As Tesla and its Supercharger network have demonstrated, it’s a lot easier for people to make the switch to electric vehicles if there’s a robust and rapid charging infrastructure in place. But we have to electrify more than just passenger vehicles if we want to get serious about reducing emissions. EV manufacturer Proterra certainly thinks so, which is why it just opened up the patents for a new fast-charging system it has developed for electric buses.
Not all heavy-duty vehicle applications lend themselves to electric powertrains—think long distance freight trucking, for example. However, buses, garbage trucks, and other vehicles that make frequent stops on urban routes are ripe for battery power, provided they can recharge and get back to work with minimal downtime. Which is where Proterra’s charging system comes in.
Proterra’s high-voltage overhead charging system uses robotic control (and some autonomous software on the bus) to replenish bus batteries in as little as 10 minutes, depending on the size of the battery pack. Charging at 250-1000V (DC) and up to 1400A, the system is eight times faster than the CHAdeMO fast-charging standard and between three and four times faster than Tesla’s Superchargers. And unlike the old-fashioned pantograph, which needs to cover the vehicle’s entire route, Proterra’s system is static. This means bus operators can install them in terminals or at the same locations they use to refill their diesel tanks.
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