Trucks Powered by Overhead Wires May Reduce Air Pollution
This week the world was introduced to the Tesla Semi. The battery-powered big rig is capable of transporting a 40-ton load 500 miles without recharging. Meanwhile, the Deutschland based technology company Siemens has conceived an idea for grid-powered tractor trailers that require no recharging.
Siemens plans involve powering semis through a series of wires known as a catenary system. A “what’s old is new again” sort of approach catenary systems have been powering trams and trolleys for a century plus. To convert electricity into motion the overhead wires will deliver juice via a jointed metallic frame known as a panto-graph. The panto-graph is affixed to the roof of the cab.
Siemens began putting their idea to the test four years ago in Germany. Last year the company established an “e Highway in Sweden. The Swedes have resolved to wean themselves off of fossil fuels by 2030.
In 1976 California established an anti-air pollution known as California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). Charged with smog reduction efforts in the South Coast Air Basin SCAQMD has shown interest in Siemens’ idea.
The South Coast Air Basin encompasses four counties and about 10,750 square miles. A one mile stretch of highway running through Carson California will serve as a test eHighway. The distance of this test eHighway begs the question, “What happens when the truck reaches the end of its 5,280′ tether?” You may also wonder,”What happens when the rig enters an area with no catenary system?”
The semis used are not specially built. They can still run on diesel. The transition from overhead electric to internal combustion will be automatic and seamless. Earlier I said that the panto-graph is jointed. That is because the panto-graph can detect the presence or absence of a catenary system and connect or disconnect itself.