Many countries are opting to use sustainable methods of public transport, such as electric vehicles, to create a safer, healthier environment for their citizens. There are disadvantages of their use, however, such as the large batteries that are needed for their operation and the need to plug them in at charging stations. To avoid these inconveniences, the Israeli government is collaborating with ElectRoad to install roads which will charge electric buses on their journey, starting with one of Tel Aviv’s current bus routes.
ElectRoad is proposing to create a wireless system which will be economic enough to be adapted for cities worldwide. The company has no doubts that their ‘inductive charging’ technology is completely cost effective and allows buses to carry light, inexpensive batteries instead of the heavy ones currently equipping them. The buses will also be charged while on the go, eliminating the need for stationary periods to recharge. Once installed the infrastructure will be able to charge any vehicle which has a compatible battery.
The company demonstrated the technology at their headquarters in Caesarea, winning a $12,000 grant from Israel’s Ministry of Transport and Road Safety to help fund the installation of the new road. The route will be approximately 1/2 a mile in length and is expected to open in 2018. If it proves to be a worthwhile investment, the Israeli government plans to expand on the use of this technology. Other countries, including South Korea, have already installed several wireless bus routes. ElectRoad believes that their option is more affordable on a large scale, however, because of the cheaper transformers which are required and the shorter, more efficient installation process.
Induction charging is a process which has been used to create power sources since the 1890s and involves the creation of energy from the interaction of two electromagnetic fields. This will be the first time the technology will be applied to an item as large as a bus. Plates of copper will be embedded into the roads, which will be supplied with power from inverters placed along the sides. Copper plates will also be installed on the underside of the buses, allowing the two fields to interact as the buses drive over. The technology can be installed into existing roads with minor disruptions, and the buses will be able to travel off the charging road for about three miles. Each vehicle will be required to have a small battery onboard to facilitate acceleration, as well as travel outside the charging zone.
There are several disadvantages which have been raised about the installation of these roads, however, which ElectRoad are confident they will be able to overcome. This includes the fact that the buses might stray from the main strip or become misaligned. The batteries for electric vehicles are also becoming cheaper, lighter and more efficient. The company acknowledges that the prices of batteries have fallen significantly but also claim that their technology is to be used for citywide infrastructure on larger scales, and they remain optimistic about its expansion.