Imagine a mass public transportation system capable of transporting people around the city without producing any local emissions, without requiring overhead power lines, and without any lengthy stops to recharge. Now stop imagining, because a new charging system for electric buses could make that a reality in the near future, by "flash-charging" the onboard batteries in as little as 15 seconds.
The new technology, developed by ABB, will be put into operation on a large capacity electric bus in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of a pilot project called Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation (TOSA).
According to ABB, the bus can be charged with a 15 second, 400 kilowatt boost at selected stops, which allows for the vehicle to top off its charge while the passengers are loading or leaving the bus, and a 3 to 4 minute charge at the end of the bus line will then fully recharge the batteries.
"Through flash charging, we are able to pilot a new generation of electric buses for urban mass transport that no longer relies on overhead lines. This project will pave the way for switching to more flexible, cost-effective, public transport infrastructure while reducing pollution and noise." - Claes Rytoft, acting Chief Technology Officer at ABB
The flash charger uses a laser-controlled arm to connect the receptacle on the bus with the charger, which could be integrated into the bus stop itself. This type of system could allow for electric buses to replace trolleys and subway systems in urban areas, and in the process, get rid of unsightly overhead power lines used to feed them.
The system, which was designed and optimized for high-frequency bus routes in key urban areas, is being billed as a "zero carbon emission" solution, because the energy to power the pilot project in Geneva comes from hydropower, but that designation would be somewhat inaccurate in areas where electricity comes from coal or natural gas plants.
The TOSA pilot project will be operating bus runs between the Geneva airport and the city’s international exhibition center, Palexpo.