Almost a century and a half after Siemens changed the look of public transport, giving the world a tram, he made a new revolution. This time, Siemens has changed the look of freight traffic by launching in Germany the world's first electric highway that can be used to power trucks with electric motors while driving. Authorities have already allocated more than € 80 million for the project and will not stop – expecting green transport to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and help counteract global drowning. Siemens believes the project will not only save the country's ecology, but it will also be extremely beneficial to carriers due to huge fuel savings. Carriage of loads from the future – in the material "Tapes.ru".
Engineer Werner von Siemens – one of the founders of the Siemens group – presented his prototype of an electric tram 140 years ago, in 1879, at an industrial exhibition in Germany. It was a toy train running in the middle. The locomotive ate from the third rail and pulled three carriages behind him, six in each. The train barely reached a speed of six kilometers per hour, but its development was a terrible success: the train moved without steam and horse collisions, unlike the conventional horse-drawn tram, the forerunner of the electric tram. Only a few years later, on May 16, 1881, Siemens & Halske (the former name of Siemens' current concern) stepped forward and launched the first electric tram line. It is located on the outskirts of Berlin, between Lietherfeld and the Cadet Corps. The length of the route is 2.5 kilometers and the train is already up to 30 kilometers per hour. In the first three months, this tram has transported more than 12,000 passengers.
Photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia
Engineers, however, still had to solve a few problems, the main one being that the third contact rail was on the ground. In wet weather, a short circuit occurs regularly to stop the tram line. This question allowed by the American engineer Frank Spragg: In 1888 he installed a current collector on the roof of a tram that slid over the contact wire suspended on posts high above the ground. After such an improvement the trams became popular all over the world.
However, between the First and Second World Wars, the popularity of this transport has diminished due to the distribution of buses, trolleybuses and cars. Once again, the trams, and then the other electric transport, became relevant only a few decades later, with the growing urban population and industrial production. The increase in the number of cars and other petrol and diesel vehicles, the increase in traffic intensity has led to gas pollution, noise and congestion – they are still trying to find solutions to these problems in the world. However, Siemens seems to have figured out how to reduce emissions from freight traffic – the concern launched the world's first electric highway in Germany, where electric-powered trucks can be recharged while driving.
Siemens has been talking about the project since 2012, but they only started eHighway on May 7, 2019. This is not a new way in the full sense of the word, but a modified section of the old A5 motorway between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. On both sides of the route, over the extreme right row, cables with a voltage of 670 volts extend. Using these lines, hybrid trucks equipped with pantographs (trams) can be loaded on the move. The system works as follows: the wagon must be reorganized in the right-hand strap, press the pantographs and press them against the contact line. You can connect to the network and turn it off at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour.
The Hessen Ministry of Transport, on whose territory the road section is located, said that eHighway allows trucks to overtake without leaving the net. During the connection with the contact line, the wagons operate only on electric power and in offline mode switches to hybrid engines. If the contact lines are damaged or torn, for example, due to a hurricane, then the cable voltage will automatically shut off, Hessen's transport department said. In winter the cable protection system will work on the line.
Pilot versions of the electric highway tested in the US and Sweden. In Germany, she passed a test drive in December 2018 on the same A5 motorway, but then it was held at night, and the truck was on the way at a very low speed. Now the developers and the German authorities want to see how the system will work in real conditions – on a busy highway, with a lot of cars around. In the current mode, eHighway will work at least until 2022. Then, if the project succeeds, electrified routes will also occur in other regions of Germany. And eHighway can acquire a real historical scale. According to a study by the German Ministry of Transport in the future, up to 80% of freight traffic in Germany can be electrified.
EHighway was developed with funding from the federal German government. As part of the national strategy, Germany intends to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 2020 by 40% compared to 1990 levels. By the end of 2018, greenhouse gas emissions in Germany amounted to 866 million tonnes. Siemens believes that if 30% of freight transport in the country is replaced by electricity, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by seven million tons per year.
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The German government has already invests in the project about 15 million euros. In particular, this money was used to stretch power lines and build the necessary energy infrastructure. The same amount will be spent for the next three years to test the system. More than 70 million euros were spent on the creation of Scania and Volkswagen hybrid trucks to route this route by testing its capabilities in real-world traffic conditions. However, Siemens is convinced that the project will be useful not only from an environmental point of view.
The company estimates that the use of hybrid cargo transportation can significantly reduce the cost of fuel carriers: savings for the owner of a 40 ton truck will be 16 thousand dollars per 100 thousand kilometers. The company notes that short-haul eHighway equipment, where trucks run on the shuttle principle, can be particularly useful. In particular, these are roads connecting cargo ports, distribution centers and mines with warehouses.
Siemens has a real opportunity to promote the use of electric trucks in freight traffic as eHighway solves one of the main problems of green transport – the length of engine charging and the modest distances that electric cars can travel without recharging. But eHighway is not the only option. In Sweden, a method for recharging a car on the move has been developed. There they decided to put the electrical contact line not through the tape but directly into it. A contact rail was built into the roadway; To recharge, the vehicle must be equipped with a current collector that the driver connects to the grid before driving.
After crossing the section of the track with a contact rail, the vehicle will automatically shut off and will continue to run without recharging. In case of overtaking, the network will also open automatically. The system works on the principle of a conventional exit – there is no tension on the surface of the rail, but to reach the area where there is electricity, you have to go deeper with five to six centimeters. Such a stretch of road was put into test mode in 2018; The construction of one kilometer costs one million euros, but the developers say it is 50 times cheaper than the construction of a similar tram line.
The American went further Qualcomm, which is not connected to electric vehicles, is a mobile processor maker and creator of Quick Charge technology. Qualcomm has created a Halo system, the use of which allows electric vehicles to charge the engine in the direction of movement without physical connection to the grid. The system works on the principle of wireless charging devices. In the gauge of the roadway are installed special plates that transmit energy; to recharge, the car should move directly over that track. The system was tested in 2017. While being powered by such an energy source, the car can run at speeds up to 100 kilometers per hour.
Without solving the problem of charging the engine with hybrid trucks, it will be difficult to compete with diesel wagons. By comparison, the Tesla Semi electric truck with a capacity of 500 horsepower to charge the battery lasts 800 kilometers and the truck's charging time is 40 minutes. At the same time, the Kenworth W900 with the same engine power, thanks to its fuel tanks, can travel more than two thousand kilometers without fuel. Thus, diesel transport is still more beneficial to hauliers in terms of time spent in the delivery of goods or raw materials to their destination.