A hybrid bus capable of going all-electric has recently debuted in Sweden.
At first glance, the vehicle dubbed the "Arctic Whisper" doesn't seem much different than other hybrids. It motors along using an e-Traction converted Volvo 7700 hybrid diesel engine powered by a 100kWh Li-Ion batteries. But unlike other hybrids, it's refueled at an overhead charging station called Bůsbaar, which allows for wireless recharging in about five minutes.
This unique transportation system, developed by green technology firm Opbrid, offers certain key advantages. Instead of simply milking the stored energy from an overnight recharging session, the Arctic Whisper can be quickly juiced up again at a designated charging station each time it reaches the end of the route. The rapid recharging technology helps to ensure that the bus stays on schedule, while the ability to frequently refuel enables the vehicle to stay in "battery dominant" mode. This is an operational state in which it runs entirely on battery power, with the diesel generator turned off.
The company states that the frequent recharging system stretches the vehicle's battery-operated run time from 2 hours a day to about 18.
Of course there are always unforeseen circumstances like car accidents, traffic jams, or occasional problems caused by bad weather, in which case, the bus switches to the backup diesel generator. But even taking this into account, the company expects it to be running emissions-free nearly 100 percent of the time.
Other benefits, according to Opbrid, include:
- Electric motors providing up to 90% efficiency compared to the 25-35 percent efficiency of Internal combustion engines.
- Lower operating costs. For instance, it costs between seven and eight euros for 4 to 5 liters of diesel to go 10km. By comparison, it costs about 1 to 2 euros for 10 to 20 kWh worth of electricity to go the same distance.
- No pollution.
- No noise. The "e-Traction" wheel motors are probably the quietest bus motors in the world.
- Small infrastructure investment. The Opbrid Bůsbaar charging station can be shared by multiple buses for low overall cost.
- No overhead wires.
Testing of the first bus and charging station has already begun in the city of Umeå and will continue throughout the summer. If successful, the city may end up fielding an entire fleet of hybrid buses by the year 2014.
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