Editorial Feature

Ebusco 3.0: Redefining Public Transport with Game-Changing Composite Materials

Image Credit: alexfan32/Shutterstock.com

With concerns for global warming and CO2 emissions rising, new industries are looking for ways to innovate everyday life to lower the population’s carbon footprint, without sacrificing their customer’s comfort or usability. The electric bus industry is one of these emergent industries, lowering the emissions from public transport. Dutch electric bus company Ebusco is also taking its innovations one step further: composite material buses, inspired by aerospace technology.

What are Composite Materials?

Composite materials are the combination of multiple materials with significant chemical and property differences (high strength, electrical resistivity, etc.) The composite material inherits the characteristics from all the substances making it, creating a single material with a sum, generally, more useful than its parts.

A common example of modern composite materials is carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs). These polymers consist of a sheet-like structure of thin carbon fibers inside a matrix of polymer resin. The polymer resin is lightweight, with a high modulus of elasticity, and the fibers have high strength and durability, giving the composite its significantly useful properties.

Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Polymers in the Aerospace Industry

Mangalgiri (1999) described three of the nine features of an aircraft structure to be “light-weight” to reduce fuel consumption, “high reliability” as large stresses are endured throughout the flight, and “durability” so the airframe does not fail through fatigue. From these criteria, it is evident why composite materials, with some of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of all materials, are so emergent in the industry.

For these reasons, CFRPs are utilized extensively in the aerospace manufacturing industry. Their strength-to-weight ratio is a significant advantage, as it allows aircraft to handle moderately high forces while using less fuel than a heavier alternative. In relatively modern aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, composite materials make up 80% of the volume (and 50% of the weight) of the aircraft structure (Giurgiutiu 2016).

Though all the previously mentioned features are critical for an aircraft’s structure, they are also still greatly beneficial to public transport vehicles. Ebusco, a Dutch company specializing in the design and manufacture of next-generation electric buses, has taken inspiration from the aerospace industry in its latest design, the Ebusco 3.0. This bus design’s body frame will be constructed using composite materials such as those used on an aircraft.

The Benefits of Composite Materials in the Ebusco 3.0

Like on modern aircraft, this design innovation will lead to an increase in range. Compared to Ebusco’s previous model, the Ebusco 2.2, the Ebusco 3.0 has a weight reduction of 33%. Less weight in the bus frame means less energy is required to move it. This allows the Ebusco 3.0 to travel up to 500 km, up to 350 km from the Ebusco 2.2.

The high strength and durability of the material also mean the frame of the bus will be much more resistant to damage and will have a longer lifespan than other public transport vehicles that are built with more common materials. The Ebusco 3.0 is predicted to last a minimum of 15 years before refurbishment is required.

The composite frame of the bus has allowed other innovations to be made in the Ebusco 3.0’s design. The most obvious example being the interior floor of the bus being completely flat, with all the vehicle’s batteries hidden underneath.

Meet the newest electric bus: Ebusco 3.0, it is made completely out of composite materials

Video Credit: Ebusco Zero Emission/YouTube.com

Though this change may seem inconspicuous, it has many benefits over other competitors in the electric bus industry. The first most obvious benefit is the placement of the batteries under the floor, leaving the passenger section of the vehicle more open. Ebusco has used this opportunity to give the bus a panoramic window across the roof. Allowing more natural light in and making the bus feel more spacious.

The battery placement also has a more practical purpose: keeping the center of gravity low. This increases the steerability of the bus significantly. This effect, which increases the driving experience of the public transport vehicle, is enhanced by having such a light body (as the lighter the main body, the more influence the battery placement will have on the center of mass.)

Finally, the flat floor leaves the interior walkway of the bus to be more spacious. This improves the comfortability of the bus for its passengers and the accessibility of the bus. A less cramped, tight walkway will benefit less abled passengers when boarding and traveling.

One of the main downsides to composite materials is their price relative to other materials. This likely means that the Ebusco 3.0 will likely be more expensive to manufacture than other buses. However, the reduced fuel consumption, increased lifespan, and reduced maintenance costs leave the Ebusco team to predict that the total ownership cost of the bus will be reduced from its predecessor.

According to Ebusco’s website, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the initial projected timescale for the Ebusco 3.0’s release. Not only has the pandemic effectively halted large-scale manufacturing companies (either directly or by interfering with material imports), but the lack of travel has also led the public transport sector to be “hit hard financially” (Ebusco 2020). Thankfully, the company believes that, despite these delays, demands for electric buses will increase dramatically once lockdowns have lifted.

References and Further Reading

Ebusco (2020) Creating a more efficient electric bus with help from the aviation industry. [online] Available at: https://www.ebusco.com/creating-a-more-efficient-electric-bus-with-help-from-the-aviation-industry/ (Accessed 23 May 2021).

Ebusco (2019) The Ebusco 3.0 designed to be a gamechanger in the electric bus industry. [online] Available at: https://www.ebusco.com/wp-content/uploads/Brochure-3.0-1.pdf (Accessed 23 May 2021).

Substech.com (2012) Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites. [online] Available at: https://www.substech.com/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=carbon_fiber_reinforced_polymer_composites (Accessed 24 May 2021).

Katnam, K., Da Silva, L. and Young, T. (2013) Bonded repair of composite aircraft structures: A review of scientific challenges and opportunities. Progress in Aerospace Sciences, 61, pp.26-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paerosci.2013.03.003

Giurgiutiu, V. (2016) Structural health monitoring of aerospace composites. London: Elsevier Inc.

Sloan, J. (2016) Materials & Processes: Composites fibers and resins. [online] Compositesworld.com. Available at: https://www.compositesworld.com/articles/composites-101-fibers-and-resins  (Accessed 23 May 2021).

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Terry Ventre

Written by

Terry Ventre

Terry is a recent graduate from the University of Liverpool, with a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. He has always had a passion for writing and studied Literature in English at Marlborough College at A level. Terry's dissertation at university related to medical engineering, where he built a test rig to analyze the material properties of soft robotic actuators to be used in a medical setting.  

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