High voltage for the highway

Sweden has opened the world’s first e-highway, where trucks can drive with electricity from overhead cables. Trains and trams are often powered by overhead lines. That’s rather normal. In some cities – especially in China and Russia – busses are also powered the same way. So why shouldn’t it work with trucks? In two pilot projects in Sweden and California, Siemens is now testing electrified road transport. In Sweden the first e-highway was opened on a two-kilometre section of the E16 motorway. This is where two diesel hybrid vehicles by the vehicle manufacturer Scania are used. They have been adjusted in collaboration with Siemens to operate under the overhead line. With this two-year test the Swedish transport authority Trafikverket and the region of Gävleborg now want to gather information on whether the Siemens e-highway system is suitable for future permanent commercial use and further expansion. Sweden has set itself the ambitious goal of managing without any fossil fuels in the transport sector by 2030. In Carson, California, a similar project is currently ongoing in cooperation with the regional authority for monitoring air quality and the vehicle manufacturer Volvo.

[Photo: Siemens]
[Photo: Siemens]

Only half as much energy needed

The principle: The hybrid trucks are equipped with sensors. They can automatically attach to overhead lines and then drive literally without emissions.
The core element of the system is an intelligent pantograph in combination with a hybrid drive system. A sensor system enables the pantograph to establish contact with the overhead contact line or to interrupt it at speeds of up to 90 km/h. Accordingly equipped trucks are supplied with electricity from overhead wires while driving, thus providing efficient and locally emission-free transport. On roads without overhead lines a hybrid motor drives the truck.
The advantages: Energy consumption is halved. Air pollution and CO2 emissions can be reduced significantly.

Author: Anne Goergen

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