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Wireless Charging Seen As The Future Of Electric Cars

The development of wireless charging for electric automobiles is as important as wireless internet has been for computers and smart-phones.  Green automakers see it as imperative for the future of electric cars – and the U.S. government is in agreement.  Wireless charging technology is expected to translate the somewhat tepid public enthusiasm for electric vehicles into popular, widespread use.

The Department of Energy has pledged its commitment to the technology by committing as much as $12million in grant monies towards developing the ability to charge electric vehicles remotely in a way that’s feasible for widespread production throughout the U.S.  Applicants for the grants will be tasked with developing and refining wireless charging technology, as well as applying it to a light duty electric vehicle and demonstrating its performance in a fleet of vehicles over a period of three years.

The technology is called static and quasi-dynamic charging and utilizes magnetic resonance coupling, which allows electric currents to be wirelessly transmitted between metal coils.  The ultimate application of the technology would be its incorporation into electric highways and roads that would automatically charge vehicles as they travel.  Until then, static wireless charging means that drivers can park their vehicle near a charging station and charge their battery remotely.  

According the Journal of Applied Physics, the technology would be able to transfer around 10kW of electricity to a coil at a distance of 6.5ft with efficiency of up to 97 per cent. Resonant coupling wireless transfer uses two copper coils that are tuned to resonate at the same frequency. One coil is connected to an electric current and generates a magnetic field that resonates with the second unplugged coil.  The result is an energy transfer through the air from the plugged-in coil to the unplugged coil.

The Department of Energy says that although widespread wireless charging faces a number of challenges in development, it’s a worthy goal for the future of electric powered vehicles.