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Discussion Starter #1
Virtually all discussions about how to fuel range-extenders for BEV’s, whether hydraulic, air, battery, or flywheel, focus on some form of static re-fueling, either at a fueling station or at a plug-in at home, office, parking, etc. These are all variations of the filling station re-fueling paradigm that has evolved over the past 80 years. And no matter which power storage option we look at that fits that paradigm, we run into a whole laundry list of technical, capacity, and/or efficiency problems.

But BEV’s involve an entirely new power-source concept – the grid. We need to forget our previous re-fueling power source paradigms. Focus on the grid. Guess what - we have had a working paradigm for powering electric transportation vehicles from the grid for at least 80 years – electric trolleys, trains, light rail, and my favorite – slot cars.

Just think of it – you drive around the surface streets on battery power in town, then as you ease onto the local freeway, you merge into the electrified lane, deploy your inductive power pickup, and now you’re running directly on grid power. Zero storage losses. No compressor tanks. No hydrogen. No large battery bank to get you 200 miles down the road. The grid itself gets you down the road and recharges your small battery-pack while your driving, for the last leg of your trip on non-powered surface streets.

The same BEV smart-grid charger system that figures out your power billing no matter who’s outlet you plug into can also record how many kW-hrs you use on the freeway.

Let’s face it – If we are to indeed break the oil connection, we’ll have to electrify our entire transportation system anyway. Heavy trucks can’t be messing with batteries or hydrogen or any of these various energy storage systems to carry them 600 miles a day, towing 30 tons of freight. They will need serious electric power right on the highway. (And yes, rail will once again become a bigger freight player, also fully-electrified.)

To keep the road surface clear, I’m proposing that the power connection be inductive, with the grid power connection buried in the roadway. This keeps the road surface clear, allows for instant maneuvering between lanes, etc. just like today’s freeways. That’s the power of having an on-board battery, too. You don’t need constant power, just most-of-the-time power.

I haven’t a clue about the technical details of making a moving inductive power pickup work, or even if this is a viable way of doing it, but if possible, this would be way superior to a power rail-based system.

OK, gang, time to rip it up. Your comments please.
 

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One only needs to travel the world a little bit to be impressed with how some countries move their people. Japan's Shinkansen anyone? France's TGV? All electric and extremely clean and efficient. Marvels of the modern world and I hope that in the future America adopts these proven technologies. Solar powered TGVs, local rail, subways and freight trains. Almost a no-brainer. Shall I even mention that peak travel times almost perfectly match peak sun times? Hummm.

I have heard the induction strip idea many times in the past and the only problem I see with it is the cost of the infrastructure. You make an excellent point that a hybrid electric vehicle would already have a battery in it and would not need to be continuously connected via the induction strip. You could have dedicated charging lanes say a few miles long that would identify you, guide your car, bill your account and send you on your way. Winter weather? No problem - for states that have snow you could heat the roads very slightly. Induction by it's very nature is non-contact and can be made to resist even the harshest climates.

I would love to see you design, build out a test system and publish the findings along with a complete cost analysis. Seems to me a much better way to spend some research funds than on some of the other crazy stuff we fund. For people to see a fully loaded semi truck being charged on the fly would be eye opening. The technology for your idea exists today; from hands free driving (it's very easy to guide a vehicle along an electrified path) to just-released safe batteries and soon-to-be-released super capacitors, to wireless billing. All ready to go. If people realized just how big our energy problems are about to become I think we would be trying all kinds of energy research. I have a feeling we will see this panic funding in less than 10 years. Hang on to your hat!
 

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I definitely think this is an idea worthy of pursuit. There was a small discussion on Martin Egerhard's TeslaFounders blog that mentioned a company that is pitching this. I looked for that thread but couldn't find it. It certainly isn't a slam dunk, but if practical it solves a lot of issues better than much of what is being proposed and researched now. For cars, a system capable or 15-20KW would turn a 100mile BEV into cross country capable vehicle with no stops. Also, as mentioned it is most efficient to have the energy go straight to the motor bypassing the battery. This is also good for battery life too. Lots of good here, if it can be practically done.
 

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Yeah, there are a few ways to implement this system. You can go directly to the motor and bypass the battery (think electric trains) but you would need some different power electronics to switch out and to buffer the energy going into the AC motor controller. Definitely doable. However, if you don't charge the battery at the same time you will need to cover all of the 43,000 plus miles of interstate, just like an electric train is connected to the power line at all times.

The second way is to treat this as an on-the-fly charging station. No stopping and you don't have to be engaged for long periods of time (although the continuous system would allow complete hands free driving - nice). Your vehicle would basically let you know that it's time to head for the charging lane and where the next station is located. Simple GPS info. You would then merge into the charging lane while the system deploys the charging port, establishes communication with the station, takes over drive control and starts the charging cycle. When finished the charging port is retracted, drive control is released (you get off the tracks), your account is automatically billed and you continue on your way. Very nice. :) I really would like to see a cost and technical feasibility study done on this. Maybe it will become my long-term pet solution. Thus:

Short-term: Plug-in Hybrids (including E-REVs) that progressively move to higher percentages of biofuels. Normal-charging station build-out.

Medium-term: BEVs with normal and quick-charge stations.

Long-term: BEVs with normal, quick-charge, and road-charge stations.


Hummm, I’m feeling good about this plan. Realistic (holding off on the road-charge stations until feasibility study is complete and test station is operational) and a direct path to full sustainability all the while using the infrastructure that was built previously. I would like to hear other's plans from short-term to long-term. Interesting stuff!
 

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I found some patents!

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5821728-claims.html

It was issued 10 years ago and it seems the biggest problem was that batteries took too long to charge thus making the charging length impractical. Now with our EEstors and our Nanosafes.... Hummm. I didn't track down who holds the patent but it would be interesting to see if they are pursuing it. Hey DOE, how about toss them a few million to get a project moving?


More references and patents:

US Patent References:3914562 October, 1975 Boger 191/10 Supplying power to vehicles
4007817 February, 1977 Bolger, Jr. 191/10 Roadway for supplying power to vehicles and method of using the same
4331225 May, 1982 Bolger 191/10 Power control system for electrically driven vehicle
4836344 June, 1989 Bolger 191/10 Roadway power and control system for inductively coupled transportation system
5311973 May, 1994 Tseng et al. 320/2 Inductive charging of a moving electric vehicle's battery
5431264 July, 1995 Tseng et al. 191/10 Electric vehicle having body-wound inductive coil and EMR shielding
5573090 November, 1996 Ross 320/2 Raodway-powered electric vehicle system having onboard power metering and communication channel features

US Patent References:3914562 October, 1975 Bolger 191/10 Supplying power to vehicles
4007817 February, 1977 Bolger 191/14 Roadway for supplying power to vehicles and method of using the same
4139071 February, 1979 Tackett 191/2 Electrically operated vehicle and electrified roadway therefor
4184580 January, 1980 Ellis, Jr. 194/904 Coin operated battery charger and charging system check
4289226 September, 1981 Wilkinson 194/904 Electric vehicle battery recharging station
4331225 May, 1982 Bolger 191/10 Power control system for electrically driven vehicle
4532418 July, 1985 Meese et al. 194/904 Microprocessor electric vehicle charging and parking meter system structure and method
4742283 May, 1988 Bolger et al. 180/167 Guidance system for inductively coupled electric vehicles
4800328 January, 1989 Bolger et al. 191/4 Inductive power coupling with constant voltage output
4836344 June, 1989 Bolger 191/10 Roadway power and control system for inductively coupled transportation system
4912391 March, 1990 Meadows 320/2 Flux-coupled iron directed battery charger
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the research, Texas. The charging lane scenario was pretty close to what I had envisioned. When I get more time, I sure want to dig into the links you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
pdt

Thanks! - I figured it seemed such an obvious solution that others were already working on it and that our informed forum members would find the details.
 

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I hope that people working on solving our transportation problems are not discouraged by ideas that others have already thought of many years ago. I'm also well aware that I will probably not invent anything new. However, at this point I'm only concerned with seeing these ideas reach fruition. Just the satisfaction of seeing the US (and the world) on a path towards sustainability will be worth the effort. With plentiful clean and renewable energy available to everyone we can start working on other huge problems in the world. Without energy, fixing other problems like disease, education, feeding the hungry, etc. are irrelevant because that will only add to our problems. Remember that population follows the energy production curve. It's really that basic. Good luck on your projects and I hope to soon see but not hear you on the road. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
deja vu

I read finally pdt's 1990-vintage Times article in detail. It's filled with ironies....and more than a bit of electric vehicle deja vu. Should be required reading for all forum members.
 

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I'm not so sure about the on road power, I see a draw back. If it going to be a on road power. It may be stuck on the performer or a lack of flexable to improve on the cars system. It could also try to steal free electric from the road for other use then for the cars. I don't know much about the on the road power. I would prefer to have a quick-charge stations over the on road power.
 

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I read finally pdt's 1990-vintage Times article in detail. It's filled with ironies....and more than a bit of electric vehicle deja vu. Should be required reading for all forum members.
Yeah, It's like deja vu all over again. ;) Hopefully each new generation gets that much closer. We might not get all the way there but maybe our kids will figure it out. Guess we have to keep on trying.
 

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I have found that whenever I think about this kind of technology it is a dead end. Reason? By the time you navigate to a "charging" or otherwise powered lane there is not enough freedom. Automobile drivers will never be able to tolerate this kind of umbilical arrangement. There is no freedom in it. To use it you are pointing a huge dweeb finger at yourself as others pass by thumbing their nose at you. "Nyah Nyah, electric geek can't cut it." "Gotta stay where you belong?" as they gun their big batteries and pull out around you.
But really though, think about this, it's a step toward riding a bus where you no longer have control over where your can go.
If the entire roadbed was made of Inductrack then it would be possible to keep uniform spacing between cars and propel them all by induction. I once had this bright idea that cars on the freeway should link up bumper to bumper and most of them shut off their engines but it's starting to look like a train.
I consider myself a geek and a dweeb but lately I've seen some people getting joining me!
Keep it up.
 

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I once had this bright idea that cars on the freeway should link up bumper to bumper and most of them shut off their engines but it's starting to look like a train.
This is not as crazy as it first seems. No, I'm not talking about actually touching the car in front and behind you but using sensors to virtually link up. Ever see a long line of cars sitting at a light? When the light turns green the first cars starts, then the the car behind sees the car in front of him starting so he starts. This continues and you get the classic elastic cord situation. If the cars were linked using sensors all the cars would start moving at the same time and the delays would be considerably less. In fact, they would be as though each car had it's own traffic light and they all turned green at the same time. Don't laugh, it's coming.

Secondly, it will allow for intelligent cruise control. You could basically tell your car where you would like to go and the sensors would keep you from getting in trouble with the cars around you. It is safer and more convenient. Yeah, this is coming too. It's just a matter of the sensors, fast enough computers and some fancy computer programming. Heck, I would love to be able to do something else on say on a long drive across Texas. I could work, watch a movie or even sleep. Sign me up.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You read my mind. In phase two of my ideal "slot car" freeway, when you pull onto the freeway, your car would communicate with other cars on the road. Any other car with generally the same long-distance destination would let your car know and you'd find each other, link up, and form a virtual train. Cars would equally share the motive energy requirement. I pictured magnetic couplings front and rear to get as close as possible for maximum aerodynamics. As each car gets near their exit, the train temporarily separates for that car to pull out of the "train' lane and move over to exit.

i'm also picturing that the major interstates may need to set up a physically-separated lane for trucks so they can do the same thing and get a lot of the energy benefits of rail, plus the flexibility of trucks.
 

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I like your idea about separating out the big trucks and forming a virtual highly aerodynamic train. Makes perfect sense. I wonder if Tom could do an analysis on how much energy is saved. I know a cyclist will save over 20% of their energy by riding in the peloton. This way the truck transportation concept becomes even stronger by taking advantage of train aerodynamics as well as maintaining the flexibility that trucks are know for. I like it and I didn't even mention the safety issue (trucks and cars should not share the same road - kind of like a tiny car riding on the same track as a freight train. Ouch.
 

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You can go directly to the engine and bypass the battery, but you need different power electronics off and reduce the energy goes into the AC motor controller. Certainly possible. But if you do not charge the battery at the same time, you will need to cover every 43.000 miles, more inter-state as an electric train that is connected to the network at any time.
 
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