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Electrify the Highway for EVs

  1. Jul 12, 2011 #1
    Why not create a modernized electrified highway. Then a large battery would not be needed for long distance travel. Consider a way to integrate a Maglev like electric supply system with an Interstate Highway. Rails wont work on the highway, but if you could make it a flat strip it might be possible that the EV could harness the power as it drives down the road with an arm from underneath the car that collects electricity.

    The arm itself could have a combination of magnets, sensors, and flexibility so that the car itself does not have to travel a perfect line down the road. Meaning people could still swerve a little and the car could still collect energy. It wouldn't change the way we drive. Just the power source we use to get from a to b.

    Pro- we could use Coal, Nuclear, Alternative, anything but foreign Oil.

    What do you think? Is it possible? I say it is possible today without any more advances in technology. It would cost a lot to build however.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2011 #2


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    It's possible of course. Perhaps it's not a good idea though. I'll assume there is a way to keep the highway safe (this is likely a bad assumption without adding a whole lot of cost).

    Think about the power required to keep one car running at 65mph.
    This link can help with that:

    Then read this link:

    Then think about how many cars are on the freeway at rush hour and how far they are from a given power plant at rush hour.

    Then, where does the extra power capacity come from (new plants?) How to charge for the power? How do you measure the power one car consumes to correctly charge for it? Who eats the cost of the power lost in the transmission?

    An interesting exercise could be to compare the power in the calculations above to the cost of one gallon of gas using the electrical rate in your neck of the woods.

    I am not totally sure how it would turn out. The power consumed at the load is possibly cheaper than gas, but I think getting that power to the car might be pricy.
  4. Jul 13, 2011 #3


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    Another interesting calculation might be the power to accelerate 10 cars behind a stop light to 25mph. The grid would have to support that point load (more or less) at basically every intersection in a city.

    Also, what happens in bad weather?
  5. Jul 13, 2011 #4
    All interesting points, yes I've considered it would take new power plants to put out that much electricity. I was thinking nuclear plants would be best to supply extra needed. Not a popular choice right now considering Japan. That is a huge amount of electricity at rush our for an area like Tampa, an amazing amount.

    Other hurdles I've been considering is repaving, and weather like rain and snow.
    Plus how is a driver going to pay for power used on the road, huge issue.
    Extra power is an issue with any EV resolution!
  6. Jul 13, 2011 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    This would cost an enormous amount of money.
  7. Jul 13, 2011 #6


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    I wonder what the cost of switching out the infrastructure would be vs say, buying every registered driver a chevy volt. It's likely cheaper to just buy everybody an electric car. :)
  8. Jul 14, 2011 #7
    Ya maybe.
  9. Jul 23, 2011 #8
    The best efficiency and limited energy user scenario is to 1) eliminate personal cars and 2) eliminate the need for cars (eliminate suburbs and urbanify population densities higher so that mass transit hits economic hurdles.

    Will that happen in the US? Probably not, which is why Peak Oil is going to hurt bad and why the US is starting wars of aggression all over the place to avoid that hurt.
  10. Aug 7, 2011 #9
    Congratulation rexreid for the forward thinking question!
    Note for the devil advocates: your inputs are very useful to identify risks & obstacles before they arise. This being said, I suggest you propose possible solutions to each problem. It will give a positive spin that will avoid our thinking you work for a muffler manufacturer... ;)

    A concept is being promoted in Quebec (Canada) to develop a high speed public transportation system based on a high power electric motor-wheel designed in the 90's in Varenne nearby Montreal by scientists working for a public electricity research institute (here's the link to the division of Hydro-Quebec which own the patents: http://www.tm4.com/electric_corner_module.aspx). The concept in question is a suspended monorail using 16 wheel-motors, able to rapidly accelerate about 60 people to 250 km/h (155 mph). This infrastructure would link the major cities of the province. See the following links for a depiction of the concept:http://trensquebec.qc.ca/description-du-monorail & http://web.mac.com/pierrelanglois/PLanglois-PCA_Eng/Home.html [Broken] (lower left section)

    The tours and rails would be located in the free area between the lanes of opposite directions on the highway. Since the rail itself would be covered, it could operate in snow storms and freezing rain without the need for snow plowing (a high priority concern for those of us up north). The monorail would be high enough to pass above the overpasses making this affordable compared to the cost of re-building our rapidly aging roads (because of the harsh climate in our area).

    Assuming this comes to fruition some day (may this day come soon), the cars on the highway would have access to an energy grid. With a properly equipped car (i.e. With a pair of electric motor-wheel and a retractable & steerable pole to tap onto power lines beneth the monorail & about 15 feets above ground) the cars could use the electric energy. The cars could use their own batteries to accelerate to reduce the load on the grid. With the motor-wheel of TM4, the decelarations are used to return energy in the system (batteries or grid). When in a traffic jam, the motor-wheel don't use energy.

    In town, these cars would use batteries or a secondary combustion engine (i.e.: hybrid cars).

    In Quebec, our grid is mainly energized by hydro and wind power. This would make this transport strategy the cleanest in the world. The same couldn't be said for states using coal to generate electricity...

    Theree are a lot of technical challenges but whenwe think about it, there was a lot of challenges with fossile fuel burning cars. Nearly a century of research, engineering and trial/errors went into it. We need to put pressure on our governments representitive to get investments done in this domain. If the government don't work on putting the infrastructure in place, the car companies won't. I seriously doubt GM would build cars it they had to build the roads themselves too. Same with electrified highways and high speed public transport. The public sector has to invest in this area to foster development of a green transport economy.

    Keep on the brainstorming and ask questions to your government representatives.
    See the following link for an example of citizen based lobbying: http://electrifiedhighway.com/Page_2.php [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  11. Aug 7, 2011 #10


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    Thanks for having a positive first post.:approve:

    For years I have had an idea that might have merit and yes, likely too many reasons that it might not be feasible. It started developing in my mind in the early 70's after having my windshield covered with water splashed by another car on my right and slightly ahead of mine.
    The control of energy using hydraulics and transfer to electrical generation can be accomplished by the use of grid pads placed at locations where brake use is normally required.
    The pads would be engineered to withstand all weights of traffic and consist of plunger dowels spaced very close to each other and have a calculated down stroke that would push a quantity of fluid through a check valve, the number of plungers engaged would be dependent on the width of tires on a vehicle. This fluid would be transmitted to accumulators and used as needed to drive generators that supply power to the road system.

    Any area of speed reduction would be a taxation point and long downgrades in mountain areas would generate power for the vehicles on the upward path.

    A project to electrify highways would be a positive for any country if financial abuse would be held to a minimum. World War II generated a need for the masses in producing things needed for the war effort, today with new technology this kind of massive effort is not in demand. The need for new business and related job creation, just might negate the cost objection. (just my opinion)

    Thanks for the link

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  12. Aug 7, 2011 #11
    No one has yet mentioned the issue that drove the original such system out of use decades ago.

    How does a vehicle turn into another street or road?

    It must leave (disconnect from) any power rail or line running along one road and cross the powerless gap and reconnect to another rail in the other street.

    Such a system was once in use for trolley-busses using overhead pickups. There were some quite ingenious attempts at solutions to the junction problem.

    go well
  13. Aug 8, 2011 #12
    What voltage are you thinking of using, low voltage and you'll need massive conductors, high voltage and every pedestrian who trips over gets fried, the fireworks whenever a gritting lorry goes past will be entertaining though.
  14. Aug 9, 2011 #13
    Some of you may find this interesting.

    http://solarroadways.com/main.html [Broken]

    I came across this project maybe a year ago. This is an Idaho based company that is developing solar highway panels. They are basically solar panels that you drive on. It makes a lot of sense, watch the video's on there site. Asphalt is a petroleum product that has increased in cost by 400% in the last 4 years. Continued trends such as this may make a technology such as driving on glass economically feasible.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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