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OLEV at Korean Amusement Park  (Source: PhysOrg)
Charge strips are placed under blue line the tram follows

Anyone who has ever traveled to a major amusement park knows the dread that is felt when facing a long hike to the gates from the parking lot. Amusement park goers can also appreciate the trams that typically run along the parking lot roadways which take visitors to and from the gates.

Most of these amusement park trams are powered by standard combustion engines or perhaps natural gas. A major amusement park in South Korea has debuted its new tram system that is electric and uses a "recharging road" to stay juiced. The tram is designed to look like a train engine and pulls three carriages to take passengers to and from the park gates. The tram system is called the Online Electric Vehicle or OLEV.

A blue line that runs up the road is positioned along the route the tram rides and has power strips under the surface of the road that are able to deliver power to the trams electrical system as it drives over the blue line. According to the researchers behind the prototype OLEV, if the amusement park trial proves to be successful, there are plans to try the recharging road system on a bus route in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

The total length of the prototype route at the park is 400 meters. Under the OLEV tram is a system that allows the pickup of electricity from the strip under the road surface and then distributes the power picked up to either the vehicle for propulsion or the battery for storage.
PhysOrg reports that if the system is trialed in Seoul, the power strip recharge stations will only be placed on 20% of the bus route at places where the bus sits for extended periods like bus stops, parking lots, and intersections.

The OLEV system was designed by the state-funded Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the research team has applied for over 120 patents relating to the system. 

KAIST president Suh Nam-Pyo said, "Of all the world's electric vehicles, this is the most economical system." Suh claims that the system developed at KAIST costs about a third as much as other electric vehicles to operate. Suh also said, "The potential for application (of this technology to public transport systems) is limitless. I dare say this is one of the most significant technical gains in the 21st century."

Among the breakthroughs that were made to make the system possible was a way to transmit power to the pickup device on the vehicle chassis using magnetic methods. The team claims that the system it developed can transmit power from the underground strips to the vehicle across gaps of up to 25cm. At the amusement park, the prototype system uses a gap of 11 centimeters to account for bumps in the road.

AFP reports that technology for the system was first developed in association with the University of California Berkeley, but the developed tech ultimately failed to produce tangible results. KAIST also plans to use the charge strip system to move attendees and delegates of the G20 summit from one place to another in November.

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RE: Tried to Do This Years Ago
By porkpie on 3/10/2010 4:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
"If you use resonant inductive coupling over distances less than 15 cm, you can get effeciences in the neighborhood of 90%"

You have to add line losses on top of that. Offhand, I can't imagine you can run a buried cable like this at more than 600-1000v, meaning your losses are going to much higher per mile than normal transmission lines.

"Retrofitting hybrid cars with power receiver would be trivial."

You'd also need a means to account for and charge the drivers of those vehicles...unless you want the government paying for them to drive.

"For a total infrastructure cost of about $400 billion, we could completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil."

We use oil for far more than road transportation. Power generation, diesel farm vehicles, jet fuel, etc, as well as everything from plastics to road tar to certain medicines and lubricants.

Your cost figure works out to about $100K/mile, to retrofit existing roads, install the cable and all the inductors needed. That might be plausible, but I'd like to see the assumptions that figure was based seems to be about a quarter of what I'd estimate the actual cost to be.

In any case, your maintenance figure is certainly far too low, even if your capital cost is correct. It works out to a 33+ year lifespan for all cabling and parts, with no other maintenance, failures, or incidental charges. It also ignores the cost of the electricity itself -- the largest factor in the equation.

Finally, you have the cost of the receivers on the cars themselves. Assuming your cost figure is correct, that's $250B in additional costs right there.

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