Wireless EV charging would be a nifty convenience for personal electric vehicle owners, and it looks like auto makers have tuned into the luxury car angle. However, the really big bucks — and the big sustainability payoff — comes into play for fleet vehicles.
Earlier this year, the team at the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, demonstrated their new wireless EV charging system on a plug-in hybrid UPS delivery van equipped with 60-kilowatt battery packs.
They propelled electricity through 11 inches of thin air, from an in-ground charging system all the way up into the waiting battery pack of a hybrid electric UPS truck, all without using their hands.
The wireless device takes energy from the grid and converts it to direct current (DC) voltage. Then a high-frequency inverter generates alternating current (AC), which in turn creates a magnetic field that transfers power across the air gap.
Once the energy is transferred to the secondary coil across the air gap it is converted back to DC, charging the vehicle’s battery pack.
The 20-kilowatt system is capable of recharging the van in about three hours, which stacks up favorably against the 5-6 hour time slot typically allotted for onboard charging.
Slicing the charging time in half is pretty impressive, but that’s nothing compared to the lab’s goal of developing a wireless EV fast-charging system fast enough to recharge a battery pack in about as much time as it would take to fill a gas tank.
If wireless charging saves time for fleet vehicles, it could offset any additional expense, and would provide fleet managers with solid bottom line incentives for transitioning to electric electric mobility, with extra credit for ditching diesel.
Reference- Oak Ridge National Laboratory PR, Clean Technica, InsideEVs