Scientists Build New Method to Deliver Electricity Wirelessly

road traffic at night

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Wireless charging with smartphones is already well-accepted and popular. Now, imagine delivering electricity wirelessly over greater distances to moving objects, such as cars. 

Picture this – you are cruising down the highway in the electric car and you run out of fuel. A newly developed technology from a team at Stanford University can come to your aid. The team has worked on transmitting electricity to a nearby moving object. Their results are also published in a recent edition of Nature.

Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the study stated that in addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cell phones, their technology could untether robotics in manufacturing, which also is on the move. The author reiterated that they still needed to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars. He had confirmed that he didn’t think that was a serious roadblock.

Wireless electricity transfer depends on generating oscillating magnetic fields that can cause electrons in a conductor to oscillate at a specific frequency. While such frequencies can get easily messed up if the device is moving, it naturally works better with stationary targets.

The Stanford researcher team built on existing technology that was developed in 2007 at MIT for transmitting electricity wirelessly. The team achieved around 10 percent of the transmission of the power moving through the system at that stage. Now, they are working on increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred. The team may also tweak the system to improve efficiency and to extend the transfer distance. The team has achieved up to 92 percent efficiency. 

An electric car would need hundreds of kilowatts to charge it. The new system currently outlined is fast enough to provide it, if it were built into the road surface. The limitation stands as to how quickly the car’s batteries could absorb the power as the vehicle sped past.

Some of the other potential uses are with robots that can be charged up by pads in the floor of the environments they’re operating in, or with drones that can pass over roof surfaces during their journeys to stay charged up.

The team stated in their published paper that to harness the full benefits of wireless power delivery, it was important to develop an efficient and robust scheme that would be capable of power delivery to a moving device. In conclusion, the ability to beam electricity wirelessly and to beam it to a moving device could eventually revolutionize the way we travel and the way our gadgets work.

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