Following Stanford University’s recent testing on Honda’s Fit electric vehicles, researchers at the university are now developing a new wireless system that will magnetically charge your EVs while you are driving.
The idea came after researchers recognized the disadvantages of electric vehicles’ limited driving ranges which may use less energy but run at a weaker strength. For example, the Nissan Leaf is only capable of driving less than 100 miles on a single full charge. To fully recharge the Leaf’s battery, users will have to wait approximately 10 hours and cannot bet on charging stations to be around on long trips. These drawbacks with EVs have not been addressed to date, discouraging the general market from making the move from traditional cars.
To combat this problem, Stanford researchers have created a “charge-as-you-drive” network which utilizes copper coils that will be embedded in highway roads and under the belly of the EVs. The coils will be tuned to the same natural frequency and as the car moves, a process called “magnetic resonance coupling” occurs, meaning when the road coils that are connected to an electric current power up, they send electricity to the receiving coil in the car and thus charging the EV’s battery.
“What makes this concept exciting is that you could potentially drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to recharge,” said 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.”
It could be years before we see these electromagnetic roads implemented into our daily lives as researchers continue to ensure this process will not harm drivers, passengers, or affect the computer systems that control steering, navigation, and air conditioning. It is also imperative for researchers to confirm mobile phones, credit cards and other electronic gadgets will not be thrown off by this proposed flow of magnetic currents.
Another issue researchers may face with electric vehicles is the combustion emissions EVs produce when electricity is generated. A recent study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville found that EVs in China may leave an even larger carbon footprint than gasoline-powered cars because 85 percent of electricity production in the country comes from fossil fuels, with about 90 percent of that from coal. In the United States, coal accounts for an average of approximately 46 percent of electricity production across the 50 states. Additionally, battery-making factories also largely contribute to pollution due to the chemicals involved in the process. So when you add this with the fact that you’ll deplete natural resources each time you have to recharge an EV every other 100 miles, and compare it to burning up gasoline in a conventional car, the result may end up just as harmful as each other.
Though electric vehicles and their charging systems are not perfect, with new developments underway, the technology could still be a safer bet toward a greener future.