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Wireless Charging is Coming to an Electric Vehicle Near You

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 the road.

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 as forklifts.

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.