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Pitch

A universal wireless charger for off-the-shelf e-bikes, cargo e-trikes and similar vehicles, enabling ubiquitous use in urban areas.


Description

Summary

Proposal

Develop a universal automated wireless charger for e-bikes that can be installed wherever e-bikes and similar vehicles can be used. The wireless charger is designed for both rental and private e-bikes. Work with e-bike manufacturers, cities, corporates and other institutions in propagating the solution and setting up the charging system.

Problem

Each e-bike has its own charging device that needs to be plugged-in indoors. Cable chargers may be used only indoors, where it is secure and has some form of supervision, to avoid vandalism, injury (tripping over cables) or theft. Efforts to increase use of cycles with rental systems increases costs, which is exacerbated with theft and vandalism. Furthermore, e-bike rental systems are set up for their own special e-bikes and private e-bike users cannot access the charging facility.

Wireless chargers for electric vehicles such as cars and scooters, do not require to replicate the charging logic for a multitude of charging parameters (voltage and current). The charging logic is on-board the vehicle, and the charging interface is therefore only rated for a maximum power at a fixed voltage and max. current level, like household plug points. The wireless chargers for e-bikes that have been showcased are designed for a specific brand and type of e-bike, with a design-specific form factor, such as modified bike stands or wheel rims, with a pre-defined voltage and current level.

The uniqueness of the designed (and successfully tested) prototype solution is to replicate the charging logic and vary the charging parameters (voltage and current) dynamically for a variety of similar vehicles, using the same charger. As e-bikes and other electric vehicles in this category come in different shapes and sizes, such as two or three-wheelers, the wireless charger is designed to be retro-fitted at any suitable point on the vehicle. This device may also be used with electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters.


Is this proposal for a practice or a project?

Project


What actions do you propose?

  • Continue and complete the development of the wireless charger
  • Liaise with research organisations in resolving technological constraints unique to this charging environment
  • Liaise with agencies involved in standardisation, to arrive at a common standard.
  • Work with e-bike manufacturers in providing for a suitable hardware interface for the wireless charger
  • Coordinate with civic groups, e-bike rental companies and logistic/ courier companies in facilitating the implementation of the solution
  • Coordinate with cities and urban authorities, in an analysis of the implementation scenarios
  • Coordinate with international funding agencies in the implementation of this solution, within the larger context of sustainable mobility solutions.


Who will take these actions?

Sciyent will lead the development. Manufacturers will be co-developers in providing for suitable hard- and software interfaces. Civic groups promoting forms of sustainable transport will be lead drivers in promoting the use of e-bikes and encouraging present day automotive users in making the shift to e-bike use. Companies focused on environmental impact mitigation will be co-opted, to install charging infrastructure. E-bike dealers will be trained in retrofitting the wireless charging device. Logistic and courier companies, some of whom already use cargo e-bikes/ e-trikes will be encouraged to provide public wireless chargers. Public transport agencies will provide these chargers to encourage e-bike use and serve as a cheaper alternative to mass transport, when commuter needs are limited and/ or are time-dependent. Furthermore, e-bike use can be encouraged as a link in an inter-modal mobility matrix.


Where will these actions be taken?

Implementation is to take place primarily in cities and in rural tourist areas, with high car/ caravan traffic. This will be done in pilot projects with focus groups to test the system and adapt it, as per user feedback. Exploratory discussions have taken place with Inverness (UK), Cork (IE), Montreal (CA), London and Cambridge (UK). Presentations have also been made with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), amongst others.


In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.

United States


Country 2

Canada


Country 3

Germany


Country 4

Switzerland


Country 5

India


Impact/Benefits


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Energy consumption (avg.): per 100km: e-bike 0.2 kW, e-scooter 4 kW and e-car 40 kW

Electricity production CO2 Emissions (avg.): US: 0.61kg of CO2-eq/ kWh; Swiss: 0.007kg of CO2-eq/ kWh

Global warming potential (consolidated material, road and usage impact) GWP kg CO2-eq/ km (approx. values) based on Swiss average

E-car: 0.1 kg CO2/ km

E-scooter: 0.04 kg CO2/ km

E-bike: 0.02 kg CO2/ km

The e-bike GWP CO2 emission reduction per 100 km compared to an e-car = 8 kg and to an e-scooter = 2 kg. Average yearly distance with e-car estimated at 150’000 km. GHG savings with an e-bike = 12’000 kg

GHG Worldwide Reduction Scenarios

EVs replaced with e-bikes at 5%, 10% and 20%

In 2020 (EVs 3'000'000) at 1.8, 3.6 and 7.2 Mt CO2 resp.

In 2030 (EVs 20'000'000) at 12, 24, and 48 Mt CO2 resp.

In 2040 (EVs 40'000'000) at 24, 48 and 96 Mt CO2 resp.

https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sroc/Tables/t0305.pdf

Life Cycle Assessment of conventional and electric cycles

The Environmental Cost of Electric Bikes vs. Cars and Motorcycles


What are other key benefits?

On the one hand the increased use of electric vehicles will have a positive impact on the environment, provided the electricity is sourced from clean energy sources. The use of slower modes of transport will make cities liveable and social with a positive impact on the mental and social health of its citizens.

On the other hand, governments will be hard-pressed to find alternative modes of taxation, with increased use of e-bikes. This will call for innovative taxation modes. Simultaneously the demands on road and parking space will reduce drastically and the pressure for public transport will be proportionally eased.

Muscle powered bikes vs pedal-assist (pedelec) e-bikes

The growth of bike rental programmes around the world is a healthy sign of the attractiveness and potential in sustainable transport solutions. The implementation of the wireless charger is envisaged as an extension in a sustainable mobility matrix. The worldwide growth in pedelec sales to total bike sales (For e.g. UK 5% in 2015 to 12% in 2016; Holland 28% in 2015 to 29% 2016) reflects growing customer needs and aspirations. The wireless charger has been designed to be integrated in present-day bike rental systems with docking stations. In the case of dock-less rental systems, the charger can be integrated at any suitable point, where power is available. In the case of e-bike rental programmes, this wireless charger makes the charger accessible for both rental and privately-owned e-bikes. At present, e-bike rental systems have special e-bikes and no possibility to offer a charging facility for non-rental e-bikes, which reduces flexibility, returns and attractiveness. The integration of the wireless charger to the rental system requires minimal adaptation.

Rental e-bike programmes are expensive, and their investment and operating costs can be recovered only with high rental rates, which make them unattractive to users. This calls for newer business models that can tap into the preponderance of peer-to-peer sharing opportunities, where e-bikes offer an alternative sustainable transport mode. For example, housing estates or (peer) groups can take recourse to shared e-bikes, where the automated wireless charger is integrated.

Often, pure muscle powered bikes are touted as zero emission, in comparison to e-bikes. This is an erroneous conclusion neglecting the nutritional intake required to power the muscles. An electric motor has an efficiency upwards of 80%. In comparison, the human body converts around 25% of nutritional energy to muscle power.


Costs/Challenges


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

It is estimated that around $300'000 will be required to complete the development and have the device certified and an additional $200'000 for the initial pilot projects.

On the technological side there are multiple issues such as the lack of a suitable standard, the technological hurdle of the lack of a charging logic on board the e-bike, making the development of a wireless charger difficult. Furthermore, the unique e-bike set up with its exposed structure, makes it a challenge to shield users from the ensuing magnetic field. The nature of the e-bike with its light frame and loose mounting (bike stand) results in large variations in the relative positioning of the coils.

The price point of the universal wireless charger will be a critical factor in the acceptance of the solution. Miniaturization and the use of embedded systems with newer materials may offer a suitable resolution.

Business Model

The wireless charger has two parts: The sender, which is a stationary device that is to be installed where power is available such as at a bike stand/ garage, and the receiver, which is affixed on the e-bike. The receiver is designed to be an accessory that can be included as an add-on at the e-bike manufacturing stage or as a retro-fit device that can be purchased and installed by a duly licensed e-bike dealer. The sender can be sourced either from the e-bike manufacturer, the e-bike dealer or, in the case of corporate/ large clients, from the manufacturer (or distributor). In the latter case, the business model is focussed on working together with electricity utility companies and manufacturers of bigger charging systems for e-cars, to offer the e-bike charger, at a car charging point, for an intermodal e-car to e-bike link.

Electricity payment scenarios, in public space, could be service contracts between the e-bike user and operator of the e-bike charging facility, such as the employer, the public transport or rental company offering a ride-and-charge service (intermodal e-bike to e-car/train/e-bus) or at a shop or cafe offering a product or service with the added benefit of a free charging facility like free WLAN. E-Bikes require very little power, and a full charge will amount to a few US cents. With growing e-bike use, the costs will be an important price-point to be factored-in. As the potential for carbon offsets grow in service/ production processes, the e-bike use can also be factored in the carbon offset pricing mechanism.


Timeline

Product development: 1 year

Implementation: 2-15 years

The proposal will have an immediate impact on emissions related to transportation


About the author(s)

A Mechanical Engineer and entrepreneur, who is resident in Switzerland.


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References