eWayBW: Baden-Wuerttemberg is testing catenary trucks

Despite improved emission control, trucks still account for around 29% of total emissions in the transport sector. Hybrid catenary trucks could help to significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Following the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse, Baden-Wuerttemberg is now planning a practical test under real conditions.

logistik aktuell introduces you to the technology and explains what is special about eWayBW, the field test near Rastatt.

Catenary trucks: This is how the technology works

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The principle is simple: similar to trains or trams, the hybrid electric trucks are to be powered with electricity by a pantograph on the roof. The prerequisite for this is, of course, a catenary system, which supplies the necessary energy. Sensors that are installed on the roof of the truck can detect whether there is an overhead line above the vehicle. If this is the case, the pantographs rise automatically and establish contact between the electric motor and the overhead line.

When the pantographs get disconnected – for example, when passing other vehicles or when the overhead line ends, the hybrid engine kicks in. The change of drives takes place automatically, without the necessity of lowering the speed. As a result, catenary trucks do not require a nationwide network, but each additional section actually contributes to climate protection.

Particularly sustainable are the catenary trucks with battery drive. Because the external power supply can charge the built-in batteries during the contact. When the pantographs are disconnected, a battery mode with maximum range is available.

(Video German only)

Test of catenary trucks in BW: 750,000 km in three years

With FESH in Schleswig-Holstein and ELISA in Hesse, comparable eHighway routes will enter the hot testing phase by the end of 2018. Nevertheless, the Baden-Württemberg test near Rastatt is absolutely justified. The reason: All three field tests have their own characteristics regarding traffic and route. Taken together, the results should ultimately lead to an overall picture that allows for comprehensive conclusions regarding the technology of catenary trucks.

For the eWayBW test, which is scheduled to start in late 2019, a total of 18.3 km of the B462 between Gernsbach-Obertsrot and Kuppenheim has been selected. The overhead lines are installed in both directions of a motorway-like section and in a very narrow area in one direction. The route leads through several towns as well as a tunnel. These basic conditions are also intended to investigate the positive impact of catenary trucks on noise and air pollution.

“#eWayBW: State #BW is planning a three-year field test with catenary # trucks at #Rastatt covering a total of 750,000 km. “

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But the decision in favor of this particular test track had a different reason: in Obertsrot, a distric of Gernsbach, there are three paper manufacturers. Their products, 500,000 tons of paper and cardboard a year, are transported by lorry to the logistics center in Kuppenheim every day. The trucks, thus, cover around 250,000 km a year in the area of the planned overhead lines. The planned total duration of three years should therefore add up to 750,000 test kilometers – a distance from which the planners hope to gain exact results.

Political impact being another project objective

But the eWayBW project is not just about technical insights. Moreover, the project managers hope for a big impact on the general public. The field test is intended to serve as a showcase for electro-mobility, showing people that this technology actually works and can contribute to climate protection.

For this to be the case, however, something else will also have to move forward. Because only if the power mix of tomorrow comes to a greater extent from renewable sources can catenary trucks contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions.