Revolutionary Wireless EV Charging Achieves 100 kW Speeds with Exceptional Efficiency

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Revolutionary Wireless EV Charging Achieves 100 kW Speeds with Exceptional Efficiency

Imagine effortlessly charging your electric vehicle (EV) by simply parking it, without the hassle of cables, payment systems, or apps. Just park and go. This concept is closer to reality thanks to advancements in wireless charging technology. A groundbreaking achievement has been made by a U.S. laboratory with a 96% efficiency rate in a 100kW wireless charging experiment.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, known for its pivotal role in atomic research during the 1940s and contributions to supercomputing, materials science, and energy storage, has now made strides in EV technology. The lab successfully charged a Hyundai Kona Electric using electromagnetic waves, achieving an impressive 96% efficiency.

This was accomplished through the use of innovative “polyphase electromagnetic coupling coils.” These coils enable a higher density transfer of energy compared to traditional methods, allowing for rapid charging speeds up to 100 kilowatts.

Reaching a 96% efficiency rate in wireless EV charging is a significant milestone. Electric vehicle (EV) powertrains already surpass internal combustion engines in efficiency, but the process of charging EVs has room for improvement, as it’s not completely lossless. For instance, charging an EV from empty to full often results in the consumption of more energy than the battery’s capacity, with the excess energy mostly lost as heat.

A specific example highlighted by Car and Driver involved a Tesla Model Y Performance, where charging its 81 kWh battery required 92.2 kWh of electricity, indicating roughly 14% energy loss. However, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) test showcased only about 6% charging loss, positioning wireless charging as potentially more efficient than traditional wired methods.

ORNL’s Omer Onar emphasized the breakthrough, stating, “We’ve achieved the highest power density in the world for a wireless charging system for this class of vehicle.” The research team managed to charge an EV efficiently with a five-inch gap between the vehicle and the charging system, thanks to newly developed coils that are not only lightweight but also facilitate a higher density of energy flow.

While questions regarding the cost, accessibility, and precise vehicle alignment over the coils remain, the prospects for efficient, widely available wireless charging are brighter than ever. Notably, several EV models in China, such as the Zhiji L7, Geely EC-8, and Changan CX30, already feature factory-installed wireless charging capabilities, indicating a shift towards this innovative charging method on a global scale.

Tesla has shown interest in wireless charging, acquiring and then quickly selling the German startup Wiferion, but retaining some of its engineers. In the U.S., Witricity is leading the charge with wireless stations in China for commercial fleets and has retrofitted a Ford Mustang Mach-E to demonstrate its capabilities.

Other U.S.-based pilot projects are testing the waters in cities like Brooklyn, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles. Innovations like the Chrysler Halcyon concept car and Ford’s patented in-road wireless charging technology also highlight the growing interest in making wireless charging a reality for EVs.

However, the adoption of this technology faces hurdles, such as the need for substantial investment and the current slowdown in EV sales, which might make manufacturers hesitant to embrace such a nascent technology fully. Despite these challenges, the ongoing pilot projects and the potential benefits of wireless charging suggest it may have a lasting impact, setting it apart from other fleeting tech trends.

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