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Catenary Pantograph for Zero Emissions

June 18, 2013 in Electric Drive by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Siemens-TransPower Project Backed by a Bevy of Agencies

A key part of the funding equation fell into place last week as the California Energy Commission said it’s awarding $1.6 million to retrofit five heavy duty trucks to run on power from an overhead catenary wire using the Siemens pantograph system – part of a $13.5 million program.

Regular-route trucks will be able to run on catenary electricity, or without it.

Regular-route trucks will be able to run on catenary electricity, or without it.

If the concept proves out, trucks running along the I-710 corridor from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles (and eventually in other locations) will run on pure electric power. Some will be fitted with batteries to take them to destinations as far as 10 miles from the electrified roadway. Hybrids will be able to go farther.

The “Siemens catenary pantograph” concept is also known as Zetech, for Zero Emission Truck and Electric Catenary Highway. Fleets & Fuels publisher Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) last year issued a 26-page report on the technology for SCAQMD, Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (F&F, April 23, 2012).

CNG Plays a Role

Agencies including the U.S. EPA, California Energy Commission, SCAQMD and the two Ports had previously signed on before CEC agreed to help buy the equipment.

Industry participants besides Siemens include San Diego’s TransPower. TransPower is to install a CNG-fueled hybrid drive and integrate a catenary pantograph system on an existing battery electric class 8 truck.

The electric trucks would run along the I-710 corridor in Los Angeles.

The electric trucks would run along the I-710 corridor in Los Angeles.

Siemens, which has tested the concept in Germany, will continue to do so as it works to apply the Zetech technology in California.

“Siemens and Volvo propose to develop and integrate two Mack Granite Vision diesel hybrid electric class 8 trucks configured to operate on the catenary system,” states a SCAQMD project summary. “The first truck will be used for integration and testing of the pantograph and electrical hybrid drive and will be evaluated on Siemens catenary test track in Germany.”

A One-Mile Route to Start

Siemens is to build a one-mile catenary segment in Carson, Calif. in cooperation with Southern California Edison.

“The Siemens pantograph system will allow for seamless connection and detachment from the catenary power source,” SCAQMD says. “When entering the catenary system corridor, the pantograph system will verify the presence of catenary lines and allow the driver to raise the pantograph from within the cab of the truck.

“Upon leaving the catenary lane, the pantograph will automatically retract and the truck will switch to on-board power systems. The on-board power systems could be a range of technologies, including batteries, fuel cells, or internal combustion engines.”

Deployment of a catenary system for near-dock rail yards is feasible in the 2016-2020 timeframe, GNA said last year. Counting approximately 1,000 dockside drayage trucks, the firm sees a market for 46,000 heavy duty catenary-capable vehicles in the Los Angeles area alone through 2030 – and says “the potential application of this technology concept on a national and even global basis is significant.”

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Source: California Energy Commission and SCAQMD with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

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