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Monday, August 10, 2009

Linear Motor EV Super Highway concept

Here's an interesting idea. German designer Christian Förg has fleshed out his concept for extended range electric vehicles, without carrying an on-board generator. Put the motor itself in the road. While the vehicle concept may not be to everyone taste, this concept could in fact work with any electric vehicle.

Förg calls it a Speedway Transport System concept. The idea is, around town a car has it's own EV powertrain including motor, inverter and battery, a standard EV. When on the highway the power source is a linear induction motor embedded into the road surface. When the EV is on the linear motor road system the entire powertrain in the EV can either shut down or remain on stand by.

Förg says the linear motor can also charge an electric car’s battery so it’s ready for urban travel. “Only highways for long range distances will need to be upgraded,” he says “But even with this upgrade, the streets still can be used by conventional cars.”

We've seen linear motor systems before, the most successful being the German Maglev train running at 420 km/h in China and also as high powered launch systems for roller coasters. The main factor holding back the widespread adoption of super fast and efficient Maglev trains has been the construction costs of building the track.

A Maglev linear motor track is the world largest electric motor as the stator and motor windings cover the entire length of track. If the Maglev track is 100 km long, then the linear motors stator is 100 km long. With the levitation magnets on the train flying at 400+ km/h (250 mph) just 10 cm away from the motor windings in the track a major expense in constructing Maglevs is the extra engineering required to build and maintain track precision to extremely small tolerances to avoid high speed train to track contact.

In a roadway based propulsion only system with no levitation component this precision requirement in not needed and entirely new structures do not need to be built as the motor is burried in existing roads.

In combination with automated braking, steering and parking technologies already making their way into production cars, this concept could also form the back bone of an automated highway system. With current genertion Maglevs in routine service at 431 km/h (268 mph), able to cruise at up to 580 km/h (362 mph) in testing and with proposed enclosed systems where air resistance is removed being capable of up to 3,500 km/h the future potential is for this type of propulsion system is enormous.

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