Siemens Wants to Power Electric Trucks with Overhead Lines

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Siemens Wants to Power Electric Trucks with Overhead Lines

As the world faces a future of autonomous and eco-friendly transportation alternatives, exactly how we will reach that point is still unknown. Siemens has proposed a rather out of the box solution to powering electric trucks, and it uses a technology that has been around for over 150 years. They call it an ehighway system, that uses overhead power lines to power electric trucks, just like trams and trolleys back in the day. The first system was just implemented, according to the press release, where Siemens will be evaluating a 2-mile electrified stretch of E16 highway north of Stockholm.

Start des weltweit ersten eHighways in Schweden / World's first eHighway opens in Sweden Im Juni 2016 ging der erste eHighway auf einer öffentlichen Straße in Betrieb. Auf einem zwei Kilometer langen Autobahnabschnitt der E16 nördlich von Stockholm wird für die nächsten zwei Jahre ein Siemens-Oberleitungssystem für Lkw getestet. Dabei kommen zwei Diesel-Hybrid-Fahrzeuge des Fahrzeugherstellers Scania zum Einsatz, die in Zusammenarbeit mit Siemens für den Einsatz unter der Oberleitung angepasst wurden. Mit dem zweijährigen Testbetrieb möchten die schwedische Transportbehörde Trafikverket und der Regierungsbezirk Gävleborg Erkenntnisse darüber sammeln, ob sich das Siemens-eHighway-System für eine zukünftige dauerhafte kommerzielle Nutzung und einen weiteren Ausbau eignet. Denn das Land hat ehrgeizige Umweltziele ausgerufen: Schwedens Transportsektor soll bis 2030 unabhängig von fossilen Brennstoffen sein. The first eHighway system on a public road opened in June 2016. For the coming two years, a Siemens catenary system for trucks will be tested on a two-kilometer stretch of the E16 highway north of Stockholm. The trial will use two diesel hybrid vehicles manufactured by Scania and adapted, in collaboration with Siemens, to operate under the catenary system. During the two-year trial, Sweden's Transport Administration Trafikverket and Gävleborg County want to create a knowledge base on whether the Siemens eHighway system is suitable for future commercial use and further deployment. As part of its climate protection strategy, Sweden has committed to having a fossil fuel independent transport sector by 2030.[Image Source: Scania/ Siemens]

The overhead electricity system works in coordination with Scania trucks, where it will undergo a 2-year preliminary trial. Sometimes the most innovative solutions are the ones which you already have. Of course, this system has yet to be completely proven and field tested, but considering that it worked for decades in cities, it is off to a good start. These e-highway trucks don't just only operate on overhead power, they are also fitted with normal combustion engines as a backup, as well as electric engines and battery storage, according to Siemens.

Mehr Güter auf die Schiene zu verlagern, ist nicht immer möglich. Dann muss ein zuverlässiger und möglichst umweltschonender Lkw-Transport diese Aufgaben übernehmen. Der eHighway ist im Vergleich zu Verbrennungsmotoren doppelt so effizient. Die Siemens-Innovation versorgt Lkw über eine Oberleitung mit Strom. Das bedeutet nicht nur eine Halbierung des Energieverbrauchs sondern auch eine Verringerung der lokalen Luftverschmutzung. As it will not always possible to transfer more freight traffic to the rail, this traffic will have to be carried by trucks that combine reliable service with minimum environmental impact. The eHighway is twice as efficient as internal combustion engines. The Siemens innovation supplies trucks with power from an overhead contact line. This means that not only is energy consumption cut in half but also local air pollution is reduced.[Image Source: Scania/ Siemens]

These electronic trucks are fitted with a pantograph system that can raise and lower in order to harness power from the overhead electricity grid. When the truck needs to overtake a vehicle or is simply in a stretch of road without the system, it operates as normal. Unlike new technology, all of the infrastructure to implement this system is already well understood and can be easily manufactured. If this power technique does prove to be commercially viable, we could see wide-scale implementation of the overhead lines in the next 10 years.

Beim Folgeprojekt ENUBA 2 ging Siemens eine Partnerschaft mit der schwedischen Firma Scania ein. Im Fokus steht die optimierte Integration der Antriebstechnik und Stromabnehmer in das Fahrzeug sowie die Bereitstellung der erforderlichen Verkehrssteuerungssysteme. Das Bild zeigt eine Fahrszene auf der erweiterten eHighway Teststrecke in Groß Dölln. In the follow-up project, ENUBA 2, Siemens entered into a partnership with Scania, a Swedish company. The focus is on optimizing the integration of the drive system and pantograph into the vehicle and on providing the necessary traffic control systems. The picture shows a driving scene at the extended eHighway test track in Groß Dölln, Germany[Image Source: Scania/ Siemens]

The ultimate kick of fossil fuels and pollution will come when the overhead electricity grid is completely supplied by renewables. European countries like Portugal and Germany are well on their way to a fully renewable energy system, but the USA will still need quite a bit of time. Siemens has created an in-depth look at the ehighway system which can be seen in the video below.

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Trevor is a civil engineer (B.S.) by trade and an accomplished writer with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. He is also a published children’s book author and the producer for the YouTube channel Concerning Reality.