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Kansas City airport first to have wireless charging electric bus fleet

Christian Fernsby |
As part of the $1.5-billion Kansas City International Airport New Terminal project, the Kansas City Aviation Department is investing in the first wireless inductive vehicle charging system at an airport in the world.

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The Aviation Department will use this technology to extend the range of its electric buses without installing an obtrusive, above-ground charging infrastructure or taking buses out of service for charging. Pennsylvania-based Momentum Dynamics will provide the charging solution, which will be in place to charge buses when the New Terminal opens in early 2023.

"We are designing and building a modern New Terminal and we want to make sure that its support infrastructure does not detract from the design," said Fleet Manager Kenneth Williams. "Inductive charging was not only an efficient solution in terms of monetary outlay and ongoing costs but was the only system we found that can deliver energy without the traditional plug-in infrastructure."

Kansas City International Airport has long been at the leading edge of environmental innovation. In the mid-1990s, the Kansas City Aviation Department was an early adopter of Compressed Natural Gas technology when it incorporated CNG vehicles into its shuttle bus fleet, complete with fueling station.

In 2017, the Aviation Department was the first U.S. airport operator to use all electric buses when it added four BYD buses to its fleet and three more in 2020.

The inductive system will provide frequent incremental charging to the existing KCI Economy Parking electric shuttle buses, thus keeping the buses in service along the seven-mile loop without the need to return to the garage for charging during the day.

The system will be supported by two 300 kilowatt (kW) wireless inductive chargers located at shuttle bus stops at the New Terminal just outside of baggage claim. While awaiting passengers, the electric buses will park over the inductive charging pads and will automatically charge while parked over the in-ground pads.

With this wireless system, the charging is fully automatic and requires very little interaction by the driver. Charging takes place while the passengers are loading and unloading; each charging session automatically ends when the bus departs from the pad.

At night, the vehicles have the option of charging away from public view at the bus operations facility, but this is usually unnecessary with on-route wireless charging as the bus batteries remain nearly fully charged throughout the day.

It is anticipated that these two chargers will support the entire KCI parking fleet of approximately 28 vehicles keeping them in continuous operations at peak demand periods. It removes the need to have a dedicated charger for each bus.

Initially, four existing BYD K7 30-foot electric buses will be retrofitted with the Momentum wireless system enabling automatic charging of the vehicles' batteries. The inductive charging system is designed to work in all weather conditions.


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