If you remember the sixties you remember slot cars. These toy cars from the glory days of miniaturized racing had electric motors that were only rendered operable when they were placed in the slots of the electrified track. And with the power circuit completed, away you sped. No batteries required.
Slot cars of today?
Today’s full-sized electric cars, however, do need batteries; large, expensive ones that have to be recharged every hundred miles or so. Cumbersome recharging requirements not only limit the range of EV cars, it’s also a major reason why EV adoption is slower than it should be. Fortunately, engineers in Korea, Germany and England are building and testing an alternative to stationary battery recharging they’re hoping will revolutionize the industry: electric roads!
Electric roads will allow EVs to recharge as they’re driven. The technology embeds transmitting coils in roadways that transfer energy to a receiving coil in the EV by the principle of electromagnetic induction. So will EVs soon be able to say good-bye to bulky onboard batteries?
It appears they will.
But can electric roads prove their mettle?
Highways England is currently funding an 18 month off-road test of wireless EV charging roads that if successful could soon lead to on-road trials. A government feasibility study found people would be much more likely to drive EVs if wired roads were available.
This has the benefit of saving time and improving the distance that electric vehicles can travel. Nic Brunetti, spokesman for Highways England
The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is currently operating Open Leading Electric Vehicles (OLEVs) and is answering a lot of the questions about their feasibility. The institute has been able to reduce the standard battery size required by four fifths and increase the electricity transfer rate between the road and the vehicle to 85%.
Could this be a sunny solution?
Electric roads do offer the possibility of changing the game for EV use. But if we constructed a vast network of wireless electric roads, how would the electricity for them be sourced? This is an important question since using electricity generated from fossil fuels would only be moving the carbon problem downstream. Perhaps solar powered roadways could be the answer to this hitch in the idea.