As growing numbers of people move to the cities, the need for sustainable public transportation services is increasing as well. With the ElectriCity bus line as a live laboratory, Chalmers researchers are exploring a number of issues associated with sustainable cities of the future.
Ensuring low air and noise pollution will grow in importance as the numbers of people who need to get from
one place to the other in the expanding cities increases. Since June 2015, a fleet of electric buses operate on Line 55 between Lindholmen and Johanneberg, the two Chalmers campuses. The line is part of ElectriCity, a collaborative project of the private sector, academia and public agencies to promote sustainable public transportation services for the future. The role of Chalmers is to supply resear
“It goes without saying that major improvements can be achieved by replacing noisy diesel engines with much quieter electric motors that do not discharge any exhaust fumes,” says Ulf Östermark, coordinator of ElectriCity research at Chalmers. “The unanswered question is whether opportunities for developing and experiencing cities in new ways will also emerge as a result.”
Chalmers researchers will take various approaches to address the question within the scope of several different studies. Noise, environmental concerns, safety, technology, behavioural patterns and sustainability are among the topics to be examined. How much can noise and emissions be reduced? What will be the socioeconomic benefits of less illness and premature death?
ElectriCity combines the design of vehicles, bus stops and information into a comprehensive solution. Allowing buses to run in facilities intended for people has been inconceivable to this point, but vehicles that are free of exhaust and almost noiseless completely change the equation. With that idea in mind, the ElectriCity bus stop at Lindholmen will be located indoors. It will serve as a live laboratory unlike any that the world has ever known.
Examples of Chalmers’ research projects linked to ElectriCity:
Indoor Bus Stop – a big experiment
A bus driving in and out from a building gives rise to new, interesting situations to study. How can a good climate level be maintained in a building when large doors have to be frequently opened to let buses in and out, and when the buses themselves are a source of heat or cold depending on the outdoor temperature? The project is studying how control technology can be used to control the climate and minimise energy losses. By transmitting data from the arriving bus to the indoor bus stop, the building can be made ready to receive the bus and travellers. For example, if the building receives information on how many people will soon disembark from the bus, the premises' heating can be adjusted, thus saving energy.
Another issue is the relationship between the increased costs that result from an indoor bus stop and the additional value that travellers may experience.
This project is evaluating the ElectriCity buses and bus stops from the perspective of travellers and residents in the area. An important question is if the individuals perceive and value the unique qualities (low noise level, exhaust-free operation) that electric vehicles provide. Do they experience an improvement in the quality of public transport?
Electrified vehicles allow public transport to move in closer to housing and workplaces. The project investigates how people react and behave when buses drive indoors or other places that vehicles normally do not drive. Do they feel threatened by the buses? Are they inclined to take risks?
A further issue is how the design of the bus stops impact the flow of travellers in and out of the bus? The better the flow, the shorter the time the bus needs to stay at the bus stop.
Quiet Public Spaces
Keeping noise levels low is a challenge in the densified cities of the future. Noise is known to cause increased stress, decreased ability to concentrate and can cause cardiovascular disease. This project investigates how quiet oases can be created in the public environment – spaces where residents can take a break from the city's bothersome background noise.
The outdoor bus stop at Sven Hultins Plats is being used as the test site. Bothersome traffic noise is muffled using advanced technology, while providing waiting travellers with a pleasant sound experience.
The way of working within ElectriCity is groundbreaking. Several organisations act together with a common focus. Together with three ElectriCity partners, Chalmers has applied for research funding to investigate how the collaboration type supports the growth of attractive innovation environments in the region.
Connecting charging stations to the grid
Researchers at the Division of Electric Power Engineering at Chalmers study, with support from the Swedish Energy Agency, the connection of the charging stations with high power to the grid. The project analyses options for reducing the impact on the grid, including the use of energy storage, user flexibility, and reactive power compensation.Contact: David Steen