Howard County, Maryland Get Wirelessly Rechargeable Electric Buses

AUG 6 2017 BY MARK KANE 27

Howard County, Maryland is one of the rare cities in the U.S. where passengers ride in not only electric buses, but wirelessly charged electric buses.

All-electric bus on wireless charging location at The Mall in Columbia (Maryland)

A new 50 kW charging system has been installed by Momentum Dynamics at The Mall in Columbia for three 35-foot (32-seat) electric buses purchased from BYD.

For now this is just a pilot project, as Momentum Dynamics is apparently ready for a bigger scale wireless systems to be installed – up to 200 kW systems.

“This groundbreaking project is the result of a cooperative effort between Howard County, MD, Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA), Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), BYD North America, Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), and GGP (NYSE:GGP).

The project team has recently completed the installation of a state-of-the art inductive charging system at The Mall in Columbia, one of America’s largest and most successful planned communities. Three new electric buses will be wirelessly charged when they make routine stops at the Mall. The Mall is a portfolio property of GGP, an S&P 500 company that owns, manages, leases and redevelops high-quality retail properties throughout the United States.

The Momentum® charger operates at efficiencies that exceed many conductive chargers, and does not require a chilling system, nor the regular expensive maintenance of an overhead charging system. Perhaps most importantly, the system is less expensive to install and operate.

The Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) provided funding through the Maryland Transportation Administration (MTA) to Howard County. The funding supported the purchase of three 35-foot (32-seat) electric buses from BYD Coach and Bus, as well as the inductive charging equipment from Momentum Dynamics. BYD Coach and Bus is a leading manufacturer of electric buses based in Lancaster, CA. Momentum is a leading technology provider of wireless charging technology for electric vehicles, and is based in Pennsylvania.”

50 kW wireless charging station at The Mall in Columbia (source: Plug In Sites – EV Charging Stations)

Momentum Dynamics – wireless charging

“Momentum Dynamics has developed a 200-kilowatt (kW) wireless charging system for the municipal transit market. The Howard County 50 kW system includes a transmitter installed in the pavement and a receiver installed on the underside of the bus. Momentum’s unique technology automatically charges the bus’ batteries while the bus is parked over the transmitter.”

“CTE, as project manager and technical consultant to Howard County, manages the day-to-day activity of the project team, and has provided third-party technical analysis, modeling, and simulation, throughout the life of the project. CTE is a member-based, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of clean, sustainable, innovative transportation, and energy technologies. As a non-governmental organization, it works to support its members in association with partnerships with federal agencies, including the FTA and DOE, as well as transit agencies throughout the U.S.

Upon deployment, CTE will collect operations and maintenance data over a two-year reporting period. The data will be used to generate a series of key performance indicators (KPIs), which will provide Howard County, FTA, and the industry with information regarding the overall impact of the wirelessly charged electric buses.”


According to Momentum’s CEO Andy Daga:

“We are extremely excited about this project and look forward to working with Howard County and RTA for many years to come. This project will demonstrate the benefit of fast automatic charging along bus routes. We’ve learned that many people think that wireless charging is years away, and inherently inefficient. In fact, wireless charging is available today, and it can be more efficient than comparable conductive chargers.”

Categories: Bus, BYD, Charging

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27 Comments on "Howard County, Maryland Get Wirelessly Rechargeable Electric Buses"

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Just imagine the downtown core of any major city without the stench and roar of diesel buses. Bring em on!


I live one county over, this is great news

I’ve seen this bus! Interesting … its makes more noise than I thought it would.

The sound. Thats funny as I grew up on an electric trolley bus line and every neighbor kid I knew could mimic the buses, right down to the vertical windshield wipers and air brake compressors. We also had the best bus stop on the planet. Denny-Blaine in Seattle has a 1905 river rock and pole building with a 75ft circular turtle and lily pad pond. A lot of the fleet has kept the trolley lines, and the new coaches have big enough batteries to get around pretty good without wires.

Right in my backyard!

Nice, will plan to ride it.

Wireless…most excellent. I figured even if they have to use 8 six kWh units it would work.

How about some DCFC love for EV owners @ the mall? I have to use the L2 across the street at the Whole Foods (Thanks Whole Foods!).
Or even put in a half dozen or so Chargepoint L2 or similar actually at the mall please!

What a waste. Unless they can beat practicality and efficiency of the automated wired connection, this approach literally wastes a lot of energy in the process.

I Read this: “The Momentum® charger operates at efficiencies that exceed many conductive chargers, and does not require a chilling system, nor the regular expensive maintenance of an overhead charging system. Perhaps most importantly, the system is less expensive to install and operate.” Did you miss that part?

That comparison to other conductive chargers is about one wireless vs another wireless charger. It doesn’t make any claims regarding the systemic inefficiency of wireless. Wireless has lots of loss.

On further review, I think I’m wrong.

wireless is dumb due to loss. are people to lazy to plug in a cable?

It still makes huge sense for buses, if you only have a few minutes to charge at each bus stop the last thing you want to do is waste half of it mucking around with a plug, the only other option is somewhat more complicated moving part affairs on the roof to connect to an overhead charger.

You need to run the cable from some point to the charger. If you run the same cable from that point to the conductive coupling you get the same efficiency in the cable. Now you have wireless coupling vs conductive. Unless they have some unexplained dark magic involved, you cannot have any imaginable wireless better than the direct coupling of the proper cross section. The only disadvantage being some moving parts.

Yeah, I’m not enthusiastic. You have to have infrastructure at many stops, so you can’t easily change the route. You also have wait time if the charger needs longer than the stop, which may not even happen without the need to charge.

In compensation, you get to use a smaller battery. I don’t think it’s enough.

It is a different solution from resonant wireless charging proposed for home use. Note the width of the wire bundle and the distance between the coils. It is a plain strongly coupled air transformer. It can handle large power because it doesn’t need a huge amount of energy stored in the LC tanks, the leakage is fairly minimal so it doesn’t affect and is not affected by the environment. The drawback is it needs a qualified driver to position the coils exactly on top of each other and some sort of a robotic arm to align the coils and bring them closer.

They should show the activation and bus display too

The only thing wrong with our venerable trolley buses is the amount of tree pruning that accompanies it.

This is Great news, Hats off to Howard County.

If only the powers that be here in the UK would buy these buses, We have a fantastic public transport system here but the diesel engined buses are still stinking the place out when better alternative vehicles are out there.

“The Momentum® charger operates at efficiencies that exceed many conductive chargers… Perhaps most importantly, the system is less expensive to install and operate.”

Well, what are they comparing this system to? If they’re comparing it to a pantograph electric bus system… then yeah, I can easily believe it’s less expensive, and quite possibly more energy efficient.

But compared to a BEV bus with wired charging at the end of the route?

I’d love to see the results of an independent test of the energy efficiency, as well as a comparison of costs. My belief is that wireless charging is inherently less efficient than BEV + wired charging, as well as more expensive, but I’m willing to be convinced I’m wrong.

Momentum is always vague on the “comparable conductive systesms”.

They claim 91%. Conductive connectors can be very close to 100%, but cables have losses (Superchargers cables are liquid cooled to shed heat from resistance losses).

Momentum seems to include EVSE AC-DC losses in their calculation. It’s not clear if they include AC-DC losses with their system.

I hope it expands to more cities quickly.

I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s a pilot project and unless the first results are truly amazing, this one risks to slow down adoption of electric buses.

They will gather KPI-s for next two years.

Does anyone know if there are any special buses running to the Howard Co Fair?

Look it up.