Eco Buses or Trains Magnetically Getting Energy from the Road Launched in South Korea

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Starting at an amusement park in South Korea, but perhaps expanding much further in the future, a new type of large electric vehicle magnetically pulls power out of buried electrical strips under the road (or “recharging roads”).

This online electric vehicle (OLEV) may be “one of the most significant technical gains in the 21st century” according to its creators at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

The vehicle was launched at Seoul Grand Park in southern Seoul this week. If all goes well, it will soon be tried out on a bus route in Seoul as well. After that, who knows?

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Reportedly, the OLEV “needs a battery only one-fifth the size of conventional electric vehicles and eliminates the need for major recharging.”

The recharging strips for this first vehicle at Seoul Grand Park have been installed in four different segments of the vehicle’s route totaling about a quarter of a mile (0.4 kilometers).

KAIST has applied for more than a few patents for the technology — over 120! Although, the technology actually started out at the University of California-Berkeley, but without any tangible results.

Economically Superior

The economic efficiency of this system is said to be one of its best features.

“Of all the world’s electric vehicles, this is the most economical system,” KAIST President Suh Nam-Pyo told reporters. He claimed that the operating cost is only about one-third that of ordinary electric vehicles. “The potential for application [of this technology to public transport systems] is limitless. I dare say this is one of the most significant technical gains in the 21st century.”

The low cost of the system (no specific amount given) is due to the fact that the vehicle doesn’t need numerous or large batteries, recharging stations, overhead wires, its own right-of-way or a great deal of maintenance.

In Seoul, underground power lines would only need to be installed on about 20% of the total bus route.

Some Details of the System

For more information on how the system writes, KAIST reports: “The power pickup equipment installed underneath OLEV collects electricity from a roadway and distributes the power either to operate the vehicle or for battery storage. Whether running or stopped, OLEV constantly receives electric power through the underground cables. As a result, OLEV mitigates the burden of equipping electric automobiles with heavy, bulky batteries-OLEV’s battery size is one-fifth of the batteries installed in electric vehicles currently on the market.”

Also, if you immediately got concerned about electromagnetic radiation exposure from the system, this may help to alleviate your worries: “A selective provision of power to vehicles with the pickup equipment relieves safety concerns about electromagnetic radiation exposure to pedestrians or other conventional vehicles. EMF test results for OLEV are well below the 1998 the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guideline, 62.5mG at 20khz.”

Looks like an exciting new vehicle. How long until it hits other cities?

via Grist/Agence France-Presse & KAIST

Image Credit: KAIST


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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