South Korea transport goes green on recharging road

Tue Mar 9, 2010 8:42am EST
 
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By Jon Herskovitz

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea is trying a new way to turn public transport green by using a technology popular in electric toothbrushes and razors to power buses and cars.

The country's top technology university on Tuesday unveiled a new electric transport powered by recharging strips embedded in roads that transfer energy through magnetic connections. There are no direct connections with wires.

Vehicles with sensor-driven magnetic devices on their underside suck up energy as they travel over the strips embedded a few centimeters (inches) under the road.

"The technological concept behind the idea has been around for about 100 years. We have found a better way to transfer the electricity to make it practical," said B.K. Park, a project member at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

The university about 140 km (90 miles) south of Seoul has four prototype buses using the technology on its campus and is in talks with Seoul and other cities to have buses running in the next three years using the system called "online electrical vehicle."

The strips, which are attached to small electrical stations, are laid in bus lanes and roads running up to intersections so that vehicles can power up where traffic slows down.

The strips are in segments of several tens of meters (yards) in length and vehicles receive what is termed "microcharges" each time they pass over one.

"These vehicles are not like mobile phones that need to be charged for hours. Microcharges are quite efficient," Park said.   Continued...

 
<p>A new electric transport powered by recharging strips embedded in roads that transfer energy through magnetic connections runs during a photo call at the Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, March 9, 2010. REUTERS/Jun Su-young/Yonhap</p>