Chattanooga's electric-powered buses could be quickly recharged at the end of every route if a new wireless technology is funded and proves successful.
The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority is seeking a $2.4 million federal grant to match $600,000 of state and local funds to buy three new buses and test a wireless recharging system on Chattanooga streets.
"If this proves successful to give enough charge in a short enough time and is durable enough, this has the potential of helping to operate our buses on traditional routes without diesel fuel," CARTA Executive Director Tom Dugan said.
CARTA operates one of the nation's largest fleets of battery-powered buses. It tested the equipment at the UTC vehicle test track near the Chickamauga Dam.
The $100,000 coils and charging equipment are about the size of a dining room table and are sunk in the ground. The bus recharges by lowering its recharging equipment to within a few inches of the coils, Dugan said.
"With a lithium-iodide phosphorus battery technology, we can put a battery pack in a bus with these new wireless rechargers at a low enough cost to replace a diesel bus on a standard city route," said Albert E. Curtis III, the founder and president of EVAmerica. "It could recharge any time you need it to at the end of each route."
The Federal Transit Administration is expected to decide by the end of the year upon requests from CARTA and hundreds of other applicants seeking part of $49.8 million set aside by Congress last year for the Transit Improvement in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction program.