Electric Road to Charge Vehicles

MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

Near the center of Lund, Sweden, construction is about to begin on the city’s first prototype of an electric road. Elonroad, having no relation to Elon Musk, is the tech company behind the idea.

The Idea

According to Fast Company, Dan Zethraeus, CEO and founder of Elonroad, said that the idea began when he started contemplating purchasing an electric vehicle. However, he believed that the driving time might be too short. Currently, the range of electric cars is a little over 200 miles before a driver would have to recharge their vehicle.

As a result, Zethraeus’ company began thinking of how it could develop a new charging infrastructure for all electric vehicles. What the company came up with is a conductive rail laid on top of existing roads and highways that would charge vehicles through an attachment that could be built into any electric vehicle, ultimately charging the battery whilst driving.

From this design, Elonroad and Lund University built a 200-meter (656-foot) test track in 2017, with reports of successful testing ever since. According to Elonroad, the electric charging system automatically charged electric vehicles without any overhanging cables or other electronic assistance.

Green Benefits

One benefit of this new technology is the future possibility of developing new, smaller batteries, resulting in less mining efforts for lithium and other materials that otherwise pollute the environment. “The less material we use for batteries, the better,” adds Zethraeus.

With the help of researchers at Lund University, it is estimated that with the startup’s new electric infrastructure, batteries could be built up to 80% smaller. This adjustment in size would not only help the environment, but make the electric vehicles themselves more affordable, which could potentially lead to more electric cars on the road and less carbon pollution being added to the atmosphere.

A previous article by Fast Company notes that purchasing an electric car will cost the equivalent of purchasing a fossil-powered vehicle by 2022. The encouraged transition is paired with Sweden’s target of achieving independence from fossil fuels by 2030, which will require a 70% reduction in the transportation sector.

The county already opened an electric highway, similar to Elonroad’s rail design, in Stockholm last year.

What’s Happening Now

The ELVÄG SYD consortium has been given the testing assignment from the Swedish Transport Administration to build a sample demonstration plant for electric roads in Lund based on Elonroad’s concept.

Slated to be installed over one kilometer (.62 miles) of an existing bus lane, an electric rail will be installed on top of the road. According to Elonroad, if the assignment goes well, the conductive rails won’t have to be installed on every road.

“If [a car] drives one kilometer on our electric road, it can drive another two kilometers on the energy it charged from our road,” Zethraeus says.

“So it makes a total of three kilometers of driving. But you only pay for one kilometer of [installation].”

Already in Lund, calculations show that all the city buses would be able to properly charge if just the main road in the city had a rail installed (since every bus takes that route).

Project construction is expected to begin by 2020.


Tagged categories: Energy efficiency; EU; Europe; Infrastructure; Power; Program/Project Management; Rail; Roads/Highways; Technology

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.