The economic analysis of wireless powered roadway technology for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles

Project Code: 10482231

Faculty: Faculty of Engineering

Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering

Main Supervisor: Dr Prakash Ranjitkar

Principal investigator: Professor Grant Covic (gcov001)

Application open date: 09 Dec 2021

Application deadline: 31 Jul 2022

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International

Introduction

Over the past 5 years, the NZ government has recognised the critical importance that wireless power brings to the uptake of electric vehicles and the associated benefits that accrue as a consequence including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved urban air quality. Substantial funding has been provided to enable a large multidisciplinary team to work together to develop robust roadway-charging systems for EVs. The team comprises experts from the University of Auckland’s power electronics research group, the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials, the Transportation Research Centre and the Energy Centre working together with materials engineers at GNS Science and Victoria University in Wellington. 

Recently this team has been awarded a second MBIE Endeavour grant to continue the work for a further 5 years focusing on the entire transportation fleet, including commercial fleet and heavy-duty vehicles to enable wirelessly fast chargers at off-road hubs and wireless power to the vehicle while it is on the move, from within selected roadways. This wider collaboration includes researchers from Auckland University of Technology, University of Cambridge UK, and close collaboration with ASPIRE, a large multi-university NSF funded Engineering Research Centre in the USA. The team will also work closely with industry partners within NZ and globally.

Implementation of wireless charging relies upon the development of novel electronic, magnetic and mechanical (for in-road pavement ready) designs that are fit for purpose (thermally and mechanically robust, and efficient in operation over their lifespan). It also relies on suitable sizing and placement to ensure operational efficiency and the economic viability of electric transportation in urban and rural communities. This new research aims to provide solutions for large buses and trucks that help reduce their battery weight and charging times while extending driving range, to help NZ meet its future electrified transportation and emissions goals.

As part of this larger project, the transportation economics group has one fully funded PhD opportunity available to conduct research on the economic analysis of inductive power transfer (IPT) roadway technology for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, with focuses on its energy use, environmental benefits, and policy pathways.  The successful applicant will work within this internationally significant and connected, multidisciplinary team.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

-        Experience in traffic simulation and economic modelling is desirable.

-        Postgraduate degree (e.g., ME) specialising in Transportation Engineering is preferred.

-        Evidence of an outstanding academic track record, research skills and technical writing.

Objective

Areas of focus for potential students 

Previous research has used NZ as a showcase to demonstrate that it is economically viable to foster the commercialisation of IPT systems in passenger fleets through a public-private partnership approach. It is also evident that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) perform better than other types of vehicles in terms of emission reduction and energy use. We will extend analysis and simulation modelling methods undertaken on light EVs to other transport modes including electric buses, trucks and other heavy-duty fleets, using real-time traffic data:

      (i)            Analyse various state-of-charge levels and the associated change in user behaviour (range anxiety), to make models more realistic.

    (ii)            Develop new economic models on use cases to compare and contrast the efficiencies of stationary fast-charging stations ‘fuelling’ versus continuous or intermittent in-road charging (dynamic wireless charging).

   (iii)            Investigate the impact of the IPT-based electrified road system on electricity demand and grid load to understand the charging patterns based on the total power flow along at the power line with the provision of IPT roadway system

   (iv)            Investigate the economic, environmental and social influence of electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles under different scenarios (peri-urban commuting; urban traffic; public transport).

    (v)            Undertake sensitivity analysis for planning better policy pathways.

Other information

Financials Details:

·         A tax-free stipend @ $28,500 per-annum (pa), plus tuition, students services fees and health insurance

·         Research related costs including conference travel up to $6,000 pa

 

How to Apply:

Applicants to contact Dr Prakash Ranjitkar through email with the following ideally before 15 January 2022

-        An academic CVincluding your relevant experience and publications

-        Copy of degree certificate(s)

-        A 1-2 page cover letter stating why the applicant intends to pursue a PhD in Wireless Powered Infrastructure

-        Names and contact details of at least 2 referees who can be contacted for a confidential recommendation

 

Contact information:

Dr Prakash Ranjitkar (p.ranjitkar@auckland.ac.nz)

Dr Selena Sheng (m.sheng@auckland.ac.nz)

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