Power up: Wireless charging could help revolutionise electric vehicles
Many city-dwellers don’t have a driveway, which makes running an electric vehicle (EV) a tricky proposition. A charging cable snaking across the pavement is an accident waiting to happen – assuming owners can get a parking space outside their homes.
The answer is to take the cable out of the equation with wireless charging, which uses the principle of magnetic induction to ‘jump’ electricity from a base station direct to the vehicle’s battery. A two-year pilot project has already begun in London with taxi firm Addison Lee and EV manufacturer Renault.
The charging technology being used is called Halo and has been developed by mobile innovations giant Qualcomm – the company responsible for processors powering the latest generation of smartphones and tablets. ‘EV drivers will opt for the simplicity of wireless charging because there’s no fuss from dirty cables that are difficult to handle in the cold and wet,’ says a Qualcomm spokesman.
Life has been given an exclusive demonstration of how Halo will work using a standard EV that has been modified to use the wireless system.
The testing car is the E4, designed and built by Delta Motorsport, which is based at Silverstone and counts Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin among its clients.
When the battery is fully charged, it has a 140-mile range, hits 60mph in around 6.5 seconds and has a top speed in excess of 100mph.
Impressive performances such as this are becoming the norm on EVs. Just last month, the British land speed record for an electric car was broken by the Nemesis – a re-engineered second-hand Lotus Exige bought on eBay – which hit 151mph at a canter.
The Delta E4’s interior is dominated by a centrally mounted touch-screen interface, slightly smaller than an iPad. It controls everything from the audio to the air conditioning and also oversees the charging procedure.
As the car approaches a Halo-enabled parking bay, it establishes a Bluetooth connection with the control unit and an alignment display switches from red to green to tell the driver when they’re in the right place. A ‘handshake’ process begins and, after a few seconds, the screen changes to confirm power is going into the battery. It’s that simple.
The system is currently configured to accept a domestic power supply, so it takes eight hours to charge a vehicle. However, with the development of a more advanced unit, that could come down to around 90 minutes.
Halo consists of a black pad, about the size and thickness of a newspaper. It’s positioned centrally in a parking bay and either laid flat on the tarmac or buried slightly beneath it. The electricity running through the pad creates a virtual bubble above it and as long as the receiver unit on the car is inside that perimeter, the battery will automatically power up.
Power up: The Renault Twizy could become one of the first electric vehicles to use wireless charging (Renault)
The benefits are multiple: the transfer is highly efficient, it works equally well with low-slung sports cars or high-riding off-roaders and they don’t even have to be particularly tidily parked.
Renault, which is supplying cars for the trial, has invested hugely in electric vehicles and is aiming to be the first mass-market manufacturer to offer a completely zero-emission model range. This includes cars such as its odd-looking urban runabout, the Twizy, already adopted by the French police.
Jacques Hebrard, Renault’s advanced projects director, says: ‘Our participation complements our European research project to demonstrate wireless induction charging of electric vehicles in a public environment with a high level of performance and safety.’
Stationary pads in parking bays aren’t the end of the story, though. The second phase would be an infrastructure that supports semi-dynamic charging, so it is active when a car isn’t moving at a junction or is in slow-moving traffic. That could see pads buried under taxi ranks and bus stations, working on the principle of little and often charging, akin to how you top up your mobile.
This also means battery packs could be smaller and lighter, improving the car’s fuel economy. Even that isn’t the end of the process. The ultimate deployment would be completely dynamic, with vehicles moving at motorway speeds and constantly charging. Needless to say, that’s work in progress – but an electrified M25 is a real possibility.
Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/tech/914430-could-wireless-charging-make-an-electrified-m25-a-real-possibility#ixzz29PFxHuzI