By Ami Cholia
Posting in Energy
Japanese researchers are working on electric roadways that could charge a car while it's in motion.
Electric cars currently in the market are limited by their range and charging times. But now researchers at Toyota Central R&D Labs and Toyohashi University of Technology think they may have come up with a solution that will allow electric cars to drive unlimited distances - electrified roadways.
While the idea of electrifying roadways has been mulled for decades -- previous efforts have included attempts to charge coils attached to a car through electrified coils placed on the road -- this technology would allow energy to enter a car through its tires (which makes far more sense considering it's unreasonable to expect coils in a moving car to perfectly align. Tires, on the other hand, have direct contact with the road).
Electrified metal plates buried under the streets would send energy via a radio frequency to a steel belt inside a car’s tires, as well as to a plate sitting above the tire, Fast Company reports.
The Toyohashi Newsletter says, "The source of energy from power lines is up-converted into radio frequency (RF) by high-speed inverters implanted along tracks in the road. The RF voltage is applied to a balanced metal track embedded under the surface of the road. The EV picks up the RF voltage via electrical capacitance between the metal and a steel belt installed inside of the tires of the EV."
While the tests have only been used on low voltages, researchers believe energy transfer onto a running automobile is feasible and can provide enough power to run a standard electric car. In the long run, the set-up would allow electric vehicles to use smaller battery packs as well, considering they could get their remaining power from the electrified highways.
The concept does raise some concerns about the expense and time that is required to dig up roads to install the infrastructure or from the dangers to the public caused by stepping on an electrified metal strip -- but a version of the the idea is currently being implemented at Boston’s Logan Airport, so we'll wait and see what the outcome is.
Sep 20, 2011
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that is innovative, clever and simply smart business minds. I can only wonder how can one come up with such ideas. http://www.national.co.uk/branch-590-Leeds-(Gelderd-Road-LS12).aspx
Ami Cholia has a wonderful idea. I have shared a similar idea, but had no place to air it. I am disappointed by all the short-sighted negative responses. The idea I have would use magnetic coupling from the road to the vehicle. The car would pass over a continual coil in the roadway. The roadway would either propel or charge the car battery while traveling. The roadway would be like a toll road. You have to pay to use the roadway and the power. Cars that have limited electric range would get on this road and go the distance to the destination city. They would leave the roadway and continue, using the onboard battery power. While off the roadway, they would be a [more] conventioal plug-in car. This way, one could have a limited-range plug-in city car to do most of the driving that most of us do. This same car would be able to make longer trips and be an in-town car for their new location. The idea has significant merit. There are lots of considerations to work out. Engineering and pilot testing would work toward a complete workable solution.
Forget about electrifying the roadway. Just magnetize the asphalt and put pickup coils in the tires. As the car moves along the road, the tires generate current from moving through the magnetic field. The faster you go, the more electricity you create, so you'll be fully recharged by the time you speed home from work. There would be less roadkill, too, because the magnetic field would heal the injured animals! ;-)
Evidently the folks at Toyota have forgotten to keep things SIMPLE. The less moving parts, the better. Anyone remember when the 'slotted' race tracks went slotless? Go to that principle with ceramic roadways and have a 'sweeper' every 50 vehicles to keep the debris down. They have forgotten about expansion/contraction, the 'slippage' of the land mass in particular areas, as well as the occasional lightening strike that would knock out not only the roadbed system but also the vehicles. What do engineers learn in school these days; apparently they did not take any Physics classes. Back to the drawing boards people and get a proper education....
If you think this Idea is a Nanny State implementation, think of the ongoing support of the oil industry. I think this will bring about a move to smart highways and additional drive by wire technology...oh and it cant be out-sourced we would have to build it! How about generating the power for the system by solar tech...and locally located wind.
We can't even keep pot-holes filled on our roadways! I can't imagine where we're going to get the money to do this! Especially not for less than .01% of the total amount of roadway miles being driven by electric cars! And especially since electric cars (and hybrids) use less gasoline, they pay less in taxes....Yeah...this is not a very well thought out idea indeed!
Great idea! How about adding speed control ability to the roadway system and we would all be much safer!!!
If we do something like this, can't we setup something in it to get the cars and trucks to use this system to drive themselves around too? Then we could turn this into a kind-of private public transportation system. They say that even the coal powered energy is cleaner and more efficient than using gasoline powered cars, and hopefully people will come to their senses and start using more cleaner energy concepts, like wind farms and natural gas. They managed to spend money creating the system we use today almost a half-century ago, can't people invest in something that will up the economy, produce jobs, and eventually make nearly everything cheaper and cleaner? The trick is getting around the people who just want everything to stay exactly the way it is when the system gives them what they want.
An interesting concept indeed. However, there are many questions that must be asked. Can we afford to tear up and rebuild roads to accommodate this technology? Probably not. What is the source of this power? Coal? Oil? Nuclear? Not that much hydro-electic power around. It's not really replacing oil or coal; is it? The ideas need to be planned in a "cradle to grave" fashion. Otherwise, we'll end up having another ethanol from corn situation .... far from the roaring success that had originally been envisioned. There are solutions that will be found; probably, though not based on the single user vehicle concept, which by nature is flawed.
I see too many questions. Will such technology work in the rain? What about areas where snow and ice and flood waters etc cover the roads. What if tires are dirty/or muddy. Will energy still transfer? Many cars have systems where a charge is sent to battery every time someone hits the brakes. Also what about using audio sounds to help charge the battery as they do with cell phones and other such devices. Even if EV engines are quiet - the sound of tires on the road can help there. I just don't see this being viable option for atleast the next 10 yrs.
To say that cars could use smaller battery packs because roads would convey power is quite "short" sighted. Unless the distance between such charged roads were tiny, we would still need significant range from the batteries alone. Further, the danger to people and wildlife from exposed charging rails is not negligible. Additionally, as anyone who has traveled in North America knows, most roads are routinely ripped up and rebuilt - with the anticipated added cost of replacing major power-bearing infrastructure. Engine-sized nuclear reactors are a better bet than this. http://iheardacouplethings.blogspot.com
Put slot car tracks on the freeways (where pedestrians are banned), and then small batteries can take care of the shorter trips off the freeways. Paying for use would be simple with new smart meters transmitting usage to the power company. synchronous motors with AC power could control speed and the tracks control direction. Simply get on the highway and connect and go to sleep with a GPS alarm to wake you when you need to disconnect and move to local roads at your destination.
This is wonderful. And I hope we see this in our lifetime. Large cities should take note. But, let's take California, which cannot pay its bills and and has a crumbling infrastructure. The optimist in me says let's replace the current highway infrastructure with this rather than repair and rebuild. But with literally every aspect of the state broken and bankrupt, will th Legislators on the take from the status quo contractors ever take this seriously? Not in our lifetime.
Since it's RF, will there be communication built in, so that the provider be able to limit power to subscribers? Alternatively, if anyone can use it, who pays? The other problem is that (it seems to me) a system like this is equivalent to leaving your cell-phone charger plugged in all of the time. Electricity is being consumed even when it isn't being used, because the load is there whether anyone is recharging or not. Perhaps those issues can be worked out. As a subscriber starts down the road, the system begins to provide power along the vehicle's path, and only as it approaches the next underground plate is that plate charged. There are certainly a lot of routes to practical electric vehicles being explored! My personal bet is on batteries that will allow a 1000 mile or more range, but that are no larger than the current battery packs.
@Suncat2000 Excellent idea, of course we also would have to remember of putting in a safeguard to keep the motors from trying to reach for infinity; remember our history and physics lessons. KC
If you combine slot-cars with autopilot, cars could platoon very close together at high speeds to take advantage of the decreased wind resistance.
Or doesn't get. The people of the state chose to start not paying their bills with Proposition 13, and have continued down that road until they have finally "prop'ed" themselves against the wall.