World’s First as Sweden Gets First Road to Recharge Electric Trucks Driving on Them
The environmental benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) over conventional internal combustion vehicles is often championed – but when the subject of battery life and charging is raised, those voices often fall a little quieter. With a significant chunk of current EVs struggling with charging on the go, drivers are often forced to make, and stick to, elaborate plans which revolve around the battery life of their vehicle.
This isn’t a problem that is easy to solve – no matter how big the battery gets in a vehicle, there is only so much charge they can hold before they run out. Even the futuristic prospect of strategic intervals, and fuel stations, drivers could still have to contend with frustrating and unrealistic waiting times while their vehicle charges – as opposed to a quick pit stop at the local petrol station.
However, this latest solution from Sweden looks to fix that. An ambitious project has been unveiled where EVs will have the ability to charge themselves whilst moving on the road, removing the waiting times and reliance on one batteries worth of charge. The technology has currently only been implemented on a 1.25 mile stretch between the Stockholm Airport and a nearby logistics site.
“But what about pedestrians? Could they suffer from nasty shocks with a wrong step on the road?” we hear you ask, and the concept of having an electrified track on the road could be an unnerving one – however, the creators have insisted that due to the live electricity running “5 or 6 centimetres” below the road, and it only being reachable by a connector that protrudes from beneath the moving truck – much like a wall socket – there is no absolutely no risk.
Chairman of the eRoadArlanda consortium chairman, Hans Sall said of the project “The unique thing about this project is that it is the first one to be put on public roads. This is also the first road that provides for charging on the road and not through overhead wires. We are charging the track every 60 meters. It is only feeding on the raid when a vehicle authorized to pick out electricity moves over the road. Thus electricity is not turned on 24/7, but only when a vehicle is passing by.”
“Also, the rail is only electrified for 50 metres in front of the moving vehicle, and there is no electricity on the surface. We tested by flooding the road with salt water and measuring the electricity which was less than one volt. So you can go barefoot without any danger,” said Sall.
The current road serves as a demonstration stretch and has only had one modified truck move over it. Plans to extend the track for commercial purposes are now in the pipelines.
One of the crucial problems to be addressed, remains keeping the tracks usable under all possible conditions. “If you have gravel, leaves, or even snow in the track, most of it is cleaned by the connector itself. We know that in the winter time when we have a lot of snow packed in the tracks, we can sue standard plowing equipment on the road without any problem,” said Sall. “There is also a heating cable that will melt the snow and we have drainage every 40 metres on the rail, So we can handle this, but if needed, we have modified the standard maintenance equipment with brushes, a small plow and a vacuum pump.”
Concerns over feasibility of a connection between the track and a fast-moving vehicle being maintained, “There is a magnetic sensor built in the connector. It senses the rail automatically and goes down to connect and charge the vehicle. In the same way, it will go up if the truck leaves the track, without the driver doing anything,“ he said. As things stand, there are plans to extend the stretch with an additional 15 to 20 miles, with private companies which could be involved with the project.