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Roads that recharge cars: the experiments continue

AUTONOMY ANXIETY – The surveys agree: one of the factors that leaves motorists most perplexed about electric vehicles is the range with the relative anxiety, also linked to the times and possibilities of recharging. Things could change, and a lot, if we managed to recharge the vehicle while it is moving and in this sense experiments of various types are taking place. If the idea of ​​an overhead power line – similar to that of railway vehicles – appears more suitable for heavy vehicles (Who to learn more), the wireless charging looks better for cars. We recall the one experienced by many manufacturers when the car is stationary (Who an example related to BMW) and let’s talk about the wireless one that uses the same principle of the static solution, but carries it on the road. Very recent is, for example, the experimentation announced in Sweden which will affect a 21-kilometre stretch of European route E20 between the cities of Hallsberg and Örebro.

EXPERIMENT IN TRAFFIC – This arterial road was chosen because it connects Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, the three most populated cities in Sweden. The aim is to free plug-in hybrid electric vehicle drivers from traditional battery chargers, allowing them to recharge while driving already in 2025. The Trafikverket, the Swedish transport agency, is still evaluating the type of system to adopt for inductive charging, which could be static, with plates in the asphalt similar to those used by BMW, or dynamic, implemented with underground cables to send electricity to collection coils aboard automobiles which they could then recharge on the go. There inductive charging (photo above) takes advantage of the fact that a magnetic field variable (possibly generated by another coil crossed by current) which strikes a coil made of conducting wires “induces” in it (hence the name) an alternating electric current which varies like the magnetic field. It can then be used to charge the battery without the need for physical contact: both options would still not create difficulties for conventional vehicles traveling the same road.

WE LIGHTEN ELECTRIC CARS – Jan Pettersson, director of strategic development at Trafikverket, told Euronews Next that transforming just the 25% of highways of a region so they can charge cars on the go would make electric vehicles more affordable. In fact, dynamic charging promises to reduce the autonomy required for a single charge and this could make the battery up to 70% smaller, with large reductions in weight, cost and size. One scenario rosy that it is though still far away: The Swedish pilot road will not be ready before 2025 and it will take much more time for any extension of the system. In fact, if on the one hand Trafikverket is already thinking about expanding the service to 3,000 kilometers of road, which would make the reduction in battery size feasible, on the other hand the time horizon for achieving this goal is 2045 .

IS THE MAGNETIC CEMENT COMING? – The experiments of recharge on the go there are many, some of which date back 10 years. This is the case with South Koreawhich in 2013 launched what it claims is the world’s first electric bus service (photo above). The road network concerned consists of 24 kilometers of roads with electric cables laid under the asphalt and the service involves the city of Gumi: two electric buses connect the railway station and In-dong. More recent and radically different is the approach taken by the Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University. These entities have announced plans to develop the first section of the motorway in the world with wireless charging concrete flooring using innovative magnetic concrete developed by German startup Magment. It is concrete in which a part of the aggregates – sand and gravel – are replaced by fragments of ferrite, the magnetic material used for example in loudspeakers. They derive from waste from other production processes and the resulting material can be processed in the same plants that process conventional cement.

STELLANTIS IS IN THE ARENA – The coils that create the magnetic field are inserted in the concrete and this material takes the place of the metal cores used to intensify the magnetic field itself but with a much lower cost; the compound lends itself to both static and dynamic inductive charging. Finally, let’s go back to Italia talking about Stellar who built his own test circuit, called sand of the future (photo above), near the A35 motorway (Who the news). It is a ring just over 1 km long whose lanes are equipped with coils drowned under the asphalt mantle: in addition to Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer charging, connectivity and dialogue between the vehicle and the motorway network are also being tested. These are therefore very interesting ideas and experiments whose realization is linked to overcoming non-negligible difficulties: if practicable solutions were to be found, however, electric mobility would be revolutionized profoundly and positively.

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