Electric vehicles are a great option for personal use, but when it comes to public transportation, the technology has its limitations. Electric buses require overhead power lines or lengthy recharge times to stay running. But that may all change with TOSA’s new “flash-charging” stations, which can fully charge a bus in 15 seconds flat! That means the bus could be fully re-charged and ready to go in the time it takes to let people on and off at a stop.
The system is being put to the test in Geneva, Switzerland in a project called Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation (TOSA). As each bus comes to a stop, a laser-driven arm connects the bus to the charger, giving it a 400kW boost at selected stops. Then, at the end of the bus line, the bus can take a few minutes to recharge fully for the next trip.
The electricity for the project comes from clean hydroelectricity and the charging time is so quick that it won’t interfere with the flow of transportation. The roof-mounted charging system runs both the bus itself and the interior electronics like lighting. The flash-chargers will be placed at every 3rd or 4th stop and the shape of the charger will change to suit the needs of each stop.
The project is a partnership between several innovative companies, including ABB, OPI and the Geneva energy company SIG. If everything works as planned, it could spell the end for overhead lines and will give mass transit more flexibility and make cities more beautiful by removing the webbing of overhead power lines. “Through flash charging, we are able to pilot a new generation of electric buses for urban mass transport that no longer relies on overhead lines,” says Claes Rytoft, ABB’s CTO. “This project will pave the way for switching to more flexible, cost-effective, public transport infrastructure while reducing pollution and noise.”