Thursday, October 6, 2016

Electric Buses and New Technology

I have to admit that I do not always embrace everything about change and new technology. For sure I think the music from the 70’s and the 80’s was much better but I have always had a fascination with alternative energy.  Clever ways to approach engineering challenges have fascinated me as well.  In 2012 I had purchased a hybrid automobile the Toyota Prius and the primary reason was because the combination of technology combined to make a vehicle that was so fuel efficient was intriguing to me.

Electric Bus

My Hybrid Car

All Electric Car
Electric Powered Model Airplane Pearl E202

Although the hybrid technology has worked well I have also felt that a pure electric vehicle was the engineering goal. For models, flying and surface based (planes, multi-rotors, cars, and boats) the new lithium batteries and brushless motors have put the performance level equal or exceeding the more conventional alcohol-type fuel engines. For transportation large enough for people to ride in the problem of not enough range between recharging has been a legitimate concern.  Recently I was passed on the highway by a Nissan Leaf which is an all-electric vehicle which has good range for most trips, but not enough for long trips.

Overhead Charging of Electric Bus

While watching a business related TV show they were interviewing the CEO from Proterra a manufacturer of electric buses. The number of cities with some electric buses operating is constantly growing as is the practicality of putting the buses in place. Although the initial cost is higher than a diesel powered bus, the cost to operate these buses should be less not just because of the price of fuel but maintenance should be less also.  Many approaches have been used or have been thought of to solve the limited range issue. Besides better batteries and lighter buses, technology for fast charging the buses while operating the bus routes has been used so that the bus can drive the route continuously. The charging station can be either above or below the bus and the driver doesn’t even have to get out of the bus to do the charging process.

Many Buses use Composite Construction that includes Balsa Wood

Another approach to powering the electric bus is very large capacitors, a capacitor is an electronic component that will quickly take an electric charge and then release it.  Some toy free flight model airplanes use a capacitor to power the electric motor in place of batteries such as the Flash Fighter. The Science Olympiad competition had a trial event to build a model airplane powered by a capacitor which I had mentored a student far away to successfully build airplanes for the competition.

SO Capacitor Plane Built by Student

Finally I want to especially Thank Eric Williams: Vice President, Academy of Model Aeronautics,District II who is running for AMA president. He provided me with all of the images of electric buses.

Bill Kuhl

Electric Bus Videos  Proterra Battery Electric Bus Endurance Test King County Metro 2016   ELN - London trials first all-electric buses  Introducing HIGER Supercapacitor (UCAP) Electric Bus

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