International news agencies such as the Associated Press and Reuters have recently reported on the "online" electric vehicle project KAIST is proceeding with. A number of newspapers abroad including the New York Times and the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong published the articles. Following are excerpts from those reports.
S. Koreans designing "online" electric vehicles
By JEAN H. LEE
Urban visionaries in London and Seoul, two of the world"s busiest capital cities, foresee buses gliding through their streets with speed, ease and efficiency _ without emitting the exhaust fumes that scientists say are contributing to global warming.
Under Mayor Boris Johnson"s vision, London"s iconic red double-decker Routemaster buses would be back on the streets _ but powered by electricity, not gasoline.
Engineers at South Korea"s top-ranked KAIST university are meanwhile working on a novel prototype for an electric vehicle system: one that provides power on the go through induction strips laid into the roadway.
Cities _ which house 75 percent of the world"s population and generate 80 percent of its pollution _ must take leadership in tackling the problem of polluting emissions, Johnson said Monday in Seoul on the eve of the third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit.
"I think as a collective of cities, what we should be doing here in Seoul is agreeing that we are going to stop the endless addiction of mankind to the internal combustion engine," he told reporters. "It"s time that we moved away from fossil fuels. It"s time that we went for low-carbon vehicles."
"Cars form many problems that we see in Korea as well as other countries. We use hydrocarbon organic fuels, mostly petroleum, and that, in turn, creates environmental problems _ and Seoul is notorious," said Suh Nam-pyo, president of KAIST in Daejeon, south of the South Korean capital.
Seoul, population 10 million, is getting warmer three times faster than the world average, the National Meteorological Administration said Monday.
The obvious solution, Suh said, is to "replace all these vehicles with vehicles that do not pollute the air and do not use oil."
Back in March, Johnson zipped down a British highway in a U.S.-made electric car that he wrote marked "the beginning of a long-overdue revolution."
He rhapsodized in a Telegraph newspaper editorial that the Tesla has no exhaust pipe, carburetor or fuel tank, and "while every other car on that motorway was a-parping and a-puttering, filling the air with fumes and particulates, this car was producing no more noxious vapours than a dandelion in an alpine meadow."
Last month, he launched an ambitious plan to get 100,000 electric cars onto the streets of London by 2015. He pushed for the creation of 25,000 charging stations and vowed to convert some 1,000 city vehicles to make London the "electric car capital of Europe."
"The age of the diesel-emitting bus has got to be over in London," Johnson said.
And scientists are still grappling with the massive, sensitive, costly and fast-depleting batteries that take the place of international combustion engines and gasoline. Electric cars run between 40 and 120 miles (60 to 200 kilometers) on one charge, and it takes anywhere from two to seven hours to fully recharge, said Christian Mueller of the IHS Global Insight consulting firm.
"Everybody is frantically working on coming up with a viable electric car," he said from Frankfurt, Germany.
Batteries "aren"t yet at a state where we can say they are cheap, they"re reliable and they"re easy to come by. They all still have their technical drawbacks," said Mueller, who specializes in electrics and electronics.
Suh, an MIT-trained inventor with some 60 international patents to his name, approached the challenge from another angle.
"Why not have power transmitted on the ground and pick it up without using mechanical contact?" he said in an interview in his office overlooking the staging grounds for the university"s electric cars.
KAIST"s "online" vehicles pick up power from trips, or inverters, embedded into the road rather than transmitted through rails or overhead wires. A small battery, one-fifth the size of the bulky batteries typically used, would give the vehicle enough power for another 50 miles (80 kilometers), said Cho Dong-ho, the scientist in charge of the project.
South Korea produces its own nuclear power, meaning it can produce a continuous supply of energy to fuel such a plan.
President Lee Myung-bak, whose government gave KAIST $50 million for two major projects, including the "online" electric vehicle, took a spin in February.
Online buses are running at the KAIST campus and will begin test runs soon on the resort island of Jeju.
But Seoul, which has promised to set aside $2 million for the underground charging system, is within Suh"s sights. He said 9,000 gasoline-fueled buses now crisscross the capital, with 1,000 going out of commission each year. He envisions replacing those aging buses with electric models. Initial test runs are expected to take place this year.
Mueller, the consultant, called it a creative approach with potential.
"It sounds very intriguing; you don"t store your energy, you provide it on the go." he said. "The (battery) storage problem is overcome instantly. That would be a very intriguing way of doing it."
South Korea tries recharging road to power vehicles
By Jon Herskovitz
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea"s top technology university has developed a plan to power electric cars through recharging strips embedded in roadways that use a technology to transfer energy found in some electric toothbrushes.
The plan, still in the experimental stage, calls for placing power strips about 20 cm (8 inches) to 90 cm (35 inches) wide and perhaps several hundred meters long built into the top of roads.
Vehicles with sensor-driven magnetic devices on their underside can suck up energy as they travel over the strips without coming into direct contact.
"If we place these strips on about 10 percent of roadways in a city, we could power electric vehicles," said Cho Dong-ho, the manager of the "online electric vehicle" plan at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
The university has built a prototype at its campus in Daejeon, about 140 km (90 miles) south of Seoul, for electric-powered golf carts and is working on designs that would power cars and buses.
The system that can charge several vehicles at once would allow electric cars and buses to cut down on their battery sizes or extend their ranges.
The non-contact transfer of electricity, also called inductive charging, works by magnets and cables on the underside of the vehicle making a connection with the current in the recharging strip to receive power as they travel over it.
It is employed in some brands of electric toothbrushes that are sealed and water resistant, which do not need to be plugged into anything but use a magnetic connection to receive energy while resting in a cradle.
The recharging strips, which are attached to small electrical stations, would be laid in places such as bus lanes and the roads running up to intersections so that vehicles could power up where traffic slows down, Cho said.
The system will be tested later this year for use in the bus systems of Seoul and other South Korea cities while some of the country"s automakers are also cooperating in the project.
Unlike electric lines used for trams, vehicles do not need to be in constant contact with the strips and a person can touch the lines without receiving a shock.
The system so far has proven safe to humans and machinery, Cho said.
The cost of installing the system is an estimated 400 million won ($318,000) per kilometer of road. Electricity is extra.
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