The world’s first fast rechargeable hybrid bus is now being tested in Umeå City, Sweden in a collaboration between the companies Hybricon AB, Opbrid SL, e-Traction BV, Umeå Energi AB and the Umeå City Corporation. The “Arctic Whisper’s” batteries will be fast charged by the Opbrid Bůsbaar (earlier post) for 5-10 minutes at the end of its route to achieve nearly 100% all-electric operation but with the reliability of diesel.
The Bůsbaar—an overhead, pantograph-based fast-charging station for buses—will be located at one end of the bus route that will fast charge the bus for a few minutes at the end of each trip. This will extend the all-electric range of the e-Traction (Apeldoorn, Holland) hybrid bus from 2 hours to 18 hours. And, since this is a serial hybrid bus with a backup diesel generator, the bus can continue running on bio-diesel in case of brown-outs, traffic jams, or very cold weather.
The city’s vision is to fill Umeå’s streets with a number of these fast-charged hybrid buses by 2014, the year that Umeå will be the “Cultural Capital of Europe”.
The e-Traction converted Volvo 7700 is a battery-dominant hybrid bus; it has the ability to run on battery only, with the diesel generator turned completely off. The Arctic Whisper has 100 kWh of Valence Li-Ion batteries, typically enough for 1-3 hours of fully electric operation due to the high efficiency of the e-Traction wheel motors. With the simple addition of the Opbrid Bůsbaar fast charging station, the all-electric operation can be extended to 18 hours.
At the end of the route, the driver pulls up underneath the Opbrid Bůsbaar charging station, and the tram-like pantographs on the bus roof quickly raise up to contact the Bůsbaar. The charging process is completely automatic, with the driver never having to leave the bus. When the batteries are charged, the driver continues on as normal. The batteries are fully charged at night, with the Bůsbaar providing the additional electricity needed for a full day of electric driving.
e-Traction and Hybricon were able to convert one of their existing hybrid buses to a fast-charged hybrid in only 6 weeks. The changes that were needed were minimal: they added some additional batteries and the Opbrid pantographs, plus some electrical and software changes to accommodate fast charging. These changes converted a 100% diesel hybrid to a Fast Charged Hybrid running on nearly 100% electricity, but always with the ability to revert to diesel if necessary.
Testing of the first bus and charging station has begun and will continue through the Spring and Summer of 2011, with a second bus arriving soon.