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Researchers developing roads that charge your electric car while you're driving

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 28, 2015
Clemson University is working on its first trials of dynamic wireless charging on roadways.

Taiber, also the chief technology officer at the International Transportation Innovation Center, a 559-acre test bed in Greenville, said ICAR is planning to test the in-motion wireless charging with DSRC technology later this fall.

ICAR's first test of its wireless charging station demonstrated power transfer systems integrated into two different Toyota vehicle models. One of the vehicles was tested at a power transfer rate of 6.9 kilowatts and achieved an overall efficiency of greater than 85%.

Because of the high efficiency of the system, the difference in charge times between a wired charging system and a wireless charging system is "minor," Taiber said.

The idea behind dynamic wireless charging is to create a series of embedded highway stations that can incrementally recharge electric vehicles carrying mobile receivers as the vehicles drive by.

In the U.K., the government is expected to perform off-road trials of dynamic wireless charging that it acquired from researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU).

ncsu wireless transfer device 759x500 
A small prototype charger from North Carolina State University is shown that can transmit power wirelessly from a stationary source to a mobile receiver. The goal is to create highway "stations" that can recharge electric vehicles wirelessly as the vehicles drive past. Credit: Srdjan Lukic, North Carolina State University

The NCSU research suggests that vehicles driving on roadways with dynamic wireless charging stations could increase their driving range anywhere from 62 miles to about 310 miles.

"Currently, at peak efficiency, the new system can transmit energy at a rate of 0.5 kilowatts (kW). "Our goal is to move from 0.5 kW into the 50 kW range," Srdjan Lukic, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the research, told

"That would make it more practical," Lukic added.

The U.S. wireless power transfer projects started in 2013 after the DOE created an $8.1 million grant for the research. The ORNL subcontracted with Clemson to develop the highway grid-side and vehicle-side communication system for wireless charging.

Taiber said the effectiveness of in-motion wireless charging depends on several things, including a vehicle's battery technology and how much energy it can absorb.

The research project will also test the use of ultracapacitors in cars that can store energy in an electric field, rather than in a chemical reaction, and then transfer it to the vehicle battery as needed.

"The power level we designed it for is up to 250 kilowatts. So you can push a lot of power through. Obviously, how much power [the vehicle] can absorb depends on the speed of the car," Taiber said.


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