Getting on the Electric Vehicle Fast-Lane

Roads That Charge Vehicles

England has announced a test period for creating a highway lane that will recharge electric vehicles traveling on it. 1)The UK is testing out roads that charge electric cars as they go, Mashable, Aug 17, 2015 2)Roads That Charge Electric Cars as They Drive May Be Coming to the UK, MIC, Aug 19, 2015  South Korea has had an operating bus transit road since Aug 2013. 3)World’s first road-powered electric vehicle network switches on in South Korea, ExtremeTech, Aug 6, 2013 4)KAIST rolling out dynamic wireless charging in buses in South Korea, Green Car Congress, Aug 8, 2013. The network of 15 miles serving two buses, with 10 more buses planned for 2015. Improvements in On-Line Electric Vehicle technology have brought charging efficiency up to 85%. Recharging plates are 400 lbs each and 5 pickups are used 20cm above the road for a 100kw charge. It is a lot of weight to consider for a passenger vehicle, but works for mass transit buses beautifully, saving thousands of pounds in battery weight.


Combining Technologies 

Source: Highways England

Looking at this Highways England plan there are ways to improve the design. Depending on the electric current needed it may be possible to work from two CLEAN energy sources.

  1. Solar Energy
    • Using solar panel arrays beneath or instead of electric lines from the side of the road.
    • A solar photovoltaic  film down the center of lanes that are not conductive.
    • Best option though is Solar Roadways, which enable much more than the recharging of electric vehicles.  
  2. Kinetic Energy
    • Pressure generated by vehicles traveling on the surface could be picked up for conversion. This could even be applied with the Solar Roadways technology as a future revision.

The combination of solar roadways along with a recharging lane for electric vehicles makes perfect sense. Each providing massive paradigm shift for solving so many issues we encounter. The innovations might even be proactive enough to solve future issues as they rise!

Solar Roadways

Solar Roadways was awarded several grants through the Department of Transportation to continue research and development. However moving to production would require more funding, which the firm recently received using crowd-funding.

The IndieGoGo campaign for Solar Roadways met the $1 million development target by 212% with donations coming from around the world. The popularity of the campaign has it reopened to continue spreading its message. One of the huge advantages of crowd-sourced projects is they remain in the control of those developing them. A recent update video post discusses this.

Solar Roadways made a visit to Maker Faire Detroit (July 25-26, 2015) with several demonstration panels open for holding discussion. The programmable nature of the panels views locations such as the crumbling paving stones around Hart Plaza as a huge opportunity. 

Systems Changes Possible

Accident detection via Solar Roadways
Accident detection via Solar Roadways
  • Warming of surface to eliminate snow / ice removal
  • Storm water runoff management
  • Detected interference on roadways from animals or accidents
  • Illumination on surface for messaging to travellers, configurable parking area notices, and even entertainment spaces
  • Wireless Internet provided along all roads
  • Excess energy to supplement neighborhoods near roadways
  • Detected presence of OLEV enables switching on/off the charging of surface for pickup.
  • Decentralized automation of sections of roadways with plenty of feedback sent up for analysis.

There are detractors busy criticizing and analyzing. This is not a problem, but a way to improve designs and concepts. Refined processes don’t just show up. Stress testing of massive systems requires actual work and discovery during that process. One of the problems faced by Solar Roadways were providers that won bids being able to actually meet the needs for the project. These situations wildly throw off timelines on projects. One advantage is spin-off projects that use subsets of the technology to derive faster to implementation production. These are sentiments carried in one of the best articles critiquing the project that I’ve seen. 5)Would Solar Roadways Work? A Government Engineer Discusses the Controversial Technology, Green Tech Media, Aug 29, 2014

“I believe the application can be used for smaller scale purposes — potentially, pedestrian walkways and sidewalks that get lower load and have fewer safety considerations. For roads, there are so many unknowns. In terms of the long-term vision, I don’t consider it to be realistic. But I enjoy the vision and appreciate it, and will try to support them to see what other benefits may present themselves,” said Eric Weaver, Department of Transportation.

Existing Systems Stifle Implementation of Innovation

The biggest hurdle to revolutionary technological advances will be open-minded, creative legislation and policies to be built around adopting them. Michigan claims to be capable, however this would revolutionize many long-standing industries heavily invested in Michigan’s economy. That means a flood of lobbying money will show up to control loss for existing business. There could be lawsuits filed claiming loss of profits as cause by these corporate entities. It would seem fossil fuel businesses would be most impacted and are known well to behave like they have arterial bleeding requiring a tourniquet. As new technology stabilizes and becomes proven we have to move forward; departing and reducing from what isn’t working, namely pollution and extraction of fossil products requiring a million years to produce. The future for adoption is going to take a decade or more – but the public will be seeing change in that period that is worth supporting.

Stress of Systems Change Affects Everything

A change this big could affect everything. Every sector of our fossil fuel based economy will be impacted. Jobs will be created during the overhaul of systems. It will require retraining of skilled workers and transition into green energy employment. Our environmental impact here in Michigan would change for the better and the future of our Great Lakes would be more sustainable and restorative.

Our ways of thinking about energy have steadily been changing and the majority of Americans would welcome solar energy and electronic vehicles provided the infrastructure existed for sustaining the shift. Addressing our Michigan Roads situation needs some fresh thought and new energy put into it.

References   [ + ]

Breathing Toxic Soup – SO2 Hearing

At 6:50am I opened the door and was greeted by the sound of what could be mistaken as a missile set to carry a ship into space. In truth that sound was eminating from one of these industrial polluters over a mile away:

  1. Marathon Refinery
  2. Ak Steel Dearborn Works – Blast Furnace (formerly Severstal Steel Dearborn M.I.)
  3. US Steel 80″ Hot Mill
  4. Detroit Waste Water Treatment

48217 - Dirtiest Zipcode in Michigan, photo - Emma Lockridge
48217 – Dirtiest Zipcode in Michigan, photo – Emma Lockridge

These breathing behemouths churn the air around them struggling to exhaust a toxic soup of pollutatnts as quickly as possible (see Emissions below). The area has been “out of attainment” on Sulfur Dioxide for over a decade. Permits to install more machinery to either mitigate or increase the chemicals come through in a dizzying array from all sources.

I have been to many public hearings regarding Marathon Refinery, and AK Steel (when under Severstal North America). The problems we face are not being taken care of. Each piecemeal permit petition is confined and unwilling to take on the greater problem.

Marathon-Emissions Continue reading Breathing Toxic Soup – SO2 Hearing

Hazmat Facility with no Disaster Mitigation Plan for Public

WDET reports that US Eology has filed a Permit To Install with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

A hazardous waste facility on Detroit’s Eastside is looking to expand. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing the company’s permit proposal to determine if the facility can increase its capacity.  rose_mary_c._robinson-image-268State Representative Rose Mary Robinson is working to delay the DEQ’s decision. She says there are too many unanswered questions about US Ecology—the company that operates the facility.

“I want more answers. I mean at that public hearing the people that testified talked about dust coming out of that facility, and the men in hazmat suits coming out and cleaning it up, but no one’s cleaning it up off their homes and their porches.”

—Rose Mary Robinson, State Representative

DEQ representatives say if US Ecology is found in violation of any regulations, the permit for expansion will not be granted. A public comment period for the permit runs through September 12th. 

To submit a public comment, residents can contact Richard A. Conforti at or 517-284-6558

Working on Environmental Justice

Our people are sick and very sick of being sick.

I’ve looked through a number of environmental situations going on around the 14th District and the neighboring 13th District. Most of these around the farthest reach south in the 14th District, near Marthon Refinery and the Detroit Water Treatment Plant.

Marathon’s DHOUP – Detroit Heavy Oil Upgrade Project – view from Oakwood Heights neighborhood
Oakwood Heights homes on the edge of Marathon’s expansion of refinery operations. There is little to no buffer zone since the DHOUP began operating in November 2012.

We had a petcoke (petroleum coke) problem in downtown Detroit in 2013. 40 foot tall piles were placed along the Detroit River near downtown.


Haze of dust from a freshly dumped load - petcoke contains lead, nickel, chromium, and more
Haze of dust from a freshly dumped load – petcoke contains lead, nickel, chromium, and more
Panorama of petcoke piles (4 frames)
Panorama of petcoke piles (4 frames)

It took organizing people working through the system, mounting resistance activities, to have the city realize there was a matter of illegal dumping and storage.

Savage Industries talking with Detroit Police and Border Patrol
Savage Industries talking with Detroit Police and Border Patrol
Concerned public gathered in the auditorium
Concerned public gathered in the auditorium during public hearing regarding a zoning variance that would have allowed the storage and shipping of petcoke to remain.

But that problem didn’t completely stop – it moved downstream to Ecorse. We continue to organize against the simplistic manner Detroit Bulk Storage was working with Koch Minerals. Communities have heard and organized resistance along the Detroit River.


Public Comment Submitted

The response given for question B.2.J Public Involvement Plan (of the Corrective Action attachment) “Not applicable, since no on site contamination currently exists at the facility.”This response indicates there was no sufficient disaster mitigation planning at the onset of this project in 2007. The failure to create such a plan simply because “no on site contamination currently exists” shows there is not even a solid reactionary plan in place to protect the public. 

MDEQ in accepting and approving such a plan in 2007 without disaster mitigation planning did not protect the public as an agency of the State of Michigan would be required. What is the proper remedy when both the company and regulator have failed to protect the public? Would the facility be halted from daily operations until it established such a plan and worked with the public such that it was implemented?
We can not continue to REACT to failures in business practices that could have been prevented had CONTROLLED PLANNING happened in advance. Working with the public is so important for any industrial corporation.

Prior Violation by US Ecology

A ruling between US Ecology and the Illinois EPA showed the company had failed to establish sufficient liability coverage required by a hazardous waste facility. Is this pattern of violations continuing?

Providing proof for section M (page 6 on MID 074 259 565) of the boilerplate Hazardous Waste Management Facility Operating License would be a step towards ensuring the safety of the public.

“The licensee shall continuously maintain liability coverage for sudden and accidental occurrences and
nonsudden accidental occurrences, as required by R 299.9710. ” 

Community Engagement is Needed

Communities need to know that they are considered for involvement in the event of an accident with more than financial support once such an event happens. Meeting with a local Community Advisory Council1)Community Advisory Councils: Improving Resident Access to Detroit City Government2)Detroit People’s Platform: Community Advisory Councils, brings corporations together with the public. These CACs demonstrate partnering and being on the same ground, breathing the same air, and drinking the same water as residents.

References   [ + ]

Limiting Local Regulations – Disabling Paid Sick Leave

The “Local Government Labor Regulatory Limitation Act” landed on Governor Snyder’s desk at 1:50pm Monday June 22. It’s been passed by the House, revised during Senate review and passed by the Senate with House approval. Coincidentally, CBS’ Sunday Morning held a segment on Paid Sick Leave and how far behind the US in worldwide policy.

Source: CBS News / NY Times

Knowing full well that HB4052 is intended to kill the movement for Michigan to enable Paid Sick Days, what action will Governor Snyder take? Let’s look more closely and the answer is obvious, and Michigan’s roads are impacted too. You can call the Governor’s Office at (517) 335-7858, or use this online form.

Continue reading Limiting Local Regulations – Disabling Paid Sick Leave

Stephen Boyle – Green Party Candidate for US Congress 14th District of Michigan

I footnotes