On-the-go EV wireless charging for the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Wireless EV charging is finally hitting the nation’s highways, which could help solve the charging bottleneck as millions of EVs surge into the mass market. This also includes electric trucks and buses. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, for its part, is not meant to be caught napping. They’re already planning wireless EV charging on the go, with a bonus of solar power, to boot.

Wireless EV charging on the go, from Dream…

Clean Technica has been spilling ink here and there on wireless EV charging over the years, and it looks like all that hard work is finally going to pay off.

It’s been a long row to hoe. Ten years ago, in 2012, the US Department of Energy greased the wheels with a $4 million grant program for wireless on-road electric vehicle charging.

The grant program was intended to build on the R&D work of a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In September 2011, the team reported a system based on an air-core transformer, which is a device that transfers radio frequency currents.

“By reconfiguring the transformer and changing the resonant frequency, power is transferred to the battery with little energy loss and less demand on the primary circuit. The technology can be used to wirelessly charge stationary electric vehicles in garages and parking lots or moving vehicles on the roadway,” the team explained.

ORNL researchers also developed a suite of complementary technologies for their wireless electric vehicle charging device, including communication and feedback systems as well as hardware.

…to reality

Things started to take shape in August 2021, when the lab licensed its electromagnetic coil technology to Brooklyn-based HEVO.

“The system delivers the world’s highest power levels in the smallest package and could one day enable electric vehicles to be recharged while traveling at highway speeds,” ORNL explained, noting that the system is still under development.

The relatively small footprint is made possible by ORNL’s “Oak Ridge Converter”, which reduces the number of power stages required to perform the transfer. The result is a wireless electric vehicle charging system that delivers an area power density of 1.5 megawatts per square meter, which ORNL describes as “eight to 10 times higher than currently available technology.”

As HEVO envisions, wireless EV charging on the go would lead to a scenario where EV drivers arrive at their homes or other destinations with a fully charged battery, which they can deploy to power their devices. and other building systems.

“All of these features are packed into a vehicle-side package the size of an average pizza box and the out-of-the-box capability to charge electric vehicles without a human being behind the wheel,” enthused the Founder and CEO. of HEVO, Jeremy McCool.

More solar power for more EV charging

While all of this was going on, Pennsylvania Turnpike planners predicted a rapid increase in demand for electric vehicle charging stations along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. In total, the main line stretches 359 miles between Ohio and New Jersey. With the entire length of Pennsylvania in the middle, the Turnpike carries more than 210 million vehicles each year.

The next generation of long-range EV batteries will allow electric cars to go the whole way on a single charge, but that’s a far cry from the mass market. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is also a major thoroughfare for trucks, and all of those trucks will need charging stations along the way.

One benefit that emerged during the planning stages is the potential for solar-powered electric vehicle charging along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Journalist Ed Blazina of Pittsburgh Post Gazette I got the scoop last week.

Citing a study by freeway solar advisory organization The Ray, Blazina said the Turnpike has more than 5,400 acres of property with potential for solar development, with a total capacity of more than 1.5 gigawatts.

That sounds like a lot, and it is, except not every solar-friendly acre will end up hosting solar panels. The end result could be significantly lower than 1.5 gigawatts, but that remains to be seen. As described by Blazina, the Turnpike is already working on a series of solar projects, including the possible installation of wireless charging systems for electric vehicles on the road.

The long road to on-road solar-powered wireless EV charging

To help guide its wireless electric vehicle charging plans off the drawing board, last year the Pennsylvania Turnpike joined the University of Washington’s ASPIRE (Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification) program. Utah. The program is a Designated Engineering Research Center funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Turnpike has also partnered with the California branch of the fast-evolving Israeli startup Electreon. The company has worked on wireless electric vehicle charging with Stellantis and Volkswagen, among others, and recently expanded a pilot project in Sweden.

If you followed the planned electric route to Detroit, Electreon is also the company behind this project.

What happened to the electronic highway of the future?

The on-road wireless EV charging approach is just one solution to the challenge of building enough EV charging resources to accommodate millions of electric cars as well as trucks, buses and trucks. other heavy duty vehicles.

With this in mind, let’s return to the hybrid-electric eHighway concept being developed by Siemens. The system is based on electric trolley technology, which deploys overhead cables connected to the vehicle. The device that collects the energy from the wires is called a pantograph.

A conventional trolley is confined to its path by overhead cables. Siemens’ idea is to make the pantograph able to disengage and re-engage with the overhead wires at will.

As a hybrid system, the eHighway would allow gasoline-powered vehicles to travel from their location to the electrified route and turn off their internal combustion engines once connected.

The system would be installed along high-volume truck routes, for use primarily by heavy-duty vehicles. We think the eHighway could accommodate electric trucks as well, but that’s up to Siemens to decide.

The eHighway concept first sailed through the Clean Technica radar in 2014, as a pilot project in California. In 2016, the electrified highway system also started to be tested in Sweden.

Siemens has been very busy since then. Last year, the company launched another eHighway field trial in Germany, and our friends at Urban transport news report that India is also on track for an electric highway.

If this all sounds rather godly in the sky, take a look at what’s happening in the space solar field. Those warning of an EV charging apocalypse may need to reconsider.

Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey

Photo: Wireless electric vehicle charging device courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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