Wireless charging for electric buses accelerates in US

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Link Transit has been operating wireless charging for its fleet of battery-electric buses since 2018, and has now announced that it has signed a five-year extension with its technology provider Momentum Dynamics.

Wireless charging is seen as one of the most effective methods to power-up the batteries of electric public transportation and this first-of-its-kind partnership will see Momentum Dynamics outfit 10 new Link Transit electric buses with wireless charging receivers. The technology is a proof of concept to the viability of the charging system, which enables the buses to recharge at select terminals during a route.

Via strategically-placed wireless chargers, a bus automatically adds energy to its battery over regular, short periods regardless of weather such as rain, snow and ice. For example, five minutes of additional charging ‘on-route’ can allow a bus to complete its route with a high state of charge. This flexible strategy of ‘graze charging’ means the bus never has to leave its route for depot charging and so can complete unlimited route cycles. The fully automated charging takes place during the bus’s routine transfer station stop.

Link Transit has operated a Momentum system in Wenatchee for over two years, with the State of Washington’s desire to reduce carbon emissions and the transit company plans to migrate to emissions-free electric buses as soon as possible.

As part of this plan, Link will add 10 new electric buses to its fleet in 2020, all of which will be fitted with Momentum Dynamics’ wireless charging receivers. As part of the agreement, Momentum will provide 3 new on-route charging stations, each capable of delivering 300kW.

“Automated wireless charging is a transformative technology,” said Momentum CEO Andrew Daga. “Wireless charging is extremely effective in operation and means that electric buses can now drive any route, without range anxiety, while maintaining an adequate energy reserve under all weather conditions. The extension of our relationship with Link Transit amply demonstrates that, and we are proud to partner with Link well into the future.”

In 2018, Link Transit commissioned the nation’s first 200-kilowatt wireless charging system for a battery-electric transit bus from Momentum Dynamics. The system has been operational on a BYD K9S bus since then.  Since installation, the system has delivered an impressive total power of 41MWh for its vehicle charging. Recently, the bus ran a 14-hour scheduled route and maintained its battery state-of-charge above 90% throughout the journey, without the need for driver intervention.  This is significant data, as proper management of battery levels – rather than a fueling model of “empty-full-empty,” is essential for battery longevity, which is particularly important when a new bus may be expected to remain in service for a minimum of 12 years.

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