Researchers Make Wireless In-Road EV Charging Breakthrough


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.

Source: Deseret News via AutoBlogGreen | Image: Jay Dortzbach/Deseret News

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.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • sounds great but if the tea party has its way we’ll be driving horses with buggies on square stone wheels.

    • ziv

      I am just shaking my head in stupefaction. The Tea Party starts us on our long and painful journey out of the land of debt denial, and Gmam sees them everywhere, even on! LOL
      Dude, I will keep it simple for you. We don’t have the money.
      Our debt is growing too fast and our demographics are the worst they have ever been, we simply have too many retirees and too few workers.
      And the Tea Party accomplished what with this bill? What huge cut in spending over the next two years? Well, our spending will actually increase, but next year it will increase 0.5% less than the baseline, and the year after that it will increase 0.25% less than the baseline.

      • Gmam

        I see I’ll have the grape flavored kool aid brother. Kidding . Check out who financially backs your “grass roots” movement and Ironically its the same people who have all the money and pay next to nothing in taxes. The powers that be would rather u tighten your belt than give up their precious bush era tax cuts. Dude we wouldn’t be in this mess if the rich paid their fair share. Job creators? B.s.

        • ziv

          Jealousy and class hatred make for a weak arguement, G. Attacking Tea Partiers doesn’t change the fact that you can’t do anything about the fact that we have a huge problem that we need to deal with, our Baby Boomers are getting old and if we don’t find a way to cut Medicare and Social Security costs, it will bankrupt the country. The problem with socialism/liberalism is that eventually they run out of other peoples money, and that is the crux of the matter. We have to get more efficient before we increase the taxes, or the increases will be pi**ed away.
          The top 1% of wage earners pay more than 37% of all income taxes, and the top 10% pay more than 69%. Those of us in the middle quintiles have to pay more or the system simply will not work.
          But it is a lot easier to blame the rich, no?
          Fair share? LOL
          Grow up and get out of your parents basement. If you had a real job you wouldn’t be so jealous of people that are successful.

          • I don’t know wether to laugh, cry or patronize I think I’ll choose the latter. I live and am gainfully employed full time on the books in a little state of new york. 30 percent of my paycheck is dedicated to taxes I know of which I speak. I have no hatred toward the rich as I believe social mobility is what makes this country great and if I were to ever acrue wealth I wouldn’t want to be taxed into the ground either. Yes we have big bills we can’t pay but America has been in debt since it’s inception. All I’m suggesting is that the rich pay more which contributed to past economic expanses and we stop policing a world that doesn’t want to be policed rather than cut grandmas pill money and grocery money off first.

          • ziv

            I admit that I was a bit too vituperative on my last post. But I will admit to it while admitting that one aspect of your post frightens me. The attribution of the problem to ‘them’. The rich aren’t ‘them’ to me, rich is what I hope to be. Probably won’t be, but it is a mild aspiration.
            Once we categorize a problem as being due to ‘them’ in part or in whole, we are well on our way to demonizing the ‘them’.
            America is great in large part due to the fact that our rich class is in flux generation to generation. And one of the drivers of our originality and productivity is the fact that we know that if we are smart and lucky, and the chips fall right, we can be ‘them’, the rich guy on the street. If we put in place tax policies that make getting rich more difficult in times as bad as this demographically, we risk ending a system that encouraged risk taking and hard work.
            The American Dream isn’t written in stone, it can fall apart. And class warfare is the surest way to tear that dream down.

          • I will not comment on your idea of a just society. But there’s something I must say to you…
            “The top 1% of wage earners pay more than 37% of all income taxes, and the top 10% pay more than 69%.” This doesn’t mean that the rich pay there part…We need to take into account how much money they actually made…

  • Why not ‘float’ the intake coil closer to the road surface?

    If you hinged the receiver on the forward side and put a small diameter wheel on the rear or in the center of the unit could ride close to ground.

    It wouldn’t take much ‘smart’s for look-ahead radar to signal the need to retract the unit back to a safe position. Just let it down when there is power available, that way it would be safely stored on gravel driveways/whatever.

    But what the solution will probably be is affordable batteries and at least 200 mile ranges. That along with some Level 3 chargers between cities would be enough and a lot less expensive than thousands of miles of induction lines.

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  • I agree that cheap and quickly rechargeable batteries are the way to go. This induction thing would be great in parking lots, not highways (too expensive).

    • I like the parking lot idea. How about charging up as you pull through the drive-through at Wendy’s? If you like Wendy’s…

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  • william edwards

    Like the idea, but how many miles of this would we need when a car is flying down the road at 70 MPH (US)???

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