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Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 2:19 PM

There is an experimental electric truck operating in California. It uses trolley car technology that is 150 years old. It is a concept that has been used in many cities known as "trackless trolleys", buses with trolley poles mounted on top. It is a well proven technology and it is now being applied to OTR trucks. The idea is very sound and everything needed to make it a reality is/has been available for a long time. Nothing new has to be developed to make it work. Power pickups on top of the truck will use power transmitted by overhead wires strung along major arteries. Onboard batteries will allow the truck to leave the overhead wire for trips off the wire for local pickup/delivery. This all sounds too good to become a reality and it probably is; Energy companies (oil) will not allow this to happen.

There are so many good answers to our everyday problems, but they are not implemented because of resistance to change.

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#1

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 2:28 PM
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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 2:55 PM

I was trying to post that picture, but could not. Such a vehicle would run off single phase power. I don't think 3 phase would be practical unless they used an onboard MG set to convert single to 3 phase. I suspect maintenance would be an issue with overhead wires. Trucks would have to be equipped with sensors that would detect low overpasses and automatically drop the pickups. The truck would either "coast" through the overpass, or switch to battery backup. At any rate, the idea is sound.

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#14
In reply to #2

Re: Electric Trucks

06/27/2016 4:10 AM

650V DC supply with inverters running AC motors is the system all modern UK tram systems use.

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#3

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 3:10 PM

Sounds ridiculously expensive....who will pay?

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 3:24 PM

It is a go ahead project in several countries in Europe. As usual, we will drag our heels with endless studies and federal regulations. By the time we adopt it, the cost will be 10x more. Look at China and their high speed rail. We are still conducting studies while China will be way ahead of us; that we will never be able to catch up.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 5:51 PM

Like SE says, infrastructure is very expensive. And in this case, it's very ugly too. Overhead wires and guys and posts all over the place. Yuck.

We drag our heels on bad ideas, thank goodness.

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#8
In reply to #4

Re: Electric Trucks

06/25/2016 12:40 AM

Why would anyone want to "catch up with China"?

We are not China.

To suggest that we string HV lines with their poles and transformers and attendant problems all across the country is not sound thinking.

My city just finished a three mile section of light rail line last year. The supporting infrastructure is very imposing. Not talking about the overhead lines. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Giant copper cabling below ground, huge transformers every 1/4 mile and much more. That costs $70 million per mile and there's only 23 miles of it.

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#6

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 6:45 PM

Pretty ugly....

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#7

Re: Electric Trucks

06/24/2016 10:45 PM

They had streetcars like that in Milwaukee when I was a kid.

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#9

Re: Electric Trucks

06/25/2016 4:13 AM
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#10

Re: Electric Trucks

06/25/2016 9:36 AM

Electrification of highways doesn't seem to be a good idea:

1- Very expensive per user in most areas

2-Highways are where the trucks are the most efficient => less fuel saving than in the cities

It would give a better return to do it in cities but people don't want to see the infrastructure.

Actually, we could save cost by only electrifying the roads near intersections where traffic starts and stop. This way we collect the breaking energy and supply it to the starting vehicles. A simple hybrid vehicle would allow the use of relatively small diesel engines and batteries to supply the constant speed power needed between intersections.

With this concept, the wireless infrastructure becomes more feasible.

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#11

Re: Electric Trucks

06/25/2016 1:45 PM

As everything electrifies, I have pondered why NOPSI dispensed with the electric (overhead wire) bus system in New Orleans. Other than no detours allowed, occasional power outages and the guide slipping of the wire during thunder storms, it was a cool system.

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Electric Trucks

06/25/2016 5:03 PM

I have been in several cities with electric buses. While I believe/d that the system was a solution looking for a problem, I suppose that it did somewhat reduce the smog and fumes in the urban areas; and, I have to admit, it looked pretty "cool"! On the other hand, though, someone was burning a lot of coal in -- and dirtying up -- some cleaner place, somewhere, to generate the electricity for the buses.

Let's not forget the conversion inefficiencies; fuel to electricity at seventy percent times electricity to motion at seventy percent equals fifty-one percent of the original fuel's energy being wasted as heat. Add transmission losses and so on, and ten kilowatt-hour's worth of coal yields about 3.8 kilowatt-hour's worth of moving buses -- or trucks -- around.

Put the fuel into the trucks, and you just about double the efficiency of the system -- all while saving the costs and hassles of installing, testing, and maintaining a fragile, complex system which is spread out over many thousands of square miles and subject to wear, accidents, and vandalism. Furthermore, if we run those wires down America's Interstate Highways, people will learn to sing and to talk with one another again because it's a sure bet that car radios will be adversely affected by the constant static of the arcs between the overhead catenaries and the pantographs on the trucks.

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#13

Re: Electric Trucks

06/27/2016 3:59 AM

Trams are making a big comeback in the UK, maybe trolley buses will come next. A lot less disruption caused by groundworks.

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#15

Re: Electric Trucks

07/04/2016 10:26 PM

Ronseto,

I grew up in San Francisco where there were at least 4 different forms of public transit in use simultaneously (and are still there today)--cable cars, electric trolley buses, electric street cars, and motor coaches. The hybrid or battery-backed system you discuss has been in use in Seattle for a number of years. The buses run on their trolleys when near the center or core of the Seattle area and on their other power source when away.

The power source for all this has been ~600VDC, which was quite expensive to construct decades ago because of the cost of centralized motor/generator plants with festoons of up to 40 heavy cables all running from them down the length of the trolley lines. Now, this is much easier to do with a distributed grid of transformers and rectifiers, also with a much lower cost to install and run.

I see no problem with taking this type of approach and extending it into a centralized power system for electric delivery trucks to use--they could have on-board smart meters that can be read any time required, and then be billed for the electricity used. Their backup power could be hybrid or battery. Once the infrastructure exists the vehicles could be built by any company wishing to follow a specified design for the electric pickup.

--JMM

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