Roads that can charge electric cars or buses while you drive aren’t a new concept, but so far the technology has been relatively expensive and inefficient. However, Indiana’s Department of Transport (INDOT) has announced that it’s testing a new type of cement with embedded magnetized particles that could one day provide efficient, high-speed charging at “standard roadbuilding costs,” Autoblog has reported.
With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), INDOT has teamed with Purdue University and German company Magment on the project. They’ll carry out the research in three phases, first testing if the magnetized cement (called “magment,” naturally) will work in the lab, then trying it out on a quarter-mile section of road.
In a brochure, Magment said its product delivers “record-breaking wireless transmission efficiency [at] up to 95 percent,” adding that it can be built at “standard road-building installation costs” and that it’s “robust and vandalism-proof.” The company also notes that slabs with the embedded ferrite particles could be built locally, presumably under license.
The final phase sounds ambitious, with INDOT saying it would “test the innovative concrete’s capacity to charge heavy trucks operation at high power (200 kilowatts and above).” If the final quarter-mile test track is a success, INDOT will use the tech to electrify an undermined segment of public interstate in Indiana.
Powering heavy trucks directly from the road without any pollution at an affordable price would be an environmental breakthrough, but there’s still a lot of work to do to prove it works. Plenty of other similar efforts are underway, as the UK has committed around $780 million for under-road charging research, for example. Sweden has also tested slot-car-like technology that would contain an electrified “rail” embedded into roads. This latest effort sounds far less complicated, provided it lives up to Magment’s claims,