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New wireless power technology could revolutionize highway transportation

Washington, Thu, 02 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb 1 (ANI): Researchers have designed a technology that uses magnetic fields to wirelessly charge electric vehicles cruising at highway speeds.


A Stanford University research team has developed a high-efficiency charging system that uses magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit large electric currents between metal coils placed several feet apart.


The long-term goal of the research is to develop an all-electric highway that wirelessly charges cars and trucks as they cruise down the road.


The new technology has the potential to dramatically increase the driving range of electric vehicles and eventually transform highway travel, according to the researchers.


"Our vision is that you'll be able to drive onto any highway and charge your car," said Shanhui Fan, an associate professor of electrical engineering.


"Large-scale deployment would involve revamping the entire highway system and could even have applications beyond transportation."


A wireless charging system would address a major drawback of plug-in electric cars - their limited driving range. The all-electric Nissan Leaf, for example, gets less than 100 miles on a single charge, and the battery takes several hours to fully recharge.


A charge-as-you-drive system would overcome these limitations.


"What makes this concept exciting is that you could potentially drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to recharge," said APL study co-author Richard Sassoon, the managing director of the Stanford Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), which funded the research.


"You could actually have more energy stored in your battery at the end of your trip than you started with."


The wireless power transfer is based on a technology called magnetic resonance coupling. Two copper coils are tuned to resonate at the same natural frequency - like two wine glasses that vibrate when a specific note is sung.


The coils are placed a few feet apart. One coil is connected to an electric current, which generates a magnetic field that causes the second coil to resonate.


This magnetic resonance results in the invisible transfer of electric energy through the air from the first coil to the receiving coil.


"Wireless power transfer will only occur if the two resonators are in tune," Fan noted.


"Objects tuned at different frequencies will not be affected," Fan added.


The study has been published in the journal Applied Physics Letters (APL). (ANI)


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