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Road building and EVs

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Feb 18, 2022
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The current rage for charging EVs is using in road or over road chargers, so that you never have to stop to charge the batteries, and in fact you don’t need much battery as the system is envisioned by many.

Both systems have analogs in the railroad industry with Overhead catenary ~98% and third rail ~92% efficient. Much of the difference in voltage (25KV vs. 750V).

For EVs the idea is to install inductive coils continuously in each lane, if the chargers are installed to provide the maximum power transfer the EV needs to stay within roughly 7 inches of the center of the lane.

The first question that comes to mind is do you install in intersections, on and off ramps and other areas like this where the electrical infrastructure become complex, or only in the driving lanes?

Inroad it is potholes – if the coils are exposed by potholes or failing surfaces? If the end of a coil is exposed, how to you keep it erupting and causing damage or shorting the lane out for some distance?

For overhead catenary it is height and voltage – Higher voltages are much easier to create and maintain, lower losses, and higher efficiency in transfer. They require less in the way of substations and connections to the grid. For height – what is safe for people and animals, and what is also the right height to avoid high vehicle issues, but minimize tall electrode whips that reach to the lines?

Many practical issues are still open on charging while moving, and little discussion about the issues, and practical solutions have been discussed.

If we are going to provide in route charging this discussion needs to accelerate.

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David Schaller's picture
David Schaller on Feb 22, 2022

You raise interesting questions. The US struggles to properly maintain roads and bridges. Yesterday a news story popped that there is discussion of suspending the gas taxes since fuel prices have risen so high. That would mean even less funding to maintain our infrastructure.

As far as wireless charging goes, I'd like to see it inductive charging in rest stops and other similar areas. It isn't dynamic, but it should be a more maintainable system for at least the short run if not longer.

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