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Sweden becomes first nation to open electric highway that powers trucks using overhead lines

By midian182 · 28 replies
Jun 23, 2016
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  1. While advancements in electric truck technology continue to be made, there are still limitations due to factors such as size, weight, and expense. But an invention that has been around for almost 150 years could prove a solution to these issues.

    German engineering company Siemens says that overhead electrical wires can be used to power electric trucks for theoretically unlimited distances. The vehicles’ pantograph power connectors can freely connect and disconnect to the overhead wires while traveling at speeds of up to 56 mph. The power the trucks draw can recharge an electric battery, which is used when traveling away from the ‘electric roads.’

    Sweden has become the first country to test the conductive technology on a public highway. On a 2 kilometer (1.2 miles) stretch of the E16 highway near the city of Gavle just north of Stockholm, two diesel hybrid vehicles – made by Scania and adapted in collaboration with Siemens – will conduct the electric road trials over the next two years to see if it is suitable for wider deployment.

    The test vehicles will operate in zero emission mode when connected to the overhead cables, switching back to diesel for operation outside of the contact lines. Siemens said the technology’s open configuration would allow the trucks to use other forms of power, such as battery or natural gas.

    "The Siemens eHighway is twice as efficient as conventional internal combustion engines. The Siemens innovation supplies trucks with power from an overhead contact line. This means that not only is energy consumption cut by half, but local air pollution is reduced too," says Roland Edel, Chief Engineer at the Siemens Mobility Division.

    Siemens is also bringing electric road technology to the US. A 1-mile stretch of power lines on a highway near the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles is currently under construction.

    Sweden is one of several European countries, including Norway and the Netherlands, aiming for the majority of vehicles on its roads to be of the zero emission variety by 2030.

    Permalink to story.

  2. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Evangelist Posts: 392   +261

    What happens when a storm or accident knocks down a pole or two? Seems like electrocution risk would increase a lot if these roads were all over the place. What do I know though?
  3. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,518   +409

    Practical reuse of older technology, which allows backwards compatibility with non compatible vehicles? I like it. There will be plenty of people however who will criticize such a deployment as visually unappealing on longer, likely more scenic routes, possibly being dangerous to local wildlife, or even the upfront cost of building out the system as a reason not to do it at all.
  4. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 870   +393

    Do the lines/connectors have much friction? Friction = heat = wear. For the speed of 56 mph, the heat produced from enough contract for electric transfer based on metal to metal contact would melt worthy.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,431   +2,888

    Where it possible to perfect Tesla's transmission technique for short distances (say, less than 100 yds) so the power lines could run parallel to the road bed but not needing direct contact, it would have significant value. Even better if the charging current could be configured like the power for mag-lev trains so it is only used as needed and not on all the time. Serving as a "charging" utility, it could significantly increase the appeal of electric cars as well.

    Certainly another step in the right direction and appears to bolster the suggestion that fossil fuels for automobiles might be rendered obsolete in the next century as a very real possibility. Of course we have heard similar claims about other technologies over the years; but this one still prods along with little gains here and there.
  6. 3volv3d

    3volv3d TS Addict Posts: 157   +59

    I thought we would have like wireless charging roads n monorail type style highways and blueberry waffles. Nom
  7. fastvince

    fastvince TS Enthusiast Posts: 74   +21

    It would be fun to see what happens when someone throws a pair of sneakers over the lines, like I did when I was a kid. Would they get tangled up in the cables on the train when it went by, or maybe cause the connectors to get derailed? I was a bad kid.
  8. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,410   +569

    That would be difficult gauge unless you know how many Amps are running through those lines!
  9. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,888   +680

    How would the risk be any different from the millions of miles of regular high voltage and medium voltage lines currently in use today? These look far stronger than the traditional wooden poles they use and it's not like there are trees along the highway in a close enough proximity to be an issue. Not to mention the power gets cut pretty fast when power lines go down.
  10. namesrejected

    namesrejected TS Guru Posts: 398   +301

    The idea that this is "zero" emissions is false :

    1.) The increased demand on the grid will cause power plants to pump out more emissions.
    2.) Refining all the steel for the poles causes emissions.
    3.) Galvanizing the steel so it doesn't corrode causes emissions.
    4.) Refining all the wire causes emissions.
    5.) The traffic coming to a halt because of the construction for putting this stuff up causes emissions.

    Places like California have to perform rolling blackouts because they are limited on the emissions the power plants can put out, and more and more people there are buying electric cars which will just cause the problem there to get worst. Electricity comes from somewhere, its not free.

    PS: Before I get nailed with " Solar, and Wind " ( I do agree, those are great ). Solar panels require precious, and semi-precious metals to be produced, which requires a lot of mining and refining. Wind kills birds? The production of wind generators still has waist, just like everything else. In the end, no energy is free, or zero emissions. Some like solar, wind, geothermal ( best in my book ) have way less in the long run, but to say zero emissions is false.

    I want to throw a pipe across the wires!
  11. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,375   +71

    They had this in chicago for chicago transit authority buses in the 1950s on, notably on a street named archer avenue. When it fell off the electric line the driver would have like a manual jack to lift it back up and attach it to the line.
  12. torbuck

    torbuck TS Rookie

    The transit technology you speak of is still in use in Vancouver, British Columbia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_buses_in_Vancouver
  13. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,283

    Enough amperage to give a bald person a permanent afro I'd hazard a guess.
  14. Cees Timmerman

    Cees Timmerman TS Rookie

    56 mph is only 90 kmph. Train in China go up to 486.1 kmph without melting the wires.
  15. Cees Timmerman

    Cees Timmerman TS Rookie

    Wind kills fewer birds than windows, and if power plants did not produce more power than alternatives, no one would build them.

    I want to throw a pipe across eco-terrorists, but pointing out their irony should be sufficient. I cancelled my Greenpeace donations after their Brent Spar, commute, and Nazca fiascoes, and hope to see wind, solar, and thorium replace local polluters like coal plants.
  16. namesrejected

    namesrejected TS Guru Posts: 398   +301

    I was being sarcastic with the "wind kills birds?" I thought the question mark implied that. I believe in "cleanER" energy, and believe that wind, solar, and geothermal are the ways to go. I just don't believe that electric transit, be it in the form of electric vehicle, train, bus is going to make any change unless the power plant that it powering them is clean. If, when everyone starts using "clean" transportation they plop up more coal burning plants there will be nothing accomplished.

    I don't know much about this thorium reactor you mentioned, but I did wiki it, and it seems really cool. There are also a lot of other technologies out there that have a lot of potential. The research being done with the Wendelstein 7-X for example could lead to fusion power in the future.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for clean transportation. I just want people to understand that those outlets in the walls that provide power for all your gadgets and gizmos is not some magical device. The electricity comes from somewhere, and if those somewhere ( powerplants ) aren't clean ones, your not achieving much going all electric.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,929   +3,304

    Considering the PRR and now Amtrak have used those same electric lines for about a hundred years, and I watch the local news, downed railroad power lines are virtually unheard of, whereas normal highway accidents are the usual cause of electric rail delay. Transformers do blow out from time to time to time though.

    We still have trolley systems in SE Pennsylvania. But, trolleys for the most part, have a single pole to the power lines, with a roller wheel at the top. That eliminates most of the friction wear. Still, even with the trolley confined to a fixed track path, the poles come off the wire frequently., for a variety of reasons. I can't picture a tractor-trailer driver getting out in the middle of a superhighway and trying to reset the electric pole...

    I expect that dielectric grease applied to the pantographs of these trucks might become a regular service procedure

    The biggest problem I see with this electric truck solution is, it seems to mandate the electrified lane would need to be almost dedicated to truck traffic. How such a lane would affect the current traffic flow, I suppose remains to be seen. Would new highways need right of way for an extra lane, if this becomes widespread? Nobody seems to be able to afford to even fix potholes now, imagine the added cost of electrification against 100 miles of new expressway...:eek:

    NOW, electric railways have a GROUND, which is the tracks themselves. Trucks have RUBBER tires, which are insulators. So that means you need a positive AND negative wire in the overhead. Which sounds to me, like an accident waiting to happen.
  18. Nilbud

    Nilbud TS Enthusiast Posts: 37   +10

    It's a crap idea. Induction charging is the way to go as shown by the Koreans and an experiment in England which will now be scrapped due to their suicide as a nation.
    Cees Timmerman likes this.
  19. RexfordL

    RexfordL TS Rookie

    Incredibly inefficient, the idea of a vehicle with rubber tires. Just make more railroads..
  20. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,277   +566

    I just want to mention that Los Angeles once already had light rail cars in the form of streetcars powered by overhead electric lines. Those were replaced for a time with rubber tired electric buses. Although the technology might be improved, the concept is old.
    Raoul Duke likes this.
  21. I have had Light Rail Transit here for about 25 years. The buses run to and from the LRT feeder stations
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,929   +3,304

    Philadelphia had, (has?) those electric busses too. They were called "trackless trolleys". We still have trolleys with a shared subway/elevated line, (The El"), plus electric powered, "regional rail', (overhead wiring). The "El" is a 3rd rail system. (No overhead wiring).

    Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 years ago, (!), I was coming to Philly with a girl from Delaware, who begged me to chase a trolley car. She claimed she had never seen one. All this electric crap seems like old hat to me.

    I expect this will turn into the "power saving light bulb", of our highway system. Wherein you must spend billions on infrastructure, to save a few million on diesel fuel. Don't look now, but if any of this is implemented, fuel taxes will skyrocket, when you consider a large portion of those taxes go toward highway construction and maintenance.

    Where's crackpot Musk with batteries for tractor trailers when you need him?

    Methinks this is a whole affair is lot of histrionic, political, bulls***. They're trying to pass this off as a "solution", when in point of fact, they don't actually have one.

    @mailpup In fact, when I was a child, the PRR & Reading RR's formed, "The Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Line". They ran Pennsy's "K-4" seam locomotives to all points on the South Jersey coast, because it wasn't cost effective to pull electric overhead wires to the shore, due to insufficient passenger's served. Later, the K-4's were replaced by Budd aluminum self powered diesel electric rail cars. Well, Budd is now out of business, and their site in NE Philly is a casino...:D I guess people either drive their gas guzzlers, or take the diesel fuel guzzling bus to Atlantic City nowadays. Never mind, AC is broke, and no one much goes there. Pollution crisis averted...(y)

    Moving on, Philly has had "trolley busses" since 1923! http://www.septa.org/media/50th/trackless-trolleys.html

    And......., so much for that, "new idea"......
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016
    Raoul Duke and namesrejected like this.
  23. namesrejected

    namesrejected TS Guru Posts: 398   +301

    Ditto. Also got to take into account the pollution all that construction and maintenance will cost over time. Refining all the steel for the poles, galvanizing, the wire production ( the refining of aluminum produces a lot of highly toxic waist ) assuming the wire that is used is aluminum.
  24. John Staerck

    John Staerck TS Rookie

    It was precisely the potential suicide as a nation that we voted to avoid.
  25. learninmypc

    learninmypc TS Evangelist Posts: 8,537   +555

    Although that is a good question, Seattle has had electric trolleys for decades with very little if any such problems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolleybuses_in_Seattle
    captaincranky likes this.

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