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Funding winners will be announced this summer

There are many things keeping electric vehicles from entering the mainstream market today. Chief among those is limited driving range, high cost compared to a traditional vehicle, and hassles from having to plug the car in to charge at home and on the go. Electric vehicles will certainly get cheaper over the years as the technology matures, and battery breakthroughs will lengthen the driving range.
 
Now, the U.S. Energy Department is offering up to $4 million to develop wireless chargers for electric vehicles to address concerns with having to plug the vehicle for power. The goal is to develop wireless technology that would transfer power from the electric grid to the vehicle battery packs without the driver having to plug-in. The ability to simply pull into the garage or parking space and have your car automatically recharge would be a huge improvement over systems in place today.
 
The $4 million in funding is being made available through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Program. The program believes that by offering wireless charging technology, consumers will be more likely to purchase electric vehicles. The hope is to accelerate the development of wireless charging solutions in the near-term with the funding opportunity.
 
The Energy Department wants to select as many as four projects for research and development and wireless charging systems that can be integrated into a production vehicle and tested in the real world. The department hopes vehicles using this technology could be on the roads within this decade. Four million dollars doesn't sound like a lot of funding for as many as four projects.
 
The selections for funding are expected to be announced this summer. The charger will be aimed at operators of light duty electric vehicles primarily focusing on static and possibly quasi-dynamic charging. The program deadline for letters of intent is April 25 with a full application submission deadline set at May 31 of this year.

Source: Energy.gov



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...really?
By Motoman on 4/12/2012 10:23:44 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
The ability to simply pull into the garage or parking space and have your car automatically recharge would be a huge improvement over systems in place today.


Would it really? Because, you know, gas goes automatically into your gas tank at the gas station.

Are we to believe that people can manage to physically pump gas into their cars, having made a special stop just to do so, but somehow it's just unbearable to plug your car in at night in the garage you were going to park in anyway?

How about we not mess with this an awful lot, and save ourselves the wasted electricity that physics pretty much dictates has to happen when you're using this kind of field induction charging.




RE: ...really?
By bobsmith1492 on 4/12/2012 10:30:50 AM , Rating: 4
Never underestimate laziness...


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/12/2012 2:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just laziness. Forgetfulness is the bigger factor, IMO.

10% loss amounts to maybe $30/year. If I go to my garage just one or two mornings out of the year and realize that I forgot to plug my car, the inconvenience would be irritating enough that I'd pay $100 to avoid it.

It really shouldn't cost much. My research involves wireless power, and the electronics are exceedingly simple. That's probably why this grant is only $4M.


RE: ...really?
By Solandri on 4/12/2012 2:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, forgetfulness is the main reason.

If you forget to put gas in your car, you can just pull into the nearest gas station next time you drive.

If you forget to charge your EV, you're stuck at home for a few hours the next morning, unable to get to work.

Forgetting to refuel/recharge has a much greater negative impact on the EV. Thus it warrants more money spent on an automated solution.


RE: ...really?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2012 2:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you forget to charge your EV, you're stuck at home for a few hours the next morning, unable to get to work.


Which is why, unless you're a moron, you'll wait and buy an EV when charging times aren't an issue.

quote:
Forgetting to refuel/recharge has a much greater negative impact on the EV. Thus it warrants more money spent on an automated solution.


Trading slightly more convenience for horrible efficiency seems to counter the point of EV's in the first place, doesn't it?

But I guess you don't have to care as much about efficiency when the entire platform, from vehicle to charging equipment to electric rates, are highly subsidized.


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/12/2012 4:59:15 PM , Rating: 3
The point of EVs is to replace oil with a domestic energy source and move emissions away from urban centers.

10% less efficiency has no impact on those goals. The charging is done at times of lowest demand, anyway.

Personally, I think pure EVs are a niche solution, as PHEV is the answer. There, if you forget, you can just run on gas. You can also go on a road trip and aren't tethered to being within X miles from your home. So you don't have to be moron to get one of those...


RE: ...really?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/12, Rating: -1
RE: ...really?
By Paj on 4/13/2012 7:30:41 AM , Rating: 2
What do you define as a pollutant? More importantly, when does a previously benign chemical become dangerous, and to who?


RE: ...really?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/13/2012 11:27:06 AM , Rating: 1
CO2 has played an enormous role in the development and sustaining of life on Earth. Of course it's not a goddamn pollutant. And if it WAS, why did the EPA wait until Obama gets in office to suddenly discover this "pollutant"? Give me a break, that was 100% political and part of this Administrations agenda.


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/13/2012 10:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
I couldn't care less whether you think that was some speech. That's their purpose. If they didn't have those attributes, then nobody would bother with EVs.

Stop with this coal nonsense. If you put a million EVs on the road tomorrow, you wouldn't get an ounce more coal burnt, as all new energy will be coming from natural gas (and wind). It's now the cheapest source of energy. They also charge primarily at night, when demand is lowest.

Of course cars still pollute, and no, I'm not talking about CO2. I know push mowers are bad, but you don't have two per household running for 10k miles a year. It's much better than it was in the 50's or 70's, but it's still bad enough for medical associations to pin thousands of deaths per year on air pollution and even more cases of respiratory ailments.


RE: ...really?
By JediJeb on 4/12/2012 6:49:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The point of EVs is to replace oil with a domestic energy source and move emissions away from urban centers.


Yup, in the future they will be building more power plants out in the rural areas where people like me live to stay away from all that pollution and industrialization. Gee thanks all you Greenies :P


RE: ...really?
By bjacobson on 4/12/2012 2:27:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If I go to my garage just one or two mornings out of the year and realize that I forgot to plug my car, the inconvenience would be irritating enough that I'd pay $100 to avoid it.


it's going to cost at least 10 times this.


RE: ...really?
By Schrag4 on 4/12/2012 4:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
...and that's just for the one-time cost to install a charging station. What about the added electricity costs due to losses? Are people who switch to an EV to save money on fuel really willing to increase their electricity consumption 25 or 50 percent for this convenience? I don't know what the actual losses will be, but I bet 25 percent isn't high...


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/12/2012 5:04:10 PM , Rating: 2
90% is perfectly doable with wireless transfer for the geometries involved. I've done it myself in my research on biomedical implants. As I mentioned above, $30/yr is the price of the efficiency loss: 10k miles / 3.3 miles/kWh * $0.10/kWh = $30. Adjust it to $40 or $50 if you want with different assumptions.


RE: ...really?
By Motoman on 4/14/2012 1:30:46 PM , Rating: 2
90% effeciency would be a catastrophe.

How many EV cars do you want to sell?

Let's say 1 million of them get sold to drivers in NYC.

Let's go with the low end of your estimate, and guess that $30 is lost per car per year.

There's $30 million in utterly wasted electricity per year, in one city. Electricity that was generated, transmitted, came to your house, and which you then threw away because you're too GD lazy to plug your car in.

Yeah. Great reasoning there.


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/16/2012 8:46:44 AM , Rating: 2
Why stop at that convenience? Why not outlaw dryers? People could use clothes lines. Why not outlaw 70 degree heating/ac? Un the winter, people could just wear jackets indoors and lower it to 60 degrees, while letting get to 80 degrees in the summer.

Those million EVs will cost $30B+ to build, and divert $1B/year in gas usage. If buyers want to spend 0.1% of their investment per year to make it a little more convenient, then let them.


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/12/2012 5:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
I think they'll come up with a solution for much less when it becomes a mass-produced item. I have experience with wireless power transfer. It's not that hard or expensive.

The only engineering/cost issue I see is heat dissipation, but being under a car should hopefully keep that a minor issue.


RE: ...really?
By zodiacfml on 4/13/2012 2:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
Both has points.
I think the best is to have it both, wired and wireless.
The wireless tech would be the common way to charge (leaving the car overnight) while also allowing wired charging when the need arise for fast charge.

I believe charging has to be convenient for EVs to be popular and then replace the expensive and complicated hybrids.


RE: ...really?
By crimson117 on 4/12/2012 10:35:31 AM , Rating: 3
Well generally you don't have to refill your tank every day, while with an EV you probably need to recharge every night.

And if you wake up to realize you're running on fumes, it takes 10 minutes to stop at a gas station before work. But if you forget to charge an EV you could have to wait hours for the car to charge up before leaving the house.

So the consequences are greater for forgetting to "fill up" an EV, and so anything that makes it more automatic is a welcome and needed improvement.


RE: ...really?
By Motoman on 4/12/2012 10:48:46 AM , Rating: 2
I firmly disagree. It takes essentially no effort to plug your car in at night. Compared to the effort required to fill a tank of gas once, you can easily do a month's worth of putting the plug in the socket.

What concerns me more is the loss rate of electricity in a contactless system like that. You're literally throwing some percentage of the electricity down the toilet. Something like 10% probably.

So 10% of all the electricity that gets generated, distributed through the grid, and then to your garage, is just thrown away.

Sorry...that's a really bad idea. Even if it was just 1%, it's a really bad idea.

And unless a physicist can point out my error, physics pretty much guarantees that there will be a non-zero loss in that kind of field induction power transfer. It can't ever be lossless, like a wired connection essentially is.


RE: ...really?
By werfu on 4/12/2012 11:03:27 AM , Rating: 2
Wired connections aren't lossless either. However, I'm pretty sure today wire are much better at transmitting currant than wires used by Tesla and Eddison. Wireless induction has been known for years, but is still in its infancy for such a usage. Given time, I'm sure we'll be able to get a better efficiency.


RE: ...really?
By The Raven on 4/12/2012 11:44:06 AM , Rating: 2
I think you miss the point here. They will still use wires to deliver the power to your home/station. It is at that point where you can either continue 3 ft on a wire or waste energy with a wireless charge. Yes wires aren't perfect, but given that they are the standard do you want to make the delivery even more inefficient for little to no reason?


RE: ...really?
By Motoman on 4/12/2012 12:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
While it's true that there is what can be thought of as "radiative" loss from physical lines (the major transmission lines themselves lose electricity to the environment), it's firstly unavoidable (but the best that we can do), but the amount lost over the ~10' of cord from the wall socket to your car would be as close to zero as any measurement could ever be.


RE: ...really?
By Schrag4 on 4/12/2012 12:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
No need to explain, you already made this clear in your original post (bolded for emphasis):

quote:
And unless a physicist can point out my error, physics pretty much guarantees that there will be a non-zero loss in that kind of field induction power transfer. It can't ever be lossless, like a wired connection essentially is.


RE: ...really?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2012 12:56:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wireless induction has been known for years, but is still in its infancy for such a usage. Given time, I'm sure we'll be able to get a better efficiency.


I can't wait to see all the news reports if this becomes a reality of how all the wireless charging systems in homes are supposedly causing cancer and brain tumors. If people think cell phones pose a health risk, you can just imagine what they'll think about this lol


RE: ...really?
By JediJeb on 4/14/2012 1:03:15 PM , Rating: 2
RE: ...really?
By darkhawk1980 on 4/12/2012 12:15:34 PM , Rating: 2
Your 10% loss would actually be on the extremely good side of things.

Go take a look at the wireless pads that they make for charging cell phones. Just to give you a rough idea, for my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, if I want to actually charge the phone, the screen has to be off, and at most only playing music. If I'm downloading anything in the background (ie using 3G or 4G/LTE), or have the screen on for navigation, the phone will still discharge, albeit slower than normal, but it still would discharge.

Take a look at the specs for the wireless chargers like that. 50% transfer of energy is actually good for those. And that's when it's sitting millimeters away from the charging pad. For a car, it'd be even worse.

What people don't understand is that it's actually 2 power conversions being done, you have to change the electricity into magnetic energy, and then it gets transmitted, and changed again from magnetic energy to electricity. 2 conversions for 1 process that means you lose a large amount of the power.

What I can say, is that whoever comes up with a better idea that works, will make a ton of money. I mean, Intel worked on something similar to this about 4 years ago, and gave up. Why? Because they couldn't figure out a way to transfer power without losing most of it.


RE: ...really?
By Motoman on 4/12/2012 12:27:29 PM , Rating: 2
Well exactly, and that's simply the physical nature of field induction. People don't understand how wildly inefficient it is.

Somewhere, Faraday is rolling in his grave.


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/13/2012 11:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
So you understand the physical nature of inductive power transfer? I do, and have done extensive experimentation with it for my PhD.

It can be wildly inefficient, and it can be efficient. It depends on the geometry. These aren't high clearance offroaders. EVs are much wider than their distance from the ground. They're also large, meaning they won't run into mass/size restrictions limiting the amount of copper and raising resistance. These conditions allow for very good efficiency in a well designed system.


RE: ...really?
By Motoman on 4/14/2012 1:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
...all of which are worse than the essentially zero-loss plug-in connection.

I don't care if the loss is 1%. That's still a massive waste.


RE: ...really?
By Ringold on 4/12/2012 10:57:12 AM , Rating: 2
That's true with current EV's, sure. This technology seems like the wrong solution to the problem though. I'd rather the 4 million go towards increasing battery capacity so that they aren't one-day-charge vehicles. Get the range to twice its current level and, with some minor improvements, one either doesn't have to worry quite so much or could quick-charge enough to get to work (where one could probably plug in) in a matter of minutes.

Actually, rather the 4 million be saved, since that sort of work is already feverishly being pursued..


RE: ...really?
By Flunk on 4/12/2012 11:14:14 AM , Rating: 2
Weight, physics are big issues for batteries. You can't jump from where we are now to where you want to be. There are intermediary steps.


RE: ...really?
By TSS on 4/12/2012 4:59:11 PM , Rating: 3
Whats needed is that people plug the car in every night after they've gone home and make it routine, regardless of wether the battery is full or empty. If it's routine, it won't be forgotten.

I've never forgotten my keys when i leave the house, never. Because i always keep them in my hand when i leave and close the door. If they're not in my hand, i don't leave. Likewise i could say, if the EV isn't plugged in i won't leave the garage. So that every time you want to leave the garage you'll check if your car is plugged in.

Now you'll have to forget 2 things, plugging it in and checking if you've plugged it in, before something goes wrong, making the risk of it happening smaller. If it costs a little effort, don't you think something as important as your daily transportation deserves that effort?

What can be automated, is the charger deciding when to actually charge the EV. Considering all the different factors (battery operating range of 30%-80%, charging speed being faster in the beginning and slower towards the end etc) there's no way to fill a battery like you'd fill a tank.

No good can come from allowing people to forget important stuff. In this example there isn't a single person that'll actually remember plugging it in once you're in a location that doesn't have a wireless charging system, but you need to charge it anyway.


RE: ...really?
By Flunk on 4/12/2012 11:12:39 AM , Rating: 2
They're trying to make it easier, rather than harder, than owning a gas vehicle. Charging cycles are still much longer than gas but not having to plug it in will appeal to some.

In your analogy you would have to pull into the station, plug it in and sit there for 8 hours. I don't think many people would be happy with that.

I'm not so sure that this is a great idea myself, I'm just explaining why people might want it.


RE: ...really?
By The Raven on 4/12/2012 11:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In your analogy you would have to pull into the station, plug it in and sit there for 8 hours. I don't think many people would be happy with that.
You realize that the 'station' is in your garage, right? No, I don't think many people (especially early adopters) would care about that enough to waste 4 bil on it.


RE: ...really?
By Keeir on 4/12/2012 1:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In your analogy you would have to pull into the station, plug it in and sit there for 8 hours. I don't think many people would be happy with that.


If I offered you a magical device that you feed electricity in and would deposit in your gas tank a gallon of gasoline every day at a price of ~1 dollar per day...

how often would you forget to flip the switch or push the button to make it start?

I've know people to drive 20 minutes out of there way to save a few dollars on a tankful of gasoline. Yet most people aren't going to remember to plug-in to save dollars a day. I mean, your literally paying yourself 200 dollars a hour every time you remember to plug-in (a PHEV).


RE: ...really?
By Mint on 4/16/2012 8:54:25 AM , Rating: 2
I think for PHEV it's not going to have much appeal aside from gadget lovers.


RE: ...really?
By Shadowsite on 4/12/2012 12:26:51 PM , Rating: 2
The other advantage to this is the implementation at the stores you shop at would allow you to charge your car without worry that the plugs will be vandalized, or tampered with.


RE: ...really?
By ProZach on 4/12/2012 5:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
I figured this to be the only realistic usage of this kind of idea. As a lot of other readers already mentioned, typical EV owners can plug-in in their garage at night for the daytime commute.

Ignoring the obvious arguments of consumer laziness and criminally inefficient usage of electricity, parking lot wireless recharging could open the idea of certain parking spots could "charge for a charge." Some device that looked like a parking meter you could let a person buy X number of minutes of vehicle charge time. Is $1/minute fair? I have no idea, probably varies per state and also depends if the parking spot is downtown, in parking garage, at the workplace or good ol' Walmart.

Speaking of shopping, the extra EM emission and batteries getting warm during recharge, pet owners are better off leaving their dog at home. [rant]The area I live there are tons of calls to police dispatch complaining that a dog inside a parked car doesn't have the windows rolled down enough.[/rant]


RE: ...really?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2012 12:42:12 PM , Rating: 1
Motoman you just never mind with your common sense approach, it's not the point. If we can make EV's "cooler", and keep paying people to buy them, stuff like this will make them more "viable". Get it?


RE: ...really?
By aliasfox on 4/12/2012 1:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
People complained about having to plug in to sync cell phones
People complained about having to plug in to charge cell phones
Why wouldn't people complain about plugging their cars in?

Another less than obvious possibility - wireless charging on highways. Taking your EV long distance? Sit in the right lane and run (at least partially) off the grid. Reduces your own battery usage and extends your range - how much would depend on how much current, obviously.


RE: ...really?
By Black1969ta on 4/12/2012 10:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
Many years ago Oklahoma had a prototype stretch of rad with embedded coils for charge cars as they drove. Or maybe it was just magnets since that is all it would take to charge a moving car, it was news around the same time as the Chevy EV1.


RE: ...really?
By bobsmith1492 on 4/13/2012 4:39:25 PM , Rating: 2
It would take more than just magnets. Magnets don't produce energy. You have to move a conductor through the magnetic field.

Driving a car across one of course moves through its field and can produce electricity.

BUT! The magnet pushes back on your car exactly the same amount as the power it generates in the wire. So you can't gain any more electric power than you lose in momentum from your car. Kind of like putting a windmill on your roof.


RE: ...really?
By freedom4556 on 4/12/2012 4:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
At least it means hooligans and children can't unplug your car while your at work/in the store/parked in your carport. Not all of us have a closed garage to put a charge point in.


RE: ...really?
By stimudent on 4/13/2012 1:11:50 AM , Rating: 2
The oil and natural gas companies will quietly put an end to this anyway. SO don't even bother debating the highlights.


RE: ...really?
By Argon18 on 4/16/2012 4:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget about the coal companies. Oh wait, no, because burning coal is how the majority of electricity in the US is produced. So these "electric" cars are in reality, coal-burning cars. And I know when I think of "green" and "clean", I think of coal. Lol.


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