North Logan, Utah – Electric cars may one day charge themselves as they drive along the highway, according to researchers at Utah State University, who have demonstrated the first high-power, high-efficiency wireless transfer system capable of transferring enough energy to charge an electric vehicle.

The lightweight, low-profile system demonstrated 90 per cent electrical transfer efficiency of five kilowatts over an air gap of 10 inches (254 mm).

“This demonstration is an extraordinary and historic step in providing technologies to electric vehicle owners who will be able to pull their cars into garages at home and charge without having to plug in with cords,” said Jeff Muhs, director of the Energy Dynamics Laboratory (EDL). “Our scientists and engineers have proven that enough power can be transferred over large distances to safely and efficiently charge electric car batteries from a pad under the ground to a receiver attached to the undercarriage of a vehicle, and this is just the beginning.”

Based on the same theory that currently enables consumers to wirelessly charge toothbrushes and cell phones, EDL has expanded the technology to unprecedented levels and efficiencies. The researchers also demonstrated that the system is tolerant of lateral misalignment in any direction within approximately six inches (152 mm).

“In the not-so-distant future, we will see vehicles go from being charged by plugging into the electric grid, to wirelessly charging in garages, shopping centres and dedicated refuelling stations, to mass transit vehicles that are charged as they are in motion, and eventually wireless electric roadways where cars will travel at 75 mph (120 km/h) while being charged,” Muhs said. “Future versions of the system architecture developed at EDL have the unique potential to be embedded under pavement and transfer power wirelessly to vehicles at speeds of 75 mph or more and provide enough power to completely eliminate the ‘range anxiety’ of electric vehicles.”

The technology will be demonstrated for world industry leaders during the Conference on Electric Roads & Vehicles in Utah next February.

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