Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging — Will it Work?

Parking_bays_for_electric_cars

It’s intended to take the hassle out of electric vehicle charging, and, according to its designers, Qualcomm, is a simple but effective alternative to cumbersome plug-in charging stations. Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) is designed to eliminate unsightly charging stations and unnecessary cables, and with just about everything else we use today incorporating wireless technology, it seems like the next logical step for the plight of the eco-friendly car. Here we look at how plausible the innovative idea is before it goes on trial in London in November.

How would it work?

Wireless charging makes use of an electromagnetic field which transfers energy between two objects. The idea is that drivers will be able to park up at a charging station and have their vehicle recharged without even leaving their seat. Those who struggle to remember the basics of parallel parking from their driving lessons need not worry, as perfect pad and vehicle alignment won’t be necessary.

The technology, named Qualcomm Halo, will incorporate smaller batteries than are currently used at charging stations, but Qualcomm explains that drivers will be able to charge their car little and often, with increasing convenience. As these spaces will remain reserved for electric vehicle owners, there will hopefully be an increase in those converting from fuel cars.

The London experiment

The main vehicle test will be carried out using a specially adapted Delta Motorsport E4 Coupe. The Formula 1 car designer was required to add the pad to the vehicle in order to connect it to the road unit, as well as a touch screen interface to let the driver know when he or she is aligned with the charging pad.

Throughout the trial, charging pads stationed at Qualcomm’s West London office and at minicab company Addison Lee, will be put into practice. The initiative, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron is designed to demonstrate how WEVC can work in busy cities, such as London.

Time, or rather the lack of it, is everything in the city, so the option of quick, easy, and readily available charging is particularly appealing. With many making short but frequent trips, presumably the need for more charging pads will grow, as, hopefully, will the market for eco-friendly vehicles. As an added incentive, drivers of electric cars can expect to avoid the daily cost of London’s congestion charge.

So, is it plausible?

In short, yes. Technology is ever advancing, and Qualcomm Halo not only recognizes this, but also promotes the needed reduction of fuel emissions.

It’s not, however, alone in its wireless charging quest, with a similar trial already underway in Germany. Concept vehicles have also emerged from both Rolls-Royce, Delphi, and Infiniti/Nissan that include wireless charging technology. GoogleHertz, and Plugless Power are also testing out wireless charging technology. And researchers in Tokyo have created an electric roadway demo that wirelessly charges EVs.

Although wireless charging is designed, first and foremost, for city driving, it remains to be seen if it could ever work outside of the city. The fact that motorists may well require a car for both urban and rural driving, therefore, poses a problem.

Eco-friendly driving constantly comes up against questions of how practical it is, and Qualcomm’s idea is no exception. Certainly, the short-term vision has a lot of promise, but the long-term success of WEVC remains to be seen.

This guest post was written by an eco-friendly driver and blogger, Isabelle Guarella, on behalf of PassSmart.com.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1m5rg)

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Electric Airplanes Could Fly Forever on Laser Beams

Lockheed Martin has been collaborating with a Seattle-based company called LaserMotive to “refuel” electric aircraft in flight using laser beams that charge batteries wirelessly, and the latest round of testing not only met but beat expectations. The test took place indoors but if wireless laser battery charging can prove successful in the field, it would lay the groundwork for a new generation of electric aircraft as well as vehicles and robotic systems, too.

Green Jobs for Rechargeable Robots

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of LaserMotive’s wireless system, consider the implications of wireless recharging for vehicles as well as aircraft and also for the next big thing: robots.

Robotic devices are already commonplace in factories and warehouses, and they are being eyeballed for widespread application in the health care field, too. A wireless recharging system would have obvious benefits in terms of cord-free, flexible performance, and the practical elimination of down time.

Wireless recharging could also have an impact on green jobs for robots, for example in wind turbine and solar panel maintenance where robotic devices can relieve human workers from performing routine or hazardous tasks.

Wireless Laser Charging

According to a recent article in optics.org, LaserMotive’s initial goal was to develop a laser-charging system for a cable-climbing robot, which dovetails with the green jobs angle. However, the immediate aim of Lockheed’s involvement with wireless in-flight recharging has little to do with our sparkling green future and more to do with creating an infinite-flight drone.

To that end, initial testing of the system was conducted on a Stalker UAS (unmanned aerial system), a small surveillance drone that first saw military use in 2006.

As relayed by LaserMotive President Tom Nugent, the laser power system was tested in a wind tunnel and extended the Stalker’s flight time to 48 hours, an improvement of about 2,400 percent.

The flight could have gone on longer but it was halted after the system passed its expected endurance limit, and the battery was found to have store more energy at the end of the test than it had in the beginning. The next step will be a field test outdoors.

Wireless Laser Charging: How it Works

LaserMotive’s system shares some basic characteristics with a solar power array. Instead of sunlight, a high intensity laser beam strikes the photovoltaic cells, which then convert the light to electricity.

The beam could travel to the PV cells through a vacuum or fiber optic cable as well as through plain air.

As for the electricity needed to create the laser beam, that could be generated by conventional fossil fuels or any other source including solar power as well as wind, geothermal, hydropower or any other renewable form of energy.

Among the benefits of wireless charging is the elimination of power lines and the practical elimination of a power transmission infrastructure.

Flexibility can be layered onto the system by designing transmitters to be mobile or transportable, too.

Image: Some rights reserved by DarbyG. Back offshore

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1iO8Q)

Wireless EV Charging Gets a $4 Million Charge from DOE

DOE funds $4 million for wireless EV charging systemsHappy days for electric vehicle owners are just around the corner: the U.S. Department of Energy is revving up wireless EV charging systems with a new round of $4 million in funding through its Vehicle Technologies Program. The initial goal is to get a wireless EV charging system for parked cars into the mass market within the next ten years, but DOE isn’t stopping there. Ultimately, the agency expects to accelerate the development of road-based wireless systems that will enable you to grab a charge while cruising down the highway.

The ripple effect of wireless EV charging

The immediate goal of the funding program is to raise the consumer attraction level of EV’s. Charging up an EV while parked at home or at a workplace is convenient enough but on the road the experience is pretty similar to gassing up: no matter what the weather, you have to get out of the car (unless you live in a no self-serve state). For most drivers, a wireless, hands-free charging system would mark a truly major difference between EV technology and conventional gasoline vehicles.

In terms of national energy and environmental policies, when coupled with the adoption of solar power and other forms of renewable energy more EV’s on the road will mean less reliance on fossil fuels, lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air for metro areas.

Wireless charging, especially road-integrated charging, also helps to reduce the need for bulky on-board energy storage equipment. That in turn will help manufacturers develop lighter, less expensive and more efficient vehicles with a smaller lifecycle footprint.

Closer than you think to wireless charging

Wireless charging is already in development for small devices, and last year GM announced that the Volt EV will be equipped with wireless charging capability for portable electronics.

Charging an entire vehicle without a plug and socket is a much taller order, but Hertz for one is already testing wireless EV charging in the U.S., and a wireless charging test has been under way in London for the past few months.

Grab-n-go EV charging

For a nation on the go, being able to “refuel” your car while cruising down the highway is a nifty piece of multitasking. Unfortunately that’s some time off in the future, but on the positive side a team of researchers at Stanford recently announced that they have found a workable path to nonstop wireless chargingbased on magnetic fields.

Under that system, depending on the length of the trip, the vehicle’s speed and road conditions you could begin a journey with less than a full charge, and reach your destination with more juice in the tank than when you started.

Aside from working out technological issues, the expense of embedding the system in roadways is a major obstacle, but cost-effectiveness could be enhanced by focusing the system on the most heavily traveled corridors and installing it in the course of routine road resurfacing projects.

Image: Courtesy of U.S. DOE

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/18WHt)