Company to install wireless inductive charging strips along Tel Aviv route
It’s long been the futuristic dream, but wireless-charging roads may soon be powering electric buses and cars as they travel down the street.
The Israeli government is collaborating with local start-up ElectRoad to install its technology on a public bus route in Tel Aviv. The system is essentially a length of coils which can provide a constant electricity to a receiver mounted on a vehicle. The company says that the system allows EVs to run without the added weight of large battery packs, and will reduce range anxiety – provided the users don’t stray from the charging strips for too long.
ElectRoad says installation of the strips are straightforward and that 1 km of road can be in place in just half a day. An asphalt scraper digs an 8-centimeter-deep trench, while a second vehicle installs the wireless energy charging strips and fills the trench back up behind.
Smart inverters with real-time communication are installed on the sides of the road. A coil unit attached beneath the electric vehicle receives power transferred over a 24cm air gap. The company says its buses can operate for around 3 miles/5km without charging from the strip.
ElecTrans has not seen any comment from the company the rate of power transfer, only that it notes that “Radiation is minimized and locally shielded for driver and passenger safety.”
Test deployments are encouraging, but it may be some time before a system such as this is proved commercially. “It’s exciting because it’s charging without wires,” Tim Cleary, director of BATTERY, an energy-storage research laboratory at Pennsylvania State University, told Scientific American. “But unless it’s affordable and cost-effective it’s not going to take off.”
Some kinks will need to be addressed too. Many inductive charging systems in use already must be positioned very precisely to work properly – something that is not always possible on a busy road in heavy traffic. Moreover, while ElecTrans sees the benefit of wireless charging, if cities wish to develop a bus and transport network that can only operate on set routes, they already have the (potentially cheaper) option of electric trams. The technology may therefore be of more use at discrete standing stations, as with ABB and Volvo’s OppCharge system.
The first Tel Aviv test route will be half a mile long, and will open by 2018 – after which we should get a clearer picture as to whether ElectRoad is on the right track.