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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.


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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):

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
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.

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