New ‘wireless’ charging development could see electric car sales overtake petrol and diesel 0

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Two of the most obvious drawbacks with electric vehicles (at least in their current state) is the limited range the battery allows, and the length of time it takes to charge them.

With the Government’s newly drafted legislation, which will see the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles banned from 2040, electric cars are no longer just a ‘greener’ alternative; the next few years will see a seismic shift towards EVs, so the range and charging issues will be the main area where improvements need to be made.

Recent models, such as Tesla’s Models X and S, have seen improvements in both these problems, but the price tag that comes with both vehicles is exorbitant.

Things could be about to change however. A group of scientists have been working on new technology that could potentially see cars charged wirelessly whilst they are on the move.

Wireless charging could improve a vehicle’s range by a significant margin and if the technology develops as the scientists believe it could, it could result in electric vehicle batteries never going completely flat.

The team of scientists, based at Stanford University are building on existing research conducted by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) aiming to fully realise the ‘charging on the go’ concept.

In the project, the scientists used wireless power to make an electric light illuminate as the vehicle moved. The distance achieved was only one metre, but the possible implications could be significant.

The overall aim of the project was to test the feasibility of transferring power over distances greater than one metre. At present, the technology is far from being able to power a moving vehicle but the test did at least prove that the concept is possible.

MIT engineers first developed the software over ten years ago. They were able to transmit 60 watts of power with 40% efficiency to a stationary object over two metres away.

The current research team had problems with the frequency of a moving magnetic field. They solved the problem however by using a voltage amplifier plus a feedback resistor that was able to automatically adjust voltage.

Head of the project, Sid Assawaworrarit said: “Adding the amplifier and resistor allows power to be very efficiently transferred across most of the three-foot (1 metre) range and despite the changing orientation of the receiving coil.  

“This eliminates the need for automatic and continuous tuning of any aspect of the circuits.”

The resistor and amplifier kept the light lit consistently over the one metre distance for the duration of the test, with the intensity remaining constant.

This builds on the results of another series of tests that theorised a motorway ‘charging lane’ that could help electric HGVs breakthrough into the mainstream.

French carmaker Renault is also experimenting with the idea. Their concept involves a strip applied to the road which would enable the car to collect power on the move.

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