Conference draws international crowds | ParkRecord.com

Conference draws international crowds

Gina Barker, The Park Record

The Utah State University-sponsored Conference on Electric Roads and Vehicles (CERV) held at the Newpark Hotel this week was the first of its kind, drawing in participants at the international level to discuss wireless electric-powered transportation. From federal-level government officials to companies based out of Germany, India and New Zealand the conference brought together industry, academia and government to discuss ,inductive power transfer and talk shop on where the technology was headed.

"We’ve all seen this move toward wireless technologies in other industries" said conference chairman Jeff Muhs. "We’re anticipating the same move in the automobile industry."

David Anderson from the Department of Energy’s vehicle technology program spoke to conference attendees on where the United States government was with this technology and what engineers and developers should focus on. Companies should be working on high powered batteries that are safe, standardized across the industry, that rely on static charging rather than wireless to start, he said.

"You have to crawl before you can walk," Anderson told the crowd. "In our view static wireless charging has to come before quasi-dynamic and dynamic wireless charging."

"There are many unknowns," he added, "the cost of the scale, infrastructure, the business structure."

The conference is in its first year, timed to debut with the Wave Inc. and USU Energy Dynamics Laboratory project that would allow battery-powered vehicles to continuously drive using a wireless signal emitted from a battery placed in the road.

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"Just think about lighting," Muhs said. "A century ago, we used to lug around all the oil in lamps. Right now, we’re lugging gas around in our tanks and driving around with the energy on board."

The German-based company Conductix Wampfler started using inductive power transfer on European bus routes starting in 2002.

"There’s huge interest for electric vehicles," said Conductix Wampfler representative Giles Hernandez. "The point is, there’s political pressure where politicians want to demonstrate how they support clean, energy-efficient solutions in public transportation. Pure electric buses look very, very attractive."

Muhs said plans are already in the works for next year’s conference which is scheduled for Feb. 7-8 in 2013. Wandering the crowds on Friday with pen and paper in hand, he was trying to find people willing to head next year’s conference committee.

"We’re not just envisioning the next steps, we’re beginning to work on them," Muhs said. "There’s a need to begin to build more networks, more collaborations."