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Industry cuts the cord on electric car charging

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 22, 2013
Major stumbling blocks to wireless charging -- power loss and slow recharging time -- need to be worked out

Qualcomm's Halo pads would charge a car as long as a driver pulls to within eight or nine inches of the charging pad. An indicator on the vehicle's dashboard signals when the charger is engaged.

Along with Qualcomm, Delphi and Siemens are in partnerships to develop inductive charging technology, including mats that can be placed in garages or parking spaces.

Siemens estimates the installation cost of both the charging mat and in-vehicle charging coil would run about $2,000, about twice the cost of a corded charger.

How wireless charging works (Image: WiTriCity)

Competing standards
As with any nascent industry, there are competing standards and their consortiums.

Currently, the wireless charging industry is divided into three standardization camps, each headed by market leaders competing for dominance.

Qualcomm and Samsung, for example, are founders of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), which competes with the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). Companies, however, are hedging their bets and are sometimes members of one alliance while still using technology from another. For example, the WPC supports the widely adopted Qi (pronounced "chee") standard used in Nokia, Samsung and LG products.

There are two forms of wireless charging: magnetic induction, which is the most prominent, and magnetic resonance.

Both charging techniques use the same basic technology. Alternating current in a transmitter coil generates a magnetic field, which induces a voltage in the receiver coil.

Magnetic induction charging techniques, however, require that the device being charged is in contact with a charging surface, such as a charging pad. That leads to greater power transfer efficiency. The leading charging pad supplier has been Duracell's Powermat technology.

Magnetic resonance charging, like WiTricity's or HEVO's, allows an enabled device to be placed up to several feet away from a power source for charging. However, the closer the receiver and transmission coils are to each other, the better the charging efficiency.

WiTricity has created more than a half-dozen prototypes for its wireless charging technology. The tech can be used to charge smartphones, TVs, entire rooms of equipment and even electric cars at relatively long distances.

 

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