Constructing the First US Highway Segment Capable of Charging Electric Vehicles of All Sizes While on the Move



Picture this, sis: Indiana highways decked out with Purdue-designed, patent-pending tech that lets EVs charge up while cruising at highway speeds. They’re starting with the big guys—electric heavy-duty trucks, which are major greenhouse gas culprits because they’re always hauling our Amazon packages and groceries. It’s a smart move that marries reducing emissions with economic feasibility, but, like that crush who just won’t commit, we might be waiting 20-30 years until EVs can fully charge on the go—no shade to Purdue though, they’re showing us the future, one electrified highway at a time.

Wireless Charging for Electric Vehicles on Highways? It’s on the horizon!

Purdue University engineers and the Indiana Department of Transportation are working on a solution to allow electric vehicles to wirelessly charge while cruising on highways. As the first of its kind, this venture has set the stage for constructing a quarter-mile test bed on the U.S. Highway 231/U.S. Highway 52 in West Lafayette.

“We’re developing the world’s first highway test bed for wireless charging,” announced Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb at the United Nations environmental conference, COP27. This significant pilot program is expected to commence next year, aiming to electrify a section of an Indiana interstate within the next half-decade.

Other states are also testing roads that wirelessly charge EVs. However, the unique challenge lies in accommodating heavy-duty trucks on highways. The Purdue-designed system aims to accommodate both the high power needs of trucks and the lower power needs of other vehicles.

Why Target Trucks First?

An electrified Indiana highway would accommodate a significant share of the nation’s traffic. Eighty percent of the U.S can be reached within a day’s drive via the state’s highways. Focusing on heavy-duty trucks can maximize greenhouse gas reductions and make EV infrastructure more economically feasible.

As major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, heavy-duty trucks require more fuel due to their constant transport demands. Electrifying trucks could reduce costs for freight, potentially attracting more investment into electrified highways that all vehicles could use.

Highways That Power EVs Like Your Phone

The technology being developed by Purdue functions similarly to how newer smartphones wirelessly charge using magnetic fields. The wireless charging system designed by Purdue researchers uses transmitter coils embedded in dedicated lanes and receiver coils attached to the vehicles.

“The whole idea is if you can charge your car on the road while in motion, then you’re basically riding for free,” explained Aaron Brovont, a Purdue research assistant professor. This captures the allure of the future of EV charging.

The Future of EV Charging on Highways

The team’s work has been recognized by The New York Times, CNBC, and others as having the potential to redefine EV charging on highways.

The researchers foresee it may take 20 to 30 years before EVs can receive full power while driving at highway speeds. However, the team hopes their experiments will convince the industry that electrified highways are achievable.

The research is affiliated with the ASPIRE center, which aims to advance electrified transportation. ASPIRE’s partnerships span across the country, fostering real-world tests and developments in wireless EV charging.

“We don’t envision 100% of the roads being electrified,” shared Nadia Gkritza, a Purdue professor. “But we see the potential for dynamic wireless power pavement technology as complementary to an expanding network of EV charging stations.”

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