Another Way of Charging
Normally, when you charge a device, there is a need to plug the device into the charger. My neighbor charged his electric car most nights, plugging into an outlet next to his garage. Each night, only if the next day requires an outing of 30-40 miles. There are so few charging stations (not to mention the time it takes to charge) that charging is a nightly matter. In fact, I charge my cell phone each night, plugging it into the charger. Everyone recognizes the annoying need to constantly keep their phones, watches, laptops and cars fully charged. We all plug in various devices each 24 hour period. In fact, it is so common that you may ask, “Is there another way?” Well, yes. There is.
In Sweden they are experimenting with electric dynamic charging roads. They are piloting a 1-mile stretch of road that is capable of charging electric trucks and buses as they run over the road using a Dynamic Wireless Electrification System. The system has been developed by the Israeli company, Electreon, and consists of a driving lane infrastructure, embedded with wireless vehicle charging capacity.
The mile-long pilot would lead to a 1200 mile (2000 km) arterial highway transformed into a heavy transport e-road. Or an electric dynamic charging road. This would serve long-haul truck transport, public transport and individual electric vehicles. Electric roads would leave no vehicle uncharged. Although, such a highway would obviously have a cost to use. But that cost might well be less than personal battery costs.
“In December 2018, BloombergNEF published the results of its ninth Battery Price Survey, a series that begin in 2012 looking back at data from as early as 2010. The annual price survey has become an important benchmark in the industry and the fall in prices has been nothing short of remarkable: the volume weighted average battery pack fell 85% from 2010-18, reaching an average of $176/kWh.”
So at the other end of the spectrum, there is a concerted effort to create less expensive batteries. And the drop from $1160/kWh in 2010 to a 2018 average of $176/kWh is a ten times reduction. Other materials besides Lithium-ion batteries, the subject of the study, are also being researched. Not least of which is the atomic generated source. Even if there is an electric dynamic charging road, there must still be a battery in the vehicle to charge. So this end of the matter is also important.
5+ years ago the concern about battery life was more in the realm of extending. “You have a limited battery source, now learn to live with it.” Consumers were offered tips to extend storage. Now, however, there is a bright horizon of unlimited power. Which is very appealing. In fact, for some it falls into the category of “too good to be true.” So many promises are made, that we all tend to be a bit skeptical of a plan to charge buses as they drive down the road to the next bus stop.I admit to having “Bells of Skepticism” ringing in my head.
Well, come on! It’s just a pilot program. Not fully functional. Who knows if the $12B project will produce a real viable solution? Sure it would be nice to have a low cost ride from the airport to downtown even here in LA, let alone Sweden. But will it really work?
Nor does it help when a headline like, “‘Smart’ Pajamas Could Monitor And Help Improve Sleep,” pops up on my phone. Surely a smart phone would know better than to play that story to me? But there it is! Science Daily, April 1, 2019. [Yes, I noted the date. But it wasn’t a “Fool’s Joke” for April 1] The scientists working on this self-powering technological wonder predict to make it to the mainstream public consumption by 2021 for under $200. My skepticism steps back to note that, yes, I have “dreamed about getting a good night’s sleep,” and even if the “data was generated by my sleepwear” I would be pleased to be armed with data from “unobtrusive and continuous monitoring of heartbeat, breathing and sleep posture” because even in my deepest slumbers, I know that these factors “play a role in how well a person slumbers.” So bring it on! Sleep is a $29B industry!
Of Soldiers and Tourists
But even though this research comes from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and “kinda sorta” rings true, there is something about the smart pajama technology that seems to cross the line of dignity into idiocy. Surely, you are more broad-minded than I, and have no trouble discovering a modicum of sense and a boat-load of need in developing smart pajamas. OK. I get it. But you can see how such advances might tend to sway public sentiment, which is what we were exploring.
So from cost, to technology, to public sentiment, there are many barriers that must be cautiously crossed. Not so much as though a tourist navigating the Sahara in Summer. More like the soldier mincing steps through a mine field. Much is to be gained at the other side. Much is to be lost if something goes wrong. The soldier has a fighting chance. The tourist? Not so much. He has no business in such a venture to begin with.