eWayBW – 18-Kilometer Research Lab on the B 462 Highway
Some 6% of overall carbon emissions in Germany are caused by road freight transport. Climate-friendly alternative drives are therefore in demand and are currently being tested in the eWayBW pilot project. HFI-welded pipes from Mannesmann Line Pipe are playing a strong supporting role in this.
The focus of the eWayBW pilot project is the near-authentic electric operation of hybrid trolley trucks (HT trucks), modeled on electrified rail lines. During the three-year pilot, however, alternative drive technologies will be deployed alongside the HT trucks: a hydrogen/fuel cell truck, a bio-methane truck, a purely battery-electric truck with a pantograph, i.e. with power pick-ups on the overhead line, and two other purely battery-electric trucks. One of the HT trucks is also temporarily using synthetic fuels, so-called reFuels, for hybrid operation. This means that all currently promising drive technologies for climate-friendlier road haulage are being tested.
Accompanying scientific research will primarily examine energy supply and consumption as well as the impact of the drives in terms of noise emissions, air pollution and road design. The 18 km test section on the B 462 highway in the Murg Valley in Baden-Württemberg provides the ideal conditions for this. Two freight forwarders ship around 500,000 metric tons of paper per year in 24/7 operation from paper mills in Gernsbach-Obertsrot to a logistics center in Kuppenheim. With up to 64 return trips per day, the HT trucks cover a total of over 100,000 km on the test section every year.
No end-to-end electrification required
However, of the 18 km, only two sections with a total length of just under 4 km are electrified with overhead wires. End-to-end electrification is not necessary because the trucks employed all have a battery that is additionally charged during contact with the overhead lines. Regular operation on the test section started on September 21, 2021.
How the system works
Sensors in the roof of the truck detect whether there is an overhead wire above the vehicle. The built-in pantographs are extended and supply the electric motor with power. As soon as the overhead wire ends or the truck starts an overtaking maneuver, the hybrid drive kicks in. The advantage of a battery-based hybrid drive is that the battery is charged while power is supplied by the contact wire, so that the maximum range is available in battery mode when the vehicle leaves the overhead wire section.
Modeled on the railroads
The overhead lines of the eWayBW system are based on the contact wire technology used on railroads, although they are operated with a low voltage of 670 V compared to the usual 15,000. They are suspended from masts with crossbeams spaced about 50 m apart. The contact wires attached to the booms are held at a height of 5.12 m and can be lowered to as low as 4.70 m if required.
High material requirements, delivery at short notice
Because of delivery problems associated with the originally envisaged tube manufacturer, Siemens Mobility sent an inquiry to Mannesmann Line Pipe via its partner Metalogalva in Portugal. As the masts take the entire bearing loads of the crossbeams and power supply lines, the material had to be suitably dimensioned. HFI-welded steel tubes in diameters of 508 and 610 mm with wall thicknesses of 8 to 20 mm in grade S355J2H to EN 10219-1 or EN 10210-1 were used. It was also possible to reduce the requested delivery time from 13 to only 5 weeks. This was facilitated by the flexible rescheduling of existing orders, as well as the use of input material that was actually intended for the production of new stock.
Road freight transport of the future
The system will be piloted until mid-2024, with the trucks being pooled and made flexibly available to the participating companies. This means that each company can test the various vehicles and also gain its own experience concurrently with scientific evaluation. The various drive options will turn the eWayBW project into an 18 km research lab for the climate-friendly road freight transport of the future.