Right now electric vehicles are not up to par when it comes to driving range compared with traditional gas-powered vehicles. But a breakthrough in wireless in-road charging technology could deliver an electric charge as you make your way down the road, in theory giving your EV “unlimited” range.
Utah State University researchers have managed to wirelessly transmit five kilowatts of electricity across a ten-inch gap with a 90% efficiency rate. Inductive charging, as it is known, has been around for decades though the short transmission range has meant its applications are very limited. So transferring that much energy across such a wide space is quite the accomplishment. Lately, wireless charging is becoming more commonplace with smartphones and iPods, but it isn’t applicable to cars yet as there is a substantial gap between battery and would-be charger, nevermind all the energy needed to charge a car versus a phone.
The ability the transmit 5 kilowatts of electricity across such a wide gap is incredible, and with a 90% efficiency rate to boot. All of the sudden the idea of wirelessly charging EV’s while they drive down the highway seems not only feasible, but downright economical. Imagine being able to drive from one side of the country to the other on an electric highway, never having to stop and refill your EV? Another added bonus would be the ability of automakers to shrink the size of battery packs, lowering the cost of these EV’s significantly.
Sounds like science fiction, but every day it seems more and more plausible. Combine wireless charging technology solar-powered roadways, and we can start putting together a picture of the green highways of the future.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.