USU breaks ground for electric vehicle research facility

NORTH LOGAN – Utah State University broke ground at the Innovation Campus Tuesday for a new electric vehicle and roadway facility that will look into the possibility of <a href=”” target=”_blank”>charging electric vehicles while on the go</a>. Once complete, USU researchers are hoping to be able to have a car continuously driving and charging itself on the 0.25 mile track without stopping to refuel. They believe it will be the only facility of its kind in the nation with these capabilities.

“We will sit center stage and be witness to innovation in the making,” USU Vice President for Advancement and Commercialization Robert Behunin said.

USU already developed <a href=”” target=”_blank”>a bus that charges wirelessly</a>, but in order to work, it must be on a charging station. The difference this facility will bring is allowing that wireless charging to happen while in-motion, which would greatly increase the distance vehicles could travel without worrying about draining its charge.

Utah Science Technology and Research Professor Regan Zane said that the facility will allow them to look at all the technologies involved, including the car battery, the charging systems, the energy storage systems, electric drives and the road itself.

“It is going to allow us to take these technologies and bring them together and demonstrate them in a real-world example,” Zane said. “In an example that industry will take note of and help us develop systems and have a real impact.”

If the research is successful, Zane said passengers of vehicles will be able to take no thought to charging or refueling.

“You simply go,” he said. “This is the vision that we see.”

On the road technology side of research, the facility will help USU scientists look into how to construct the roads that will wirelessly charge the in-motion vehicles, including construction techniques, materials and operation.

“We anticipate this ultimately touching – we predict and we hope – every department within the College of Engineering,” Zane said.

Zane said that before too long incremental changes will start coming to vehicles that were developed at the facility and will eventually all come together.

“Can you imagine transportation industry where we have half the costs of the transportation you have today?” Zane asked. “Can we imagine transportation where we have half of the air pollution generated by transportation of what we have today? Can we imagine low-cost, reliable vehicles, personal and community shared vehicles that allow this to happen?”

According to a USU press release, if the technology was adopted at a U.S. market penetration rate of 20 percent by 2035, it could end up with annual cost savings of $180 billion.

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