A completely wireless power transmission technology capable of powering high-capacity transport (such as high-speed rail, harbor freight, and airport transportation) has been developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI). It is able to supply a steady and constant 60 kHz and 180 kW of power remotely.
The technology has already been showcased to the public on the railroad tracks at Osong Station in Korea. “Originally, this technology was developed as part of an electric vehicle system introduced by KAIST in 2011 known as the On-line Electric Vehicle (OLEV),” KAIST writes. “OLEV does not need to be parked at a charging station to have a fully powered battery. It gets charged while running, idling, and parking, enabling a reduction in size of the reserve battery down to one-fifth of the battery on board a regular electric car.”
The first models of OLEV are a bus and a tram, which receive 20 kHz and 100 kW of power “at an 85% transmission efficiency rate while maintaining a 20cm air gap between the underbody of vehicle and the road surface.” In only a couple of months, in July 2013, OLEV will be put to the test on a regular road for the first time.
This new technology shows that OLEV can also be used for larger-scaled systems, such as high-speed rail.
“We have greatly improved the OLEV technology from the early development stage by increasing its power transmission density by more than three times. The size and weight of the power pickup modules have been reduced as well. We were able to cut down the production costs for major OLEV components, the power supply, and the pickup system, and in turn, OLEV is one step closer to being commercialized,” says Professor Dong-Ho Cho, Director of Center for Wireless Power Transfer Technology Business Development at KAIST.
Powering trains wirelessly could do a great deal to cut down on total costs. Primarily, because wear and tear on the railways will be greatly limited. There are other significant advantages also, far less equipment and infrastructure needed along the rail lines, resulting in less space being taken taken up (and smaller tunnels), further cutting down on costs. “In addition, it will be helpful to overcome major obstacles that discourage the construction of high speed railway systems such as noise levels and problems in connecting pantograph and power rails.”
The current plan is for the wireless power transmission technology to be tested using trams in May, followed in September by high-speed trains.
The technology could potentially be a great boon for high-speed rail, cutting down on needed space and costs enough that it can developed in places that it otherwise wouldn’t.
Image Credits: KAIST