New Electric Bus-Tram Supercharges Battery Every Stop

New Electric Bus-Tram Supercharges Battery Every Stop

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Solving the battery problem, one annoying bus stop at a time.

The problem with electric cars (and buses and motor scooters) isn't making an engine that runs without gasoline or supplying enough horsepower. No, the technology for all that works great, the problem is that batteries have not advanced as quickly. There is not a way for a vehicle to carry a battery that will hold enough charge to travel very far; a battery big enough would be too heavy for the vehicle to carry. Smaller vehicles like cars can get away with what batteries are available now because it's not often that people have to travel more than 100 miles per charge. But with a mass transit bus in a major city, the power needed to even go a few miles is way more than a battery can hold. The Fraunhofer Institute in Germeny has a novel way to get around this particular conundrum, however, by setting up a charging station at every bus stop that will jolt it with up to 750 volts of power with a mere 30 second charge.

"We wanted it to be flexible and rather cheap like a bus system - less expensive than light rail. One way we achieve that is not to have any overhead line, or rails," said Ulrich Potthoff.

Enter the AutoTram, a light-weight segmented bus/slash tram that will dock with a passenger platform to receive a burst of electricity capable of powering the vehicle up to 1.2 miles. That doesn't seem like a lot, but with distance between bus stations averaging around .3 miles in Germany, such a distance is more than enough.

"I think this is most useful in countries which only have diesel buses and want to do something new with transportation," Potthoff said. "They are calculating that overhead lines and infrastructure is very expensive compared to our system."

If the prototype Potthoff is building works, he thinks that he will be able to reduce the emissions and costs of public transportation as compared to light rail systems, but that it will still be pricey compared to diesel bus lines. "If it's not subsidized for environmental reasons, you would not be able to calculate in an equal way," he said.

Also, if my time playing Cities in Motion has taught me anything, a tram line that doesn't need an overhead wire or rails would be pretty awesome.

Source: Fastcompany

Thanks for the tip, ThyNameIsMud

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I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

Well, what is the point in mentioning the voltage of the charge? Volts ins't the measurement for power, watt is.

This sounds like a really good idea for major cities that down already have overhead lines. In smaller cities though 1.2 miles just isnt enough to get you to the next bus stop. Well atleast here in Canada it often isnt. I guess we will stick with our hybrids in the small cities untill this tech gets better.

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

You sir... I'm not sure if i should congratulate you not not?

OT:
Sounds good. We have crap massive diesel buses, I hate them with a vengeance!

VIVA LA REVOLUTION!

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

'bash head on wall'

yup, they've either scrapped the battery for a capacitor and a resistor, or are running thousands of little batteries in parallel
i used to do that when designing tiny solar robots as it gives nice bursts of charge but it runs out far quicker overall, a high capacity battery is better but it will definitely charge faster this way, and that's the point of this design
you can check out some of these principles with scale models:
http://www.active-robots.com/robot-parts/parts-bundles?p=1

it's quite fun to get into,
but i moved onto building pc's so i don't have the cash any more :(

Femaref:
Well, what is the point in mentioning the voltage of the charge? Volts ins't the measurement for power, watt is.

quite right, i can generate 10,000v with some particularly electrostatic trousers and fry a computer cpu with it, or shock people with tiny sparks but it certainly won't power a car
however
I doubt very much the qualification of escapist news presenter prerequisites a knowledge of electrical engineering
or that the average person would even care

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

I'm quite shocked someone came out with a good pun so early. Excellent work good sir.

OT: I'm all for this. Add solar panels to the top of the buses and I reckon you could get decent service from those ;D

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

I'm beginning to suspect... are you HankMan?

OT: 30 second stops doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Here in Mexico we already have overhead line busses, but only in major streets and avenues in downtown. Battery based busses sounds like a good idea for my beloved Guadalajara.

SupahGamuh:

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

I'm beginning to suspect... are you HankMan?

Was he a member on this site?

I remember Top Gear coming up with a similar idea. The problem with car electric batteries is long charging time, so their unorthodox solution was to have tram-lines above motorways which would charge cars with power- same principle could be applied to bus'.

*Sighs* Have we all forgot the Monorail episode of The Simpsons.

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

HE'S HERE ALL WEEKEND!

tigermilk:
*Sighs* Have we all forgot the Monorail episode of The Simpsons.

I haven't...Cool Avatar btw.

"Fraunhofer Institute in Germeny"? I do believe good sir, that you meant Germany.

They could do with a re-design on the bus. Looks a little Total Recall for me.

So, they have sacrificed running time (the ampage of the system) by increasing the charge rate drastically? That's not going to solve the problem, it will create an altogether new one.

The problem that you face with batteries in long draw applications like cars and, in this scenario, trams, is that you are depleting a power source through usage. For example, you have a 120 amp battery and your current draw is 10 amp per hour; you are, before you completely flatten the battery, going to get 12 hours running time. But it is not as simple as that; the voltage will deteriorate way before the 12th hour has arrived, meaning that you cannot access the power and therefore your running time is reduced even further. So, and I see what they have done here, by have a 'quick' 30 second charge every stop, they keep the bank of batteries in a fully charged condition so that the running time of the batteries can be accessed.

That said, you're only creating surface charge on the batteries. You would not, in that time scale, recover the ampage, only the voltage that has been drawn. Start the motor, and you loose the surface charge and you're back to square one. It would be no different to using a jump pack on your car when you have a flat battery. Therefore, if you're not the ampage in the system but maintaining the voltage, then you would need a very high ampage to compensate for the distances the tram will travel.

Which brings me to my main concern. You either have a high voltage with low amps, or a low voltage with high amps. You cannot, in the same physical space, cram a 12v 500amp system with anything higher than a 24v 250amp system. It's simply not the case. 760v is a ridiculously high voltage; what is the ampage and running time that the tram would have at such a rate? Why not have access to twice the running time at 380v? Also, at 760v, imagine the heat generated for the bank of batteries. You get a bad cell or internal short, you're going to have a problem.

I'm just concerned that the repeated charging will wear the battery down really fast. :P

The other problem is constantly super charging the batteries drasticly reduces the batteries life span meaning you have to replace the batteries alot more often and that is very expensive. For example the Nissan Leaf an electric car available now when supercharged the batteries break after about 5 years and to replace cost around 7,000 pounds thats close to around 14,000 US dollars. The batteries used to power a bus would be way more expensive than that. Not only that but what do you do with the dead batteries? There are all kinds of weird and dangerous potentially enviromental damaging materials in a battery.

Hybrids arn't the answer either sure they get decent mpg compared to a petroleum engine but diseal is comparable in mpg (quite often better) and gives more power and more torque to Hybrid and is cheaper to make and can be recycled where as many components in the Hybrid can't.

Long story short the best solution for now is Diseal power and possibly Diseal Electric like what trains have been running on for ages and the best solution for the future is Hydrogen.

Ser Imp:

SupahGamuh:

Ser Imp:
I'll be sure to keep an Ion this development.

I'm beginning to suspect... are you HankMan?

Was he a member on this site?

Yes, he was and he had your puntastic style, more or less. He was banned and I missed his puns, glad to see someone taking his torch and continue his puntastic comments, even if they were not always funny.

SupahGamuh:

Ser Imp:

SupahGamuh:

I'm beginning to suspect... are you HankMan?

Was he a member on this site?

Yes, he was and he had your puntastic style, more or less. He was banned and I missed his puns, glad to see someone taking his torch and continue his puntastic comments, even if they were not always funny.

Sounds like a cool dude, but what did he get banned for? Do the mods here not like puns? O.O

Ser Imp:

SupahGamuh:

Ser Imp:

Was he a member on this site?

Yes, he was and he had your puntastic style, more or less. He was banned and I missed his puns, glad to see someone taking his torch and continue his puntastic comments, even if they were not always funny.

Sounds like a cool dude, but what did he get banned for? Do the mods here not like puns? O.O

Nah, we love puns (and I hope the mods too), but generally you have to do something incredibly stupid and incredibly offensive to get banned and I think he did a bit of both that didn't got him banned immediatly, but he eventually got banned for that.

You don't have to always write something thoughtful, intelligent or witty, you can be stupid and make someone laugh, but just try to not cross the line with anything incredibly stupid (like "First!" or a useless internet meme) and/or offensive.

TL;DR, don't be a jerk ;)

SupahGamuh:

Ser Imp:

SupahGamuh:

Yes, he was and he had your puntastic style, more or less. He was banned and I missed his puns, glad to see someone taking his torch and continue his puntastic comments, even if they were not always funny.

Sounds like a cool dude, but what did he get banned for? Do the mods here not like puns? O.O

Nah, we love puns (and I hope the mods too), but generally you have to do something incredibly stupid and incredibly offensive to get banned and I think he did a bit of both that didn't got him banned immediatly, but he eventually got banned for that.

You don't have to always write something thoughtful, intelligent or witty, you can be stupid and make someone laugh, but just try to not cross the line with anything incredibly stupid (like "First!" or a useless internet meme) and/or offensive.

TL;DR, don't be a troll ;)

He kept getting into trouble, but I think he was eventually banned for ban-jumping. Silly man.

OT: I am concerned about the life-span and disposable properties of those tram batteries. Surely they would wear out sooner, being super-charged?

MetaKio:
So, they have sacrificed running time (the ampage of the system) by increasing the charge rate drastically? That's not going to solve the problem, it will create an altogether new one.

The problem that you face with batteries in long draw applications like cars and, in this scenario, trams, is that you are depleting a power source through usage. For example, you have a 120 amp battery and your current draw is 10 amp per hour; you are, before you completely flatten the battery, going to get 12 hours running time. But it is not as simple as that; the voltage will deteriorate way before the 12th hour has arrived, meaning that you cannot access the power and therefore your running time is reduced even further. So, and I see what they have done here, by have a 'quick' 30 second charge every stop, they keep the bank of batteries in a fully charged condition so that the running time of the batteries can be accessed.

That said, you're only creating surface charge on the batteries. You would not, in that time scale, recover the ampage, only the voltage that has been drawn. Start the motor, and you loose the surface charge and you're back to square one. It would be no different to using a jump pack on your car when you have a flat battery. Therefore, if you're not the ampage in the system but maintaining the voltage, then you would need a very high ampage to compensate for the distances the tram will travel.

Which brings me to my main concern. You either have a high voltage with low amps, or a low voltage with high amps. You cannot, in the same physical space, cram a 12v 500amp system with anything higher than a 24v 250amp system. It's simply not the case. 760v is a ridiculously high voltage; what is the ampage and running time that the tram would have at such a rate? Why not have access to twice the running time at 380v? Also, at 760v, imagine the heat generated for the bank of batteries. You get a bad cell or internal short, you're going to have a problem.

At the kind of ranges they're quoting, have you considered they may be using a super-capacitor system rather than batteries?

Much of the issue surrounding charge and discharge rates for batteries are almost a non-issue for a capacitor.

What stops them being used in most applications like this is they have maybe 1/10th the capacity of even a lead-acid battery.

Granted, you sound like you know a lot more about this than I do, but the action of a capacitor is easy enough to observe even in a fairly basic electrical circuit, and I don't think they have the same issues you are implying.

actually, checking the original source:

For the full prototype, now being developed, Potthoff's team has hit upon a mix of a battery and "super-capacitors" which can store large amounts of power for short periods.

I would assume the capacitors go some way to making this kind of charging regime viable.

SupahGamuh:

Ser Imp:

SupahGamuh:

Yes, he was and he had your puntastic style, more or less. He was banned and I missed his puns, glad to see someone taking his torch and continue his puntastic comments, even if they were not always funny.

Sounds like a cool dude, but what did he get banned for? Do the mods here not like puns? O.O

Nah, we love puns (and I hope the mods too), but generally you have to do something incredibly stupid and incredibly offensive to get banned and I think he did a bit of both that didn't got him banned immediatly, but he eventually got banned for that.

You don't have to always write something thoughtful, intelligent or witty, you can be stupid and make someone laugh, but just try to not cross the line with anything incredibly stupid (like "First!" or a useless internet meme) and/or offensive.

TL;DR, don't be a jerk ;)

Thanks, I'll try to remember that
Just one thing, does "useless" memes include CSI Miami? (Even if it is very good?)

Ser Imp:
Snip

Nah, it makes everything
*puts glasses on*
20% cooler

Waiting for the fail math that will likely point out that the "environmental damage" of producing the required amount of voltage; never mind the new construction and charging stations, greatly exceeds the "environmental damage" of keeping the old deisel buses up and running.

But you know how environmentalists are always so eager to ignore... an inconvenient truth.

 

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