Electroad to electric the bus systems in Israel, then the world

electroad_bus_dynamic_wireless_power_transfer“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!” Fans of the 1985 film “Back to the Future” watched the year 2015 slip from a promising future into a disappointing past with no sign of time travel, Mr. Fusion or flying cars.

And while hoverboards came surprisingly close to reality, even these require roads (of solid copper.) But rather than waiting for a roadless future, the inventors at Israel’s Electroad are working on the biggest road improvement since the Romans paved an empire.

Electroad’s visionaries ask us to imagine a pioneer in the old American west with a horse-drawn wagon stacked high with the hay necessary to feed the horses pulling the wagon. It sounds ridiculous, archaic, inefficient and… well, that’s exactly how our automobile transportation system works today.

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hyperloop-elon-muskCars carry the fuel that propels them. We don’t notice this with gasoline and diesel engines because these fuels can store a tremendous amount of energy per kilogram, more than 45 million Joules (10,000 kilocalories) per kilogram. While this isn’t the 1.21 Gigawatts necessary for time-travel in Doc Brown’s fictional DeLorean, it is about 50 times the amount of energy that can be stored in a kilogram of our best Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries.

So while electric cars have advantages in efficiency, reliability and environmental impact– up to one third of the weight of a typical electric car is the battery.

This explains why electric vehicle range tends to be lower than that of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. Do away with that heavy battery and imagine the acceleration, performance and efficiency of a powerful car with a light powerful motor. If you live in parts of the world served by trams and buses with overhead wires, you’ve seen one method for reducing the need for a battery.

Simply run high voltage wires along the road, over the road, just like the slot-cars we might have played with as children. But maintaining an electrical connection often requires unwieldy spring loaded devices, precise alignment and high voltage wires and rails that can be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists!

Electroad has a unique technological approach that they call a Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT) system. They envision electric vehicles without the need for a large battery, long charge cycles. The energy needed will be minimal due to the low vehicle weight.charging_lane

Recent Apple and Android phones, toothbrushes, electric razors, flashlights and even Skylanders light core toys, send electricity through the air by magnetic induction. The idea comes from a couple of basic laws of physics, change an electric current and that creates a changing magnetic field. Put that changing magnetic field near a wire and it will induce an electric current in the wire. So electricity moving through a coil of wire can induce a current in a nearby coil even without a physical connection.

Rather than relying on big batteries necessary to take you to the next charging station, Electroad intends to embed charging stations in the road so that you’re car is charging even while you drive it!

Powered coils beneath the road would accomplish this by inducing a current in coils attached to the bottom of the car. There are several challenges with this approach. One is an efficient way to embed and power the coils beneath the road, the other is alignment with the coils on the cars for maximum efficiency.

Another is the amount of energy that must be transferred during the brief moments the car passes over the coils. Electroad explains that the coils are switched on and off dynamically so that they don’t waste energy when cars aren’t nearby. While these challenges require some creative engineering, this is certainly a problem worth exploring. Electroad are looking for electrical engineers and a city whose visionaries are ready to test drive the future.

And if those induction coils are copper… who wants to be the first to skitch behind an electric car on a hoverboard? Great Scott!

Image of bus and DWPT system via www.electroad.me
Illustration of wireless charging lanes via www.shutterstock.com

About Brian Nitz

Brian remembers when a single tear dredged up a nation's guilt. The tear belonged to an Italian-American actor known as Iron-Eyes Cody, the guilt was displaced from centuries of Native American mistreatment and redirected into a new environmental awareness. A 10-year-old Brian wondered, 'What are they... No, what are we doing to this country?'From a family of engineers, farmers and tinkerers Brian's father was a physics teacher. He remembers the day his father drove up to watch a coal power plant's new scrubbers turn smoke from dirty grey-back to steamy white. Surely technology would solve every problem. But then he noticed that breathing was difficult when the wind blew a certain way. While sailing, he often saw a yellow-brown line on the horizon. The stars were beginning to disappear. Gas mileage peaked when Reagan was still president. Solar panels installed in the 1970s were torn from roofs as they were no longer cost-effective to maintain. Racism, public policy and low oil prices transformed suburban life and cities began to sprawl out and absorb farmland. Brian only began to understand the root causes of "doughnut cities" when he moved to Ireland in 2001 and watched history repeat itself.Brian doesn't think environmentalism is 'rocket science', but understanding how to apply it within a society requires wisdom and education. In his travels through Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, Brian has learned that great ideas come from everywhere and that sharing mistakes is just as important as sharing ideas.

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