Monday, November 26, 2012

Wirelessly-Charged Electric Bus Unveiled in Utah

The next-generation of electric vehicle technology was on display last week, as Utah State University (USU) rolled out a wirelessly-charged electric transit bus.

Dubbed the “Aggie Bus,” the 22-foot vehicle powers-up by sitting over charging pads embedded in the roadway. Through a magnetic field, the bus receives 25 kilowatts of energy — enough power to drive approximately 30 miles before needing a recharge.

For the initial demonstration held on Thursday, Nov. 15, researchers charged the bus in a garage-like laboratory with an above-ground charging pad, and then took university and media passengers on a short ride.

Officials tout the Aggie Bus as the first bus to receive wireless energy of up to 25 kilowatts with more than 90 percent efficiency over an air gap of six inches. That gap includes roadway materials such as asphalt.

From a consumer perspective, the system is similar to rechargeable pads that mobile devices sit on to wirelessly recharge. But in this case, the device could sit on a shelf above the pad and still receive power.

The idea is that eventually, a public transit bus could charge up, go on its route and, every time it stops to pick up passengers, it would sit above an in-ground charging pad that would recharge the vehicle.

If it works as planned, the technology could set the stage for a viable form of non-fossil fuel power. Some work still needs to be done before you’ll see big city transit authorities adopting the technology, however. Researchers must still test various forums of surface materials to determine which are the most conducive to charging, and they need to increase the height of the air gap. But officials believe the question is now a matter of “when” rather than “if.” Government Technology