Today, charging an electric car requires a plug and an outlet. But in the future, charging an electric vehicle may require nothing more than driving and parking.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology IWES in Kassel, Germany, have developed a wireless charger system that not only recharges a battery but also feeds excess energy back into the electrical grid.
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The system involves two coils: one built into the road, parking space or garage and the other fitted to the underside of electric car.
With this system in place, energy can be transmitted without a plug and entirely through the air - or as researchers explain in more depth, "through a time-varying magnetic field."
The distance between the car coils and road coils can be up to 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) for the technology to work, but the closer the two coils are to one another, the more efficiently the energy is transferred, according to researchers.
"Even with an air gap of 20 centimeters, we achieve an efficiency of between 93 and 95 percent - and do so across the entire power range, from 400 watts to 3.6 kilowatts," René Marklein, project manager at Fraunhofer IWES, said in a press release.
"Comparable systems achieve that kind of efficiency only over shorter distances, which limits their usefulness for cars with larger ground clearance."
The system aims to provide several options to EV owners, rather than limiting their means for a recharge. It permits inductive charging, but also enables a one-phase and three-phase power connection so drivers can also use normal power outlets and charging stations, as they wish.
To be sure, other researchers are also participating in the race for more efficient charging. Scientists in the UK, for example, are developing electric highways to charge electric cars.
However, unlike other options, this coil system from Fraunhofer Institute can also discharge the electricity stored in a vehicle's battery and feed back into the grid to offset power surges.
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This technology is particularly cost-effective, since the team deliberately selected standard components already available on the mass market, as noted by Marco Jung, deputy head of the converter technology department at Fraunhofer IWES, in the company's press release.
The prototype will be unveiled at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt in mid-September.