The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has announced it will host the United States’ first test of EV-charging concrete. Research is underway at Purdue University to develop the project, which will embed wireless charging technology into a quarter-mile stretch of road. With it, drivers will be able to charge their electric vehicles while driving or parked.
INDOT partnered with the Advancing Sustainability through Power Infrastructure for Road Electrification (ASPIRE) Initiative to implement the three-phase project. German startup Magment GmbH will supply (you guessed it) magnetizable cement to facilitate seamless, wireless charging of EVs while the vehicles are in motion.
“We’re quite eager to see this first of its kind project unfold in Indiana,” David Christensen, ASPIRE’s Innovation Director, said. “This partnership that includes Magment, INDOT, Purdue University, and the larger ASPIRE consortium has great promise to really move the needle on technology development, which will, in turn, enable more positive impacts from deeper electric vehicle adoption.”
Three-Phase Rollout of EV-Charging Concrete
Purdue University will handle most of the project’s first two phases, which involve testing. Technicians will test samples of the EV-charging concrete at its West Lafayette campus in preparation for the road trial. Their task is to determine the innovative concrete’s capacity to charge heavy trucks that require high power to operate (200 kilowatts and above).
As soon as there’s a consensus on materials, the project will move to the third phase, where INDOT takes the controls to build a quarter-mile strip at a still-undecided location. Pending the conclusion of Phase 3, INDOT will install the new technology on a segment of interstate highway somewhere in Indiana.
There’s no timeline for the project yet, but the key players frame it as a significant step in EV tech viability.
“As electric vehicles become more widely used, demand for reliable, convenient charging infrastructure continues to grow, and the need to innovate is clear,” INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “We’re excited to partner with Purdue and Magment to explore incorporating wireless charging technology into highway infrastructure.”
Upshot: What It Means for EV Drivers
If the collaborative project renders results that warrant the electrified concrete’s widespread deployment, it could completely change the EV-charging game.
The magnetizable, EV-charging concrete’s 200kW capacity beats state-of-the-art public chargers by 50kW. However, it’s unclear how much power will be lost in wireless transmission. And a substantive discussion regarding the cost to customers, or even a method for orchestrating transactions, has yet to occur. But there’s really no arguing the convenience of a charge-as-you-go system.
“This project is a real step forward towards the future of dynamic wireless charging,” said Mauricio Esguerra, CEO of Magment, “that will undoubtedly set the standard for affordable, sustainable, and efficient transportation electrification.”
“Undoubtedly” may be a little strong — then again, it probably wasn’t very long ago that you doubted concrete’s ability to charge electric cars.
Learn more about Magment’s magnetizable, EV-charging concrete here.