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Wireless charging: the key to unlocking an electric vehicle revolution

日期: 2016-05-20
浏览次数: 34

 

QQ截图20160531165845.png

Radical changes are coming to transportation.

 

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about three ongoing technological revolutions vehicle electrification, autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, and distributed energy — that are going to intersect in powerful ways.

 

Since then, I've become convinced that I should have included a fourth: wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC).

 

Getting rid of plugs and cables doesn't get nearly the hype of the other three trends, but it's a necessary precursor to unlocking their full potential. And it is a lot closer than most people realize.

 

Why we need wireless charging for electric vehicles

 

Consumers, most of whom are still fairly unfamiliar with electric vehicles, have certain anxieties about them.

 

One, so-called "range anxiety," is the worry that batteries won't carry them as far as they want to travel (or might want to travel one never knows).

 

The other is the hassle of plugging in the car every night. For people in apartments or condos, there may not be outlets. And even for people with garages, it's still kind of a pain in the ass. Pumping gas at gas stations is a pain, too, but at least it's only once every week or two.

 

Alex Gruzen, the CEO of the wireless charging tech company WiTricity, told me one automaker has done an internal survey of its plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) owners and discovered that 70 percent of them never plug in. They use the vehicles as ordinary hybrids, sacrificing an enormous amount of fuel economy (which they paid extra for!) just because nightly plugging in is a hassle.

 

(Gruzen can't reveal which automaker, so I can't confirm the survey, but this study and this one support the conclusion that PHEV owners plug in far less than would be optimal.)

 

(Shutterstock)

Maybe not so simple after all.

EV manufacturers know about these anxieties, which is why all of them are working to extend range and all of them are working toward wireless charging.

 

So WEVC is going to ease consumer anxieties and accelerate EV adoption. It's also going to be a boon to public transit. And it's going to serve as a key enabler of self-driving vehicles and vehicle fleets. We'll get to all that in a minute.

 

First, a quick tech primer.

 

The wireless charging tech involved in EV charging (so far)

 

One key technology is pushing WEVC toward broad adoption.

 

Today, most commercially available consumer device chargers, like all those toothbrush or cellphone charging pads, use inductive coupling: One coil of wire (the transmitter) converts electricity into a magnetic field, and another (the receiver) converts it back into electricity. The magnetic field is omnidirectional it's not aimed or directed so the receiver has to be quite close to the transmitter to pick up much power.

 

A recent advance in induction is known as magnetic resonance, in which the transmitter and receiver are "strongly coupled," tuned to the same frequency, which allows the magnetic field to be directed, increasing the distance it can travel and the end-to-end efficiency of the process. Magnetic resonance was demonstrated by a team at MIT in 2007 (the team that went on to found WiTricity).

 

Think of them as wireless charging 1.0 and 2.0. The first magnetic resonance products, including laptop chargers, will hit the market later this year.

 

The advantage of magnetic resonance is mainly convenience: The transmitter and receiver can couple at any orientation and at greater distances, so the device doesn't have to be quite so precisely positioned over the charging pad.

 

It's also incredibly efficient. The larger coils in EV chargers, operating at higher frequencies, attain end-to-end efficiency of 90 percent or even a little higher, roughly equivalent to the efficiency of a plugged connection.

 

Note: Many stories on EV chargers still use lazily use "induction," but they're usually referring to magnetic resonance.

 

plug-in-car.jpg

(Shutterstock)

Maybe not so simple after all.

EV manufacturers know about these anxieties, which is why all of them are working to extend range and all of them are working toward wireless charging.

 

So WEVC is going to ease consumer anxieties and accelerate EV adoption. It's also going to be a boon to public transit. And it's going to serve as a key enabler of self-driving vehicles and vehicle fleets. We'll get to all that in a minute.

 

First, a quick tech primer.

 

The wireless charging tech involved in EV charging (so far)

 

One key technology is pushing WEVC toward broad adoption.

 

Today, most commercially available consumer device chargers, like all those toothbrush or cellphone charging pads, use inductive coupling: One coil of wire (the transmitter) converts electricity into a magnetic field, and another (the receiver) converts it back into electricity. The magnetic field is omnidirectional it's not aimed or directed so the receiver has to be quite close to the transmitter to pick up much power.

 

A recent advance in induction is known as magnetic resonance, in which the transmitter and receiver are "strongly coupled," tuned to the same frequency, which allows the magnetic field to be directed, increasing the distance it can travel and the end-to-end efficiency of the process. Magnetic resonance was demonstrated by a team at MIT in 2007 (the team that went on to found WiTricity).

 

Think of them as wireless charging 1.0 and 2.0. The first magnetic resonance products, including laptop chargers, will hit the market later this year.

 

The advantage of magnetic resonance is mainly convenience: The transmitter and receiver can couple at any orientation and at greater distances, so the device doesn't have to be quite so precisely positioned over the charging pad.

 

It's also incredibly efficient. The larger coils in EV chargers, operating at higher frequencies, attain end-to-end efficiency of 90 percent or even a little higher, roughly equivalent to the efficiency of a plugged connection.

 

Note: Many stories on EV chargers still use lazily use "induction," but they're usually referring to magnetic resonance.

witricity-wevc-diagram.jpg

(WiTricity)

How magnetic resonance charging works.

There are other wireless techs that might enter the EV space sometime microwaves, in particular but they are more speculative. It's magnetic resonance that's going to have an impact in the next few years.

 

(For more background on wireless charging the science, the technologies involved, the companies trying to commercialize in the consumer device market check out this earlier post.)

 

Wireless charging will boost consumer EV adoption

 

EV owners who don't want to plug their car in every night currently have only one option, the only WEVC product on the market today: Plugless, by Virginia-based Evatran.

 

Quote From:Vox

 

 

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