Researchers at the Cornell university are evolving a new technology that is revolutionary for the EV market. At the moment, we have numerous problems with EVs, one of which is charging. So, will this new technology for EV charging overcome one of the many hurdles for electric transportation?
What Is The Issue For Charging?
Presently, one of the issues faced by governments all over the world is the conversion towards electric-powered vehicles. At the core of this issue is the lack of charging stations and the long times to charge the EV.
All over the world, charging stations are not enough to charge vehicles, to cover a long distance. Moreover, depending on the type of charger and on the capacity of the battery, it takes almost 15 to 10 minutes to charge the vehicles to get 100 miles.
Learn more about the problems of charging EVs here. Lack Of Charging Stations – The Hurdle For EVs
What Is It About The New Technology?
Researchers from the Cornell University have worked out a solution for electric vehicles. Their solution will overcome the hurdle of battery range and charging availability. Their solution is to incorporate charging into an on-the-go facility. Khurram Afridi, an associate professor for electrical and computer engineering at Cornell is the head of this research.
Their solution to these problems is to charge EVs when they are in motion, eliminating the need to stop and charge the vehicle. Mr. Afridi has been on the project for the past 7 years to make up wireless charging that can be installed into the existing US road system.
“Highways would have a charging lane, sort of like a high occupancy lane…If you were running out of battery you would move into the charging lane. It would be able to identify which car went into the lane and it would later send you a bill”, said Mr. Afridi.
When To Expect Wireless Charging for EV?
The new tech might take about 5 to 10 years to be installed into major roadways. Mr. Afridi speculates that wireless charging is the best way to overcome the fears that drivers have regarding finding charging stations and battery life.
Presently there are about 1.8 million battery-powered cars on US roads. Contrastingly, there are only 100,000 charging plugs for these cars. In these 100,000 plugs, only 41,000 are available to the public, the rest being private. As per the Biden Administration which plans to build 500,000 more plugs for electric vehicles.
This hurdle should be crossed at the earliest possible, as a recent study from the University of California Davis shows that 1 in 5 electric car owners switched back to gas-powered vehicles because of the lack of charging stations and the long times taken to charge an EV. Info from JD Power also reveals that the limited battery range of the cars is one of the primary reasons why people are not converting to EVs.
Mr. Afridi commented saying, “The only way people are going to buy electric cars is if they’re just as easy to refuel as combustion engines… If we had this [wireless charging] technology the electric vehicles would have even fewer limitations than traditional ones”.
To be said, wireless charging is not an all-new invention. Nikola Tesla was the first to invent the concept of wireless charging and related tech with his Tesla coil. The tesla coil can light up bulbs and provide electricity to appliances, granted, it depended on the current passing through the primary and secondary coils.
In Afridi’s plan, special metal plates can transmit and receive electric energy. These metal plates would play a major role in this wireless charging process. These plates will be connected to a powerline and high-frequency inverter.
The alternating electric fields will create a magnetic field, due to electromagnetic induction. This magnetic field will attract and repel the metal plates attached to the bottom of an EV.
A real-life test also did occur back in 1986, California tested wireless charging for cars for PATH, Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways. Recently, major smartphone manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung have also pushed for wireless charging.
The Hurdles To This Solution
According to Mr. Aldridi,” Wireless charging has failed to take off because tech companies have been focusing on magnetic fields, instead of electric ones. Alternating magnetic fields require bulky, expensive hardware and use more energy than they provide”.
Also according to Mr. Afridi, “Charging via electric fields has been mostly overlooked due to the high frequencies it would require and magnetic fields are also easier to generate”. The professor has been interested in pushing technologies to their edge, which is evident from his work from his time in JPL of NASA in 1987.
“They thought it was not feasible because they did not think of going to the high level of frequencies that I was thinking of… But, that has always been my area of research. It is really my passion to go to very high frequencies and push the technology to its highest potential frequency”, said Mr. Afridi.
The biggest roadblock for this project is finding and manufacturing the components of the design. These parts would have to conduct high levels of electricity. As per estimations, smaller EVs like the Nissan Leaf might just take 4 to 5 hours, whereas a bigger EV, like one of the Tesla Models, might take a lot more time to charge.
The installation of this wireless charging system will be a long and tedious process for sure. Not to mention the overhaul of the existing highways. Mr. Afridi did say that an approach would be to electrify busy highways and major cities first.
If charging for EVs is made more fluid, and more accessible, it will be a boost for the EV sector. This solution might even help the world to transfer EVs and related items. But, we will have to wait and see what the future might hold for us.