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Author Topic: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"  (Read 3469 times)

SkyPesos

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"The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« on: October 25, 2021, 11:12:38 AM »

Found this video in my Youtube sub box today, and the topic seems pretty interesting, about trucks using an overhead line and pantograph on a German freeway to power it (similar to a train), instead of a battery or other sources of fuel. From the video, it seems like the main goal of this is to reduce emissions and fuel usage.
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SSR_317

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2021, 07:21:13 PM »

Interesting. I know several U.S. cities where they have so-called "trolley buses" or streetcars which still use overhead contact system (OCS) wires to provide power to the vehicles, and of course it's common on electrified rail and transit systems, but this is this is the first I've ever seen trucks powered this way. I wonder how they handle billing the trucking companies for use of that system?
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MikieTimT

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2021, 09:58:49 AM »

Interesting. I know several U.S. cities where they have so-called "trolley buses" or streetcars which still use overhead contact system (OCS) wires to provide power to the vehicles, and of course it's common on electrified rail and transit systems, but this is this is the first I've ever seen trucks powered this way. I wonder how they handle billing the trucking companies for use of that system?

They would likely need some sort of transponder in the pantograph itself, or just use the Qualcomm system that the companies themselves use to track the trucks.  It's really kind of a no-brainer, century-old technology that gets us past the need to put an enormous battery in the truck itself, like Tesla is attempting to do.  There would only need to be a much smaller battery for the parts of the route off the interstate system.  After regenerating a battery back to full on downhill runs, the truck could regen into the wire to put power back into the system as well.
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bwana39

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2021, 11:17:19 AM »

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MikieTimT

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2021, 05:57:03 PM »

The city busses in  San Francisco operate like this.

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Muni-trolley-wire-visual-pollution-electrifies-5056671.php

Seattle has some routes with electric buses as well.  I seem to never see more than a couple of people on them at a time, albeit, I may not be seeing them at peak times when I visit my brother.
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Bruce

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2021, 07:14:01 PM »

The city busses in  San Francisco operate like this.

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Muni-trolley-wire-visual-pollution-electrifies-5056671.php

Seattle has some routes with electric buses as well.  I seem to never see more than a couple of people on them at a time, albeit, I may not be seeing them at peak times when I visit my brother.

In pre-COVID times, they were packed on weekdays but have "good enough" frequency to not leave riders stranded. This blog post has some of the March 2019 and March 2020 average weekday ridership stats, which I'll copy below for the respective trolleybus routes:

Route 7 - 10,981 (2019) - 11,193 (2020)
Route 36 - 9,407 (2019) - 9,037 (2020)
Route 44 - 9,783 (2019) - 8,390 (2020)
Route 70 - 9,050 (2019) - 7,100 (2020)

The other trolleybus routes (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 36, 43, 44, 47 [suspended], 49, and 70) have their ridership updated in system evaluations.

The trolleybuses do require extra awareness while driving to keep the contacts on the wire, as they can and will dewire on tight turns. The driver then has to get out and manually rehook them (though the newer gen of buses can use battery power to scoot out of an intersection).
« Last Edit: November 27, 2021, 07:17:06 PM by Bruce »
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kernals12

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2021, 03:09:12 PM »

Indiana and Michigan will be testing out something like this except the electricity comes from the concrete instead of overhead wires.

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SkyPesos

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2021, 03:17:11 PM »

Indiana and Michigan will be testing out something like this except the electricity comes from the concrete instead of overhead wires.
Will it work like catenary free trams, where there’s a “power rail” (for the lack of a better term) on the ground, and only powered when a truck’s collector shoe is over it?
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kernals12

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2021, 04:04:42 PM »

Indiana and Michigan will be testing out something like this except the electricity comes from the concrete instead of overhead wires.
Will it work like catenary free trams, where there’s a “power rail” (for the lack of a better term) on the ground, and only powered when a truck’s collector shoe is over it?
No, it's contact free, like those inductive cell phone chargers.
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kalvado

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2021, 04:41:53 PM »

Indiana and Michigan will be testing out something like this except the electricity comes from the concrete instead of overhead wires.
Will it work like catenary free trams, where there’s a “power rail” (for the lack of a better term) on the ground, and only powered when a truck’s collector shoe is over it?
No, it's contact free, like those inductive cell phone chargers.
And works nice for electric scooters parked 8nto the rack

On a serious note, overhead wires limit vertical clearance for oversized cargo in a very unforgiving way.  That may be another thing to think about.
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SSR_317

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2021, 03:11:42 PM »

The city busses in  San Francisco operate like this.

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Muni-trolley-wire-visual-pollution-electrifies-5056671.php
I've been on the Muni trolley buses, during visits to 'Frisco. The City by the Bay seems to have nearly every type of transit system known to mankind, except for High-Speed Rail (which is coming there, eventually).
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Rick Powell

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2021, 03:55:17 PM »

On a serious note, overhead wires limit vertical clearance for oversized cargo in a very unforgiving way.  That may be another thing to think about.

And the fact that trolley buses can keep their trolley poles or pantographs engaged fairly easily going 25-30 mph and driving carefully, but a caravan of trucks going 70 mph may not be that easy to do...and how could you switch lanes on a multi-lane highway, except at an interval with an overhead catenary crossover? OTOH, maybe having a single wire set over the right hand lane will eliminate those annoying LLB truckers.  :spin:
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Dirt Roads

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2021, 08:09:30 AM »

On a serious note, overhead wires limit vertical clearance for oversized cargo in a very unforgiving way.  That may be another thing to think about.

And the fact that trolley buses can keep their trolley poles or pantographs engaged fairly easily going 25-30 mph and driving carefully, but a caravan of trucks going 70 mph may not be that easy to do...and how could you switch lanes on a multi-lane highway, except at an interval with an overhead catenary crossover? OTOH, maybe having a single wire set over the right hand lane will eliminate those annoying LLB truckers.  :spin:

There's no technical reason that trolley buses cannot operate at higher speeds using a pantograph.  The pantograph does need to be designed for the wear-and-tear associated with higher speeds (ergo, more round trips per hour equates to more wear).  Trolley poles are a whole different story.

The catenary-powered trucks that are being tested in Europe are diesel-hybrid.  To change lanes, they must drop their catenary to engage the diesel engine.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that they employ diesel-electric gensets that continue to supply power to the electric motors.  However, there is no reason that direct-drive can't be used just like hybrid cars here in the United States.  California is studying a version that would use CNG (compressed natural gas) engines for operations off of the trolley wire. 

Battery technology can also be used as the hybrid energy source.  In the trolley-bus industry, there was a push some 15 years ago to develop a battery backup to bridge the gap between sections of trolley wire.  This technology is now used in the LRT world.  Charlotte CATS recently purchased battery-hybrid LRVs to run off-the-grid in the Uptown section so as to avoid installing catenary in the skyscraper zone.  That's exactly backwards of how this technology was envisioned.

There are some complications of any hybrid power system when using controllers to smooth out the changeover from one power source to another.  The mechanical solution of a direct drive engine eliminates an expensive onboard electrical system.
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kalvado

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Re: "The highway where trucks work like electric trains"
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2021, 10:35:46 AM »

On a serious note, overhead wires limit vertical clearance for oversized cargo in a very unforgiving way.  That may be another thing to think about.

And the fact that trolley buses can keep their trolley poles or pantographs engaged fairly easily going 25-30 mph and driving carefully, but a caravan of trucks going 70 mph may not be that easy to do...and how could you switch lanes on a multi-lane highway, except at an interval with an overhead catenary crossover? OTOH, maybe having a single wire set over the right hand lane will eliminate those annoying LLB truckers.  :spin:

There's no technical reason that trolley buses cannot operate at higher speeds using a pantograph.  The pantograph does need to be designed for the wear-and-tear associated with higher speeds (ergo, more round trips per hour equates to more wear).  Trolley poles are a whole different story.

The catenary-powered trucks that are being tested in Europe are diesel-hybrid.  To change lanes, they must drop their catenary to engage the diesel engine.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that they employ diesel-electric gensets that continue to supply power to the electric motors.  However, there is no reason that direct-drive can't be used just like hybrid cars here in the United States.  California is studying a version that would use CNG (compressed natural gas) engines for operations off of the trolley wire. 

Battery technology can also be used as the hybrid energy source.  In the trolley-bus industry, there was a push some 15 years ago to develop a battery backup to bridge the gap between sections of trolley wire.  This technology is now used in the LRT world.  Charlotte CATS recently purchased battery-hybrid LRVs to run off-the-grid in the Uptown section so as to avoid installing catenary in the skyscraper zone.  That's exactly backwards of how this technology was envisioned.

There are some complications of any hybrid power system when using controllers to smooth out the changeover from one power source to another.  The mechanical solution of a direct drive engine eliminates an expensive onboard electrical system.
Well, I read about electric buses doing 60+ MPH, and Acela can do 150. I don't see speed as a show-stopper once there is some demand  (and actual money to back that up).
California grid issues are a completely different story, though.
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