Long-haul truck transport represents major challenges for battery and charging systems. High-capacity charging offers a solution by creating a system that enables battery-driven trucks to charge at rest stops during the forty-five-minute breaks drivers are required to take by law. Total budget for the “High-capacity charging in long-haul truck transport”project, orHoLa for short, amounts to 27 million euros.
The goal is to achieve low-emission long-haul transport without any restrictions on operating ranges. German climate protection law requires reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the transport sector of 48 percent compared with 1990 by 2030. HoLa is one of three innovation cluster projects for climate-friendly truck drive technologies funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as a contribution to achieving these emission goals. HoLa will develop and operate high-capacity charging points at four locations along the A2 highway linking the Ruhr region and Berlin. The internationally standardized Combined Charging System (CCS) with a charging capacity of 450 kilowatts will be used during an initial phase. New types of high-capacity charging points using the Megawatt Charging System (MCS) with a charging capacity of almost 1000 kilowatts will then be developed in a second phase.
The construction and operation of the infrastructure as well as the vehicles themselves will be accompanied by an extensive research program. “The Chair of Methods for Product Development and Mechatronics at TU Berlin is chiefly responsible for evaluating and optimizing the operational concept,” says head of chair Professor Dr.-Ing. Dietmar Göhlich. “Our partners determine charging profiles for the vehicles and create load profiles for the charging stations. This shows, among other things, how costly the maintenance of the vehicles and the infrastructure will be. Our role is to analyze this comprehensive data and derive optimization measures.”
The Chair of Methods for Product Development and Mechatronics has been working on high-capacity charging of electric vehicles since 2012. Initially, the focus was on electrically powered buses and the research team at TU Berlin has been collecting and analyzing data from actual operations since the introduction of Berlin’s first electric bus line (204) in 2015. They are now applying this expertise to electric trucks.
“The heterogeneous environment presents a particular challenge,” says Göhlich. “Measurements have to be taken for vehicles from four different truck manufacturers along the entire A2 highway between the Ruhr region and Berlin. Measurements will also have to be taken at the charging stations along the A2 as well as at our logistics partners’ locations. As the data hub for all project partners, our researchers have to conduct uniform evaluations and analyses of all these heterogeneous data from different sources.”
Using measurements of power consumption directly in the vehicles as well as the charging capacity of the stations, the researchers will be able to improve existing simulation models and develop proposals for optimizing operations. They have already successfully carried out this type of operational optimization for the e-buses and depots of the BVG – Berlin’s public transport company.
In theory, it should be possible to fully charge electric trucks for the next stage of their route during the breaks drivers are required to take by law. Theoretically at least, this gives vehicles an almost infinite range. “We are interested to see how far we can achieve this in practice over a longer period of time,” says Göhlich. If the project proves successful, much future heavy freight transport could be switched to low-emission electric trucks using high-capacity charging stations.
The participating companies are contributing 15 million euros to the project. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) will be providing 12 million euros funding between September 2021 and the end of 2024, with 370,000 euros earmarked for TU Berlin. Thirteen consortium and eight associate partners from industry and research are participating in the project, including truck manufactures Daimler, MAN, Volvo and Scania, who will be providing 12 vehicles.