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The Future of EVs: Wireless Battery Charging

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On: Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 10:57AM | By: Chris Weiss

The Future of EVs: Wireless Battery Charging

The electric automobile industry faces a large hurdle in developing the infrastructure and technology needed to make charging vehicles both practical and easy. One of the main negatives of electric vehicles is that they require special equipment, time and effort for charging. Another big negative is that unlike gasoline vehicles, which can be filled up by the gas stations that line nearly every route in the country, there simply isn't a sufficient charging infrastructure in place, leading consumers to have justifiable concerns with range anxiety.

One technology that is in development by a new team-up of companies could address these major concerns all at once. Imagine being able to pull up into a parking spot and get a charge without having to connect a single wire. That's the future of wireless EV charging.

Wireless charging is still in the rough stages but a collaboration between two firms, Delphi Automotive and WiTricity Corporation, intends to bring the technology to homes in the future. A wireless charging station with a power resonator would be placed on the floor of the charging area. A power resonator capable of capturing the power wirelessly through a process of magnetic induction would be built into the underside of the electric vehicle. The system would allow hybrid and EV drivers to simply park over the charging panel to begin charging.

As anyone that ever made an electromagnet in grade school knows, electricity and magnetism go hand in hand. Simply put, the wireless charging system would use this concept in order to transfer electricity through a magnetic field between the charging station and the vehicle. Similar systems capable of charging cell phone batteries like the Palm Pre Touchstone and Powermat have launched over the past year or two.

While wireless charging would be easier and more convenient, it would take about the same amount of time as traditional residential plug-in charging systems. According to WiTricity, the wireless system is capable of transferring about 3,300 Watts of power.

It's not clear how long the system will take to develop. Hopefully, the companies involved will put it on the fast track so that it can be implemented before the greater charging infrastructure is manufactured around plug-in systems. If they could build this wireless system into home driveways/garages and public parking areas, it would make charging an easier, more attractive option.

Randy Sumner, director, global hybrid vehicle development, Delphi Packard Electrical/Electronic Architecture explained how the companies plan to integrate the technology in the market: “This is groundbreaking technology that could enable automotive manufacturers to integrate wireless charging directly into the design of their hybrid and electric vehicles. Delphi’s expertise in global engineering, validation and manufacturing coupled with WiTricity’s patented wireless energy transfer technology uniquely positions us to make wireless charging of electric vehicles a reality.”

Another company Evatron plans to introduce a similar wireless system called Plugless Power next year.


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