Charging your EV on the GO…
Does the future hold possibilities for charging your EV dynamically during the drive?
You are heading out for an important official meeting and you realize that your smartphone battery is dead! The first thought which would strike you is to recharge your phone during your drive to the meeting. All the cars today are equipped with a mobile charging point that helps you do that.
Now, let us imagine another hypothetical situation: You are a proud owner of an electric vehicle(EV) and you had forgotten to plug in your car to the charger, the previous night. You do not have time to recharge your car before you head out. What do you do? I can imagine that you would choose to use your partner’s car or use another mode of transport to get to your destination. How we wish if there was a solution to charge your car during your drive!
Karen Madej In your opinion, would you consider this a realistic situatuon or scenario?
Most of us would be familiar with the wired charging of EVs. In wired charging, the EV will be plugged on to a charging point very similar to our smartphones. As a first step, let us get rid of the wire. In wireless (static) charging, an EV will have to position itself above the charging point. Wireless charging is made possible by the principle of electromagnetic induction: Changing electrical field induces a changing magnetic field in a conductor and vice versa. Companies like WiTricity is working on wireless charging solution.
This solution already solves the problem of forgetting the car to be plugged into the charging point. Parking the EV at the right spot cannot be forgotten!
Dynamic Wireless Charging
One of the challenges faced by EVs is their range: the farthest distance an EV can go on a single charge. Technology that could assist in overcoming this challenge is dynamic wireless charging, designed to charge an EV on the drive. The objective of ongoing research engineers is to reduce the battery size but extend the range of EVs.
This technology requires the electrification of roads and the implementation of dynamic charging modules into EVs. Series of charging coils need to be integrated into the roads to enable this. The charging modules inside EVs need to comply with safety standards ensuring that the people inside the vehicle are exposed only to non-ionizing radiation. It can be highly appealing for product manufacturing companies if static charging modules can be also used for dynamic charging.
Qualcomm is one of the front runners in developing and testing this technology. One of their recent demonstrations tested charging an EV dynamically up to 20kW at speeds of 100 km/h. Ongoing research is also focusing on the implementation of this technology on all modes of transport like city buses, trams, and cars. The efficiency of charging modules is around 85% which has a lot of room for improvement.
Integration of renewables
Commercial dynamic charging projects look more promising when the power source is renewable energy sources like solar or wind. Solar panels are more fitting for this purpose because they can be integrated into highway walls easily. Sound-absorbing walls on highways can be converted to solar energy-absorbing walls! Distributed storage solutions also will be required to compensate for the erratic behavior of renewable energy sources. Existing highway transformer houses can be converted to new age converter stations. The converter stations will house storage and DC/AC converter modules for dynamic charging.
We need to wait and watch on the performance of dynamic charging in adverse weather conditions like heavy rainfall, wind, and tropical hot conditions. Outside the technological challenges, administrative issues like consumer billing, vandalism, asset management needs to be resolved. Static wireless charging still needs double the investment compared to wired charging. Dynamic charging requires huge infrastructural investments and policy changes from governments.
Despite the downsides, dynamic wireless technology is highly promising as it can lay the foundation for autonomous vehicle technology. The range limitations of EVs can be tackled with dynamic charging along the highways. It is going to take the joint effort of EV manufacturers, OEM suppliers, and policymakers to get to the finish line of the envisioned future.
There are reports of European governments seriously considering dynamic wireless charging in their future infrastructure roadmap. Steve LeVine, How would you evaluate the outlook of dynamic EV charging in the USA?