2014 Trucking News – eHighway Project Transforms US Trucking Industry
The extensive amount of natural gas in America has been increasing the need for alternative-fuel trucks. But, the introduction of the all-electric truck is also showing signs of being a good project.
FedEx and UPS are researching with all-electric vans in urban applications. These vans are already being used in Europe.
The number one problem in the United States is the moderately small amount of vehicles. On the other hand, vans do not use fossil fuels, and also do not create emissions – Particularly attractive benefits in smog-filled locations such as Houston, or Los Angeles.
The Siemens company, a longtime leader in railroads and technology, is rethinking a lot of its demonstrated rail ideas with an eye towards a strongly proficient low-emission commercial vehicle.
Siemens, a company based in Munich, Germany, feels its refined eHighway Project has the possibility to succeed in what would be dedicated eHighway corridors in America.
At the heart of this idea is a diesel-electric hybrid truck. Unlike the other hybrid trucks in the US, this vehicle uses a constant-state diesel engine to drive a strong torque-output electric motor, which is the similar principle that is used to drive diesel-electric trains from all over the world.
By using this mode, the Siemens hybrid drive system lets the truck work similarly like a usual diesel truck – Its driver can drive of freeways and in urban surroundings, just like in any type of truck.
But the benefit arrives once the vehicle pulls into a dedicated eHighway lane which features an overhead electrical line that is powered by substations. This technology is widespread on trains in some cities in Europe and Asia.
Once the truck is inside an eHighway lane, a monitoring sensor inside the truck’s nose locates the overhead power lines, and mechanically arranges a prong-shaped wand, called a pantograph. This acts as a conduit for the electrical power to travel to the electric motor.
eHighway project manager for Siemens, Holger Sommer, says that the company decided from the beginning that their idea would have to share eHighway lanes with usual truck traffic. This is mostly because constructing limited electric truck lanes would be too pricey.
Not only does the pantograph move up and down to make connections with the power lines, it can also move side to side to keep its contact, and offset regular steering input from the driver. Most notably, its system is very flexible. Trucks are not stuck in position, as if they were on a slot car track. The driver also keeps full control of all braking functions.
Any type of kinetic energy that is produced by a truck connected to the wires is automatically placed back into the grid, where it can be used by other trucks. If the sensor inside the truck’s nose is not working, then the driver can unlock the system by hand with simply pressing a button.
Because the vehicle basically is an electric truck with a constant-rate diesel engine, it can create instant high torque outputs without fuel consumption spikes. Lower-displacement diesel engines power the trucks and run constantly in their most competent modes, greatly lessening the cost of fuel and significantly cutting vehicle emissions, according to Sommer.