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Sweden Tests World's First Electric Road For Trucks (inhabitat.com) 106

Kristine Lofgren writes: Electric vehicles are cool, but for industrial vehicles it can be a challenge to get very far on just electric power. That's why Sweden is testing out an electric road where e-vehicles can jump on, get juiced while they travel, and get back on the road. The country just opened a two kilometer test stretch in Sandviken on the E16 where electric vehicles can connect to an overhead system that is very similar to light rail. It's another exciting step towards a fossil fuel-free Sweden. Trucks can use the electric power while riding on the special electric road system -- on regular roads they operate as hybrid vehicles. The testing is scheduled to take place until 2018, which should give the country enough time to see how the technology functions in the real world. Sweden's energy and sustainable growth agencies will fund the project in addition to the transport administration.
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Sweden Tests World's First Electric Road For Trucks

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  • One place you can't drive to on that road ... the UK!

    LOL

  • Congratulations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bloke down the pub ( 861787 ) on Saturday June 25, 2016 @03:25AM (#52387277)

    Congratulations. You have invented the train.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by M8e ( 1008767 )
      Trains need rails. This is just a trolleybus(or trolleytruck)/battery hybrid.

      It's just like a plug-in hybrid, but instead of having to stop and plug into a socket these trucks can just drive through these special stretches of road.

      You get about 1 minute of "fast-charge" per mile.
    • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AndrewBuck ( 1120597 ) on Saturday June 25, 2016 @04:16AM (#52387351)

      Actually I have been wondering for a long time why trains don't do exactly what these trucks are doing. Many (most?) trains now (at least around here in the US) are deisel-electric with a deisel engine running an on-board generator to make electricity for the wheels. If you had retractable electrical things on the top of the engine to connect to overhead wires you could use grid electricity for the steep grades and other fuel demanding portions of the trip (like the first couple miles out of major rail yards where you are still getting up to speed) and then spin up the diesel as you get into the long stretches of mainline where you only need to overcome air and rolling resistance which are both minimal for a train.

      In addition to this you could do regenerative breaking on these same stretches of tracks to feed power back into the grid when slowing down. Many locomotives already use electrical generators in the wheels (basically just using the motors as generators) as this avoids wear on the wheels and brakes by avoiding the older mechanical brakes. However on long down grades they still have to use the mechanical brakes since they have no way to get rid of the excess energy; the electrical generator brakes just heat up an onboard tank of water which can only take so much heating before they have to fall back to the mechanical brakes.

      So basically all of the things you need to do a hybrid system like this are already onboard a modern locomotive, the only thing missing is the wires above the tracks and the thing on top of the locomotive to connect to them. The thing on top would be a very small cost to add, the wires would be a lot more expensive per mile, however you can choose which sections of rail to electrify since you are going for a hybrid approach which lets you only electrify the most beneficial parts of the rail network.

      Overall I think it is a very good idea and I am surprised I have not seen it implemented or at least discussed. Maybe I am missing something but it seems like it would work well. I guess the main issue would be the large power surge to the grid from regenerative braking and the huge temporary draw when getting up to speed but it seems like this would be addressable without too much difficulty.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Actually I have been wondering for a long time why trains don't do exactly what these trucks are doing. Many (most?) trains now (at least around here in the US) are deisel-electric with a deisel engine running an on-board generator to make electricity for the wheels. If you had retractable electrical things on the top of the engine to connect to overhead wires you could use grid electricity for the steep grades and other fuel demanding portions of the trip (like the first couple miles out of major rail yards where you are still getting up to speed) and then spin up the diesel as you get into the long stretches of mainline where you only need to overcome air and rolling resistance which are both minimal for a train.

        It's more expensive then the current system and there's no incentive to do so because of other issues. You're talking about laying thousands of miles of electric lines and in some cases you then run into issues requiring environmental impact studies, complaints from NIMBY's and so on. This has actually been tested in the past and was found infeasible. On top of that most diesel engines in use today are DC output only, and unless you're then dumping more equipment onto the engine to make a conversion fro

        • most diesel engines in use today are DC output only

          This is done through rectification, so the equipment is already on board. The generator is definitely AC.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Japan't rail network is mostly electrified and the trains are electric only. There is a bit more up-front investment but it quickly pays off. It's much better for urban environments in particular, and of course the underground.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Japan is smaller than California. http://mapfight.appspot.com/jp... [appspot.com] It would be a good deal more than a little bit of up front investment. A better choice might be to power them with natural gas or even hydrogen. It is not like you would have to worry about tank size.

          • by GNious ( 953874 )

            I've noticed that there's a lot of things America cannot do because it is larger than e.g. individual European countries. Thinking the individual states should figure out some of the infrastructure, they are separately small enough to be able to do stuff ...

      • by Alsn ( 911813 )
        A lot of countries already do as you suggest, Sweden included. However, from what I understand there's a problem in the US in that trains often load with double stacked containers, increasing the total height of trains. This makes it infeasible to electrify your rails due to the overhead wires needing to go too high up. In order to electrify, you would have to also switch out a lot of train cars.

        Overall though, electric trains are cheaper and more powerful if the infrastructure is there and most concerns ab
      • "Actually I have been wondering for a long time why trains don't do exactly what these trucks are doing. Many (most?) trains now (at least around here in the US) are deisel-electric with a deisel engine running an on-board generator to make electricity for the wheels."

        I could be wrong, but I believe that Amtrak, LIRR, MetroRail do that for traffic in and out of NYC using diesel where electricity isn't available and switching to electric under Manhattan. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • Most trains in Europe (local and intercity) are electric. Only in the US is this considered novel.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Amtrak's Acela service uses an overhead caternary cable system running from Boston to DC.

        The reason it's not used elsewhere is that in most places intercity train traffic doesn't have its own tracks; they use spare capacity on freight tracks. You need 20 feet track clearance for a double-stacked container train, and high speed rail power lines are typically about 5m above the track-- about a meter shy of that. In some places in the Northeast corridor there's just barely enough room to squeeze a double sta

      • The problem is where to put the energy. The amount of energy recovered from a large train is just too large to store. So hybrid locomotives are used for switching, where the amount of energy is smaller.

        Trains don't need additional power to climb grades, they just slow down. To go the same speed would requires not just more energy (fuel or electricity input) but more powerful electric motors to turn that energy into torque. And they just don't have those bigger motors. If they did, they'd just bring along a

      • by pkphilip ( 6861 )

        Take a look at this.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Congratulations. You have invented the train.

      Yeah. Why reinvent something that works? It seems like it might be good way to power large trucks. A good use case would be a road between a mine and a port. Roads are a lot cheaper to build than railways and can be built more rapidly.

      The other obvious way of building an electric road is to put conductors in the road itself. This could work for regular cars as well as trucks and buses. These people are working on that: http://elways.se/?lang=en [elways.se]

    • Rubber tired trains, that can leave their "tracks" like any hybrid truck.

    • Congratulations. You have invented the train.

      What I find really interesting is not the linked article itself, but the one right below it on Scania's new inductively-charged bus.If we can inductively supply power to buses, why can't we supply power to trains in the same way, even if just for urban light rail? Getting rid of the pantographs and that nineteenth-century tangle of overhead wires would make mass transit cheaper and more esthetically acceptable.

      • Congratulations. You have invented the train.

        What I find really interesting is not the linked article itself, but the one right below it on Scania's new inductively-charged bus.If we can inductively supply power to buses, why can't we supply power to trains in the same way, even if just for urban light rail? Getting rid of the pantographs and that nineteenth-century tangle of overhead wires would make mass transit cheaper and more esthetically acceptable.

        The cost per km of track would be prohibitively high. It's cheaper to just use conductive propulsion with a third rail divided into isolated sections that power up when a rail vehicle passes over them.

        Google "catenary free tram" for examples.

    • Almost: they invented fragile bumper cars.
    • by pkphilip ( 6861 )

      In Nancy, France, there are already trams which run on pneumatic tires and which connect to overhead cables. So I don't really see what was supposedly invented here.

  • This would also work for cars and would make electric cars a lot more practical. If you genuinely want to slow atmospheric CO2 buildup electrified highways powered by modern nuclear power plants (fission or fusion when available) is the only practical solution until or unless entirely new science is discovered. Combined with hyperloop vacuum tunnels for some stretches with compatible vehicles and this could be what our ground transportation might look like in 2116. Although I'd like to think that vacuum tun

    • It surely is an interesting application of graph theory, trying to find out a where to put these circuits to maximize their usefulness.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      this is the future and for cars too (...) This would also work for cars and would make electric cars a lot more practical.

      There's nothing even remotely practical about a complicated and expensive system to hook up cars to an overhead grid while driving at 50+ mph. Right now they're busy making the cars like the Tesla model 3 but I'm pretty sure that when they get a breather they'll design two forms of trailer range extenders:

      a) Huge battery that can do on the road charging
      b) Generator trailer that can do on the road charging

      And since this would be a custom car accessory with a wired connection it could integrate with cameras/s

  • Being tested in sw London. Buses have recharging zones under vehicle at stops and traffic lights. No need to plug anything in.

    On a side note isn't an electric road basically a tram line?

  • get juiced while they travel

    Now that sounds like an innovation I can get behind.

  • How do you prevetn people form tampering with the road?

You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough. -- Joseph E. Levine

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