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Arctic Whisper fast-charged extended range electric bus enters passenger service

Hybricon AB and Umeå Municipality have placed an Arctic Whisper fast rechargeable electric-drive bus in service running on Umeå’s busiest line. The first public installation of the Opbrid Bůsbaar charging station was inaugurated with a ribbon cutting by Umeå Municipality representatives. The Arctic Whisper is the first in a fleet of affordable, sustainable, low-carbon urban buses for Umeå City. (Earlier post.)

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Fast-charging at the Bůsbaar. Click to enlarge.

The Arctic Whisper’s batteries are fast-charged by the Opbrid Bůsbaar—an overhead, pantograph-based fast-charging station for buses—for 5-10 minutes at the end of its route to achieve nearly 100% all-electric operation but with the reliability of diesel. This will extend the all-electric range of the 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 development of Umeå’s super fast rechargeable electric buses began 13 December 2010 when the municipality of Umeå decided to invest in an early development stage project with Hybricon AB (Sweden), E-Traction NV (Holland) and Opbrid SL (Spain). This included the development of a charging station and two fast rechargeable electric hybrid buses. The first bus was delivered after 6 weeks for initial winter testing. The charging system went live in mid-summer, and now, 11 months after the project commenced, public operation has begun with line 1 from Umedalen to the center of town.

Hybricon achieved this rapid progress from concept to public service by mating the Opbrid Bůsbaar fast charging station to two existing e-Traction hybrid buses, and adding additional lithium batteries for fast charging.

Comments

Henry Gibson

This is a good example of how modern batteries can be used for full service electric buses with emergency generators for charging failures or route changes.

Bus bars built into the pavement would also work. Long ago metal studs with switching were built into the pavement. Modern electronics can eliminate the switching failures that were common with such systems. Small charges could be had at every stop.

The bus companies do nto want the buses to ever lack power so generators are carried with the bus. Liquid fuel powered generators should be a part of every electric vehicle including the Tesla even if never used. ..HG..

kelly

Charging "for 5-10 minutes at the end of its route to achieve nearly 100% all-electric operation" is impressive.

HarveyD

This is probably the first of many such buses to be put in operation in many cities in the near future.

Yes, wireless charging points/stations at every major regular bus stops could make recharging fully transparent and allow those PHEV buses to run on electricity most of the time.

Two very important side benefits are less air pollution and noise in our cities.

Opbrid

We went with conductive charging to provide for very fast charging (200-300kW) just at the end of the route. If you charge inductively at intermediate stops, the passengers have to wait. As a bus rider, I much prefer faster journey times!

The buses here in Granada, Spain only stop 5-10 seconds to let people off and on most of the time. This is not enough time to get any meaningful charge. Charging at the end of the route doesn't impact the journey time, since only the driver is in the vehicle.

Also, typically there is some wait time at the route ends to keep the buses on schedule. You might have noticed how buses tend to "bunch up" - the one in front gets slower and slower as it picks up more people, and the one in back goes faster because there are less people to pick up. The wait time at the ends evens this out. It is called "Layover time", and is typically 4-10 minutes depending on the route. This also give the driver some time to use the facilities and have a smoke (in Spain at least), before continuing on.

A PHEV bus also has the advantage of being able to continue even if it doesn't have time to charge, since it can revert to hybrid mode in a pinch. This can really come in handy at times! The range extender can be a fairly light and cheap automotive diesel engine since it isn't used much, just there for backup.

HarveyD

Op...I partly agree with you. It is a question of choice, you can have 10 to 20, 1-minute charges or one 10 to 20-minutes charge to load the energy (100 Kwh to 200 Kwh) required for a given route. Large city buses often stop for one minute or more at each major stop to load/unload many passengers. No energy would be loaded up at intermediate stops.

From a NET efficiency point of view, it would be preferable to load passengers and electrons at the same time, instead of passengers followed by electrons.

SJC

End of route makes sense, but Henry has a good point. Put them in the ground with switching and add a genset for extra backup.

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