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Highways to wirelessly charge electric cars?

Posted: 03 Feb 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electric vehicles  wireless charging 

Researchers at Stanford University have designed a new technology that could lead to wireless charging of electric vehicles while they cruise down the highway. The high-efficiency charging system uses magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit large electric currents between metal coils placed several feet apart, explained the researchers.

"The new technology has the potential to dramatically increase the driving range of electric vehicles and eventually transform highway travel," the researchers said.

"The long-term goal of the research is to develop an all-electric highway that wirelessly charges cars and trucks as they cruise down the road."

"Our vision is that you'll be able to drive onto any highway and charge your car," said Shanhui Fan, an associate professor of electrical engineering. "Large-scale deployment would involve revamping the entire highway system and could even have applications beyond transportation."

The wireless power transfer is based on a technology called magnetic resonance coupling. Two copper coils are tuned to resonate at the same natural frequency. The coils are placed a few feet apart. One coil is connected to an electric current, which generates a magnetic field that causes the second coil to resonate. This magnetic resonance results in the invisible transfer of electric energy through the air from the first coil to the receiving coil.

"Wireless power transfer will only occur if the two resonators are in tune," Fan noted. "Objects tuned at different frequencies will not be affected."

Researchers have filed a patent application for their wireless system. The next step is to test it in the laboratory and eventually try it out in real driving conditions.

"We need to determine very early on that no harm is done to people, animals, the electronics of the car or to credit cards in your wallet," said Sven Beiker, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS).





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