Israeli Wireless Tech Could Lead to In-Road Charging For Electric Cars

An electric bus demonstration project in Israel may show the feasibility of adopting wireless charging technology in other countries and vehicle types, including cars consumers may one day buy.

The Israeli government is working with ElectRoad, a local wireless charging technology company, to develop technology that can charge buses while in motion.

The test demonstration will take a while. The first round brought in a $120,000 for ElectRoad and a green light on going to the second phase of testing next year on a half-mile route in Tel Aviv. If that works out, the demonstration will go to the third phase on an 11-mile route between the city of Eilat and the Ramon International Airport.

There are different types of wireless charging systems being tried out in the world, one of them being inductive charging systems where passenger cars need to park over or close to a wireless charging unit. Another is the catenary cable system being tested by power management company Eaton for buses and trucks; one example of vehicles using a catenary system is San Francisco’s cable cars.

ElectRoad is using electromagnets tied to inverters placed on the side of the road providing power to copper plates embedded under the asphalt on roads. These points interact with copper plates mounted under the bus to produce the power.

In a promotional video that you can view below, ElectRoad shows a fictional report from 2030 where global warming has been circumvented by advanced electric vehicle technology – starting with wirelessly charged electric buses.

The bus will also get a backup batter to provide power beyond the magnetic strip. That provides power for short distances out of the inverter network, and can power acceleration in the bus.

The challenge here will be getting the time, personnel, and funding to place inverters alongside roads and copper plates embedded within the roads.

Another obstacle will be competing with battery technology, which is starting to see a ray of hope. The high cost is starting to come down; what used to be $1,000 per kilowatt hour in cost has come down lately to $200 to $300.

“What these auto manufacturers are finding when they’re getting into the $100-to-$200-per-kilowatt-hour range is these vehicles are really on parity with other vehicles,” said Dustin Grace, director of electric bus maker Proterra.

Range is increasing for these lithium-ion batteries as well, with the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 being clear examples. Larger battery packs used in trucks and buses are also seeing improvements in distance per charge.

SEE ALSO:  Wireless Charging May Become Common Over the Next Four Years

There are advantages for those considering wireless charging powered electric vehicles of the future, including contributions to sustainability. Besides weaning vehicles off of fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions, the electric buses can also be producing extra power that can be used in the vehicle and elsewhere.

Oren Ezer, chief executive and co-founder of ElectRoad, said that the wireless system could be producing energy by feeding electricity from the bus braking system back into the grid.

Other advocates of wireless charging point to the convenience and extended range the technology can offer. Most major automakers are experimenting with wireless charging and plan to make it available on their plug-in vehicles in the near future. The question will be, which wireless charging systems will be the most logistically and economically feasible for vehicles of all types, shapes, and sizes?


More Hybrid News...