While owning an electric car is pretty cool, one of the
biggest hassles is always remembering to plug it in. Plugging in a car in is not something that
comes naturally to most people so it is easy to forget. There is nothing worse
than coming out in the morning to a car that won’t run.
Industry experts feel that for electric cars to really take
off, wireless charging will have to become more commonplace. In order to fill
this hole, numerous companies are working on wireless charging for electric
vehicles. Just a few of the companies developing or testing these charging
stations include Delphi, Infiniti/Nissan, Qualcomm, Plugless Power, Rolls-Royce
and WiTricity. This type of technology lets drivers park above a pad in their
garage which then powers up the car.
These systems rely on electromagnetic induction. Using
radio-wave induction a varying electric current contained in a transmitter coil
of conducting wire in the road or pad produces a varying current in the
receiver coil that is in the car. The transmitted power recharges the battery.
Some of the proposals envision that the rechargers are installed directly in
Unfortunately, electromagnetic induction has some side effects
making it less than ideal. It can release stray radio waves as well as heat
nearby objects that are made of metal. These two issues could be responsible
for serious safety concerns, industry experts claim that there is no danger.
Recently, researchers at the University of British Columbia
in Vancouver have developed an alternative way to wirelessly charge electric
vehicles. They have been demonstrating it for over a year and claim that it is
reliable, safe and cheaper than other methods currently being developed.
Lorne Whitehead, the inventor says that the concept is
linked to his interest in recharging implanted medical devices. It incorporates
magneto-dynamic coupling. Basically, two rotating permanent magnets are separated
by 6 inches of air and their magnetic fields interact. The transmitter magnet
is located in the garage floor while the receiver magnet is in the car. A small
electric motor will turn the transmitter motor and the magnetic field causes
the receiver magnetic to turn which spins a small generator charging the car.
Tests have shown that this system is 90 percent efficient
when compared to a charging cable. Perfect alignment of the vehicle is not
necessary which means owners will not have to spend time trying to line up
their vehicle on the charging mat. The technology could be built into street
curbs in parking lots or ramps.
Four rechargers have been operating on campus for roughly a
year as a demonstration of the technology. It is used to charge campus vehicles
that are all electric. The demonstration has gotten lots of positive feedback
from campus staff. Whitehead is working on a patent and feels that it could be
licensed to manufacturers. He is also looking into other electric vehicles such
Some industry experts doubt that this system could be
viable. They claim it has too many moving parts and loses a lot of energy
efficiency in the various transitions. Many experts feel that automakers will
ultimately choose a different technology to charge their vehicles.
Wirelessly charging of electric vehicles is the future and
many manufacturers are developing technology that will help owners forgo
plugging their car in each night. Leading technologies incorporate
electromagnetic induction and magneto-dynamic coupling. It remains to be seen
which technology will dominate.