Carnegie Mellon University
January 21, 2022

Michalek quoted in The New York Times

Engineering and Public Policy Professor Jeremy Michalek was recently quoted in The New York Times on charging solutions for electronic vehicles (EV).

One of the biggest challenges facing EVs is reliable charging, and some are pointing towards inroad charging as a solution. A few US state transportation departments have begun to develop plans for inroad charging, such as the plan by the Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University to develop the world’s first contactless wireless-charging concrete pavement highway segment. 

“One of the major barriers to electrification is the range anxiety. This technology is intended to solve the problem,” said Nadia Gkritza, a professor at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and ASPIRE campus director at Purdue University. “In simple terms, the vision is to bring the charge to the vehicles, rather than having the vehicle stop at charging stations to recharge.”

"To put this in context, inroad charging while driving is not likely to be a broad solution for all electric vehicles, but it could play an important role for some applications,” said Jeremy J. Michalek. “For passenger cars, most drivers will leave home on most days with a full tank of electricity, and EV range is growing large enough that most drivers won’t need public charging except on rare long-distance travel days,” he said.

But there is a bigger problem that these kinds of roadways can solve. “For long-haul trucking, inroad charging aims to address a real problem with electrifying trucks,” Michalek said. Electric trailer trucks require large battery packs that reduce payload; inroad charging could help, though that amount of long-distance travel would require a huge investment in infrastructure.

Inroad charging will also need to “withstand all of the weight and weather abuse that tears up our roads today. There may be particular applications where inroad charging infrastructure could be targeted to select locations, such as bus stops or fleets with fixed routes and known stops,” he said.

“The technical obstacles that we need to overcome are not insurmountable,” says Dionysios Aliprantis, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. “Those can be overcome with proper design.”

To learn more about inroad charging, its challenges, and its future, go here.