Electric Bus and Inductive Power Research and Demonstration

This project is part of a major effort to develop an inductively charged electric bus suitable for hilly areas with a varied climate. Kansas University, Transportation Research Institute (KU TRI) is exploring ways in which alternative fuels can be utilized in transportation applications to reduce our nation's dependency on imported oil and to avoid the environmental impacts associated with the combustion of petroleum products. Of all the alternative fuel options, electricity is among the most desirable in terms of affordability, availability, security, and sustainability. Unfortunately, limitations in battery technology result in electric vehicle operating ranges that are more limited than those of internal combustion-powered vehicles. Although "opportunity charging" is one strategy for increasing the driving range of battery-powered electric buses by means of a series of brief recharges during normally scheduled midday layovers, it has yet to be embraced by the transit industry, in part because of the difficulties involved in having drivers connect and disconnect the bus from a charger at regular intervals throughout the day. The Wampfler Inductive Power Transfer system effectively removes this constraint by automating the charge process, thereby obviating the need for driver intervention. A research and demonstration project is proposed for a Wampfler opportunity charging system that will be paired with an electric bus. The goals of the project are to develop the needed systems to have an operational inductively charged electric bus, submit the bus to a spectrum of realistic operating scenarios, and conduct research on a number of open questions. This innovative experiment and research and newly developed technology will help define some of the operational constraints of such a system and thus help quantify its feasibility in a real-world scenario. The knowledge and experience acquired as a result can have widespread application to countless other campus shuttle systems throughout the nation. The University of Kansas (KU) is an ideal location for this project for several reasons. First, there is a comprehensive transportation system that serves the campus. This will provide several opportunities to utilize the bus in numerous novel ways. There is varied terrain as well as a seasonal climate, allowing for a more complete evaluation of the system under conditions that it would realistically encounter. All of these factors make the KU campus a particularly suitable place for this type of demonstration.