short circuit this idea very quickly.
packrat
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2013
or figure out how to charge their e-car for free.......
KeithMcC
3 / 5 (2) Jun 18, 2013
It may discourage jay-walking, Doesn't mention the voltage.
Kiwini
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 19, 2013
And the first motorcycle or bicycle rider that crashes on those broad metal rails has my blessing to sue Volvo for being so short-sighted, ie: intentionally placing ANY continuous slippery surface (or in this case, two) on public roadways will be resurrected for decades as an example of painfully obvious unintended consequences. If a way to cover the conductors with normal pavement is not found, this concept should never be used in the field.

It's no wonder that Ogri hates Volvos...
Matthewwa25
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2013
Building bullet trains that are ran on batteries makes far more sense. ;)
Egleton
2 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2013
Just over the road the hot cat has been confirmed by a Swedish team. I think that the arrangement offered here is just to distract the competitors from the real game in town.
Bringing back the steam powered truck.
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2013
Lots of nonsense being posted, here.
These power strips are a liability lawyers dreams come true..

It may discourage jay-walking, Doesn't mention the voltage.

The sections are only live when a truck is over them (plainly stated in the article). So if electrocution is ever an issue then you have already been run over by a truck.

All I can say is someone will short circuit this idea very quickly.

That wouldn't affect much, as it would only short circuit a minute stretch. You can prevent even THAT by sending a low voltage test spike before applying full juice when a truck drives over it (in case of a short circuit simply not activating that part). Trucks will have to carry a minimum of batteries in any case to drive around sections that are being maintained - which means they can cope with the occasional off-line section.

figure out how to charge their e-car

It activates on an signal. Unless you have that (and the hardware) - no dice.
Shootist
1 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2013
I suppose induction is just too inefficient until we develop really inexpensive electrical generation?

Anyone? Anyone?
packrat
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2013
Ap, just how long do you think it will take some bright person with electronics knowledge to figure out how to make it turn on? Once that is figured out the information will get out on the net and be available and idiots will be trying to charge their cars or just batteries from them. That's why I said it's a liability lawyers dream.... It doesn't matter that the idiots might be breaking the law while doing it. It's never stopped them or the liability lawyers before.....
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2013
just how long do you think it will take some bright person with electronics knowledge to figure out how to make it turn on?

Depending on the validation they use - forever (e.g. one-time-pad systems, while cumbersome to deploy, can't be broken).

In the easiest case of a static code specific to a truck. If you steal that code then you may be able to turn it on, but:
- you'd have to have a pickup system like a truck on your car - which is kind of suspicious and not cheap.
- your car needs to be able to handle the voltage (which will certainly be significantly higher than for E-cars, because trucks require quite a bit more juice)
- you'll only get to enjoy it for a day or so before landing in jail, because it will show up IMMEDIATELY on the balance of the truck owner. And by where you activated it it's exceedingly easy to track you down. From ethere (and the cameras posted along highways) it's a simple matter of getting a good mugshot.

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