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Examining the feasibility of battery exchange for long-distance electric trucks

Berlin Technical University Professor Stefanie Marker conducts research on EV energy optimization. In her latest project, she turns her attention to vehicles weighing up to 40 tons. The majority of these heavy goods vehicles must travel distances that cannot be covered by a single battery charge. Her solution: a network of battery exchange stations for heavy goods vehicles. They would just have to drive in, exchange the battery, and continue on their way. “What we are missing is a feasibility study,” said co-researcher Jens-Olav Jerratsch.

As part of the three-year project, which will run until the end of September 2023, the consortium is commissioning two electrified trucks for use by two logistics companies. A battery exchange station is being developed in south Berlin to be used by haulers as part of their regular delivery operations. The goal is to provide a fully automated battery exchange. Upon arrival at the station, the spent battery is removed from the vehicle by a specially developed robot and exchanged for a fully charged battery. This can be done in a matter of minutes.

“Both vehicles are fitted with a number of sensors to record data affecting energy consumption during regular operations: the energy consumption of the engine, the load, the weather, the altitude profile of the route, secondary energy consumption such as air conditioning in the driver’s cabin, as well as the energy required to maintain cargo hold temperatures,” said Marker.

“We will be examining how to mount and bond batteries to trucks to enable a fast and easy exchange,” said Jerratsch. In the long term, another challenge lies in standardizing exchangeable batteries so as to enable cost-effective, modular battery exchange on a larger scale. However, given the limited number of truck models, this may represent less of a problem than for passenger cars.

“Our work in the project also focuses on economic aspects as well as technical and energy consumption data: How to develop a system that makes it possible to provide a cost-effective and real alternative for the logistics branch,” added Marker.

Source: Berlin Technical University

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