Innovation

Sweden’s electric road solution to bulky car batteries

Lund University researchers have invented a small conductive rail laid on top of the road so it can charge electric cars as they drive. Jim Drury reports.

LUND, SWEDEN (Reuters) – The expense of drilling into roads makes electric road technology tricky to develop.

A Lund University team says its prototype conductive rail laid on top of the road is the answer.

The rail connects to a pick-up, fitted to the car’s underside.

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“The pick-up is only two centimetres high but it’s two metres long and it has three sliding contacts…the three contacts goes down to the rail and it’s actually an alternated current, so we have the rectifiers in the back and it’s connected to the charger, the onboard charger. So it charges the batteries while you drive.”

The rail is only active when covered by a vehicle, so it’s completely safe.

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“The thing we did is to chop up the rail to plus and minus and put them after each other and then we switch on the positive parts when the vehicle is covering it. So there’s no electricity in front or after the car. It’s only under the car.”

Spinoff company Elonroad is to trial the system on public roads in Mariestad city.

Elonroad believes its system is superior to other e-road systems.

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“They electrify like 30 to 50 metres, so we only electrify one meter at a time. So our solution works at slower speeds, one can say. It works in cities and it actually works when you’re parked.”

Their system could cut the size of e-batteries by 80 percent…with other environmental benefits.

MATS ALAKÜLA, PROFESSOR OF INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AND AUTOMATION AT LUND UNIVERSITY,

“The most important benefit with electric roads is the reduction of the amount of batteries we need for a future electric vehicle fleet. And the biggest importance is in the materials that goes into these batteries, the extraction of these materials and the amount of these materials.”

Around half Sweden’s major roads will need to be covered if the technology is launched nationwide.

Fewer small roads would be covered, with rails kept away from roundabouts and intersections.


Associated Links

  • Lund University
  • ELONROAD TECHNOLOGY
  • Elonroad
  • Lund
  • Electric car
  • Geography of Sweden
  • Emerging technologies
  • Geography of Europe
  • Electrostatics