Oh, Canada. Our neighbors to the north say they've come up with a cheaper, more efficient wireless charging system for electric vehicles. Specifically, engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a way to wirelessly charge a vehicle that cuts frequency by 99 percent, an advancement said to have health benefits.

In a nutshell, the system uses one magnet in the charging system and one in the vehicle to eliminate the need for radio waves in the charging process. UBC, which has four wireless charging stations on its Vancouver campus, says its chargers have 90 percent of the efficiency of a wired charging system. The device has an unexpected pedigree, as the magnetically-driven charging system was originally designed for a pacemaker. Check out the two-minute video below for a clearer explanation of how it all works.



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  • 33 Comments
      Tysto
      • 1 Month Ago
      Turn it around. What if you could get gas without having to touch the pump or remove the fuel cap or anything, but it would cost a dollar or two more? Plenty of people would go for it. Besides: 1) Inductive charging is just starting out, and the best systems are more like 95% efficient. 2) The price you'll pay at a public charger will have almost nothing to do with the cost of the energy and everything to do with the market price of location and convenience.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      That is because you have worded it in a: 'Have you stopped beating your wife? format. People are not currently, by and large, driving around in electric vehicles, and so even should the use of inductive charging mean a 10% loss in efficiency, if it makes it more likely that they will swap, then they would still be ahead. This will also enable vehicles such as delivery vans to get short charges, so extending the distances they can drive on electricity, and making wider use of EVs practical, as delivery drivers, bus drivers and so on are not going to keep jumping in and out to plug in at every stop. What is more, although on this particular early prototype system the developers have said that there is a 10% efficiency loss, it is by no means clear that this applies to all the rest of the inductive systems, or that it represents any sort of irreducible minimum. Here is Halo on efficiency: '‘There has been a lot of mythology around wireless charging being inefficient. Although we lose a couple of per cent from the road to the car, most high-frequency plug-in chargers have a similar loss through AC-DC conversion and back again,’ added Thomson.' http://www.theengineer.co.uk/sectors/automotive/tfl-depots-to-trial-inductive-charging-technology/1007568.article So it is perfectly possible that any loss will be minimal, perhaps depending on the system chosen, and in any case the overt efficiency of the energy transfer is far from the only relevant metric.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Month Ago
      Shut up and take my money!
      marcopolo
      • 1 Month Ago
      @ Smith Jim People didn't prefer self-service. There just became no option ! Self service was introduced to rationalize gasoline retailing to minimize labour, eliminate small franchise operations, and increase profits by replace mechanical services, with convenience stores as profit centres. Convenience sells.
      Smith Jim
      • 1 Month Ago
      How would ICE vehicle owners react if there was a device that automatically put gasoline into an ICE vehicle BUT 10% of the fuel is wasted?
        Smith Jim
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Smith Jim
        Many years ago most gas stations were full service. Gas stations began to offer self service and there was a discount on the fuel. Virtually all gas stations are now self service because people are willing to do it themselves and save a little money. The wireless charging seems like taking a step backwards to me.
        Smith Jim
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Smith Jim
        Instead of down rating me, perhaps someone could answer my question. How would you react if there was a way to automatically put gasoline in your car but 10% of the fuel gets wasted?
      marcopolo
      • 1 Month Ago
      @ Smith Jim Well Jim, there are six excellent answers for you ! But, there is an almost direct comparison for your question. When the automatic clutch/transmission was first introduced it's opponents argued that the technology used more fuel. But, the auto-transmission has gone on to be hugely popular. There's a strong streak of the engineering puritan in you. There will always be products for consumers like you who prefer engineering efficiency over convenience, comfort or style. The more choice exists, the better.
      Smith Jim
      • 1 Month Ago
      Electric Avenue If you read the whole article you will have noticed the part where it says, " its chargers have 90 percent of the efficiency of a wired charging system"
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Month Ago
      This is a mechanical system?? They have a second video that suggests a physical magnetic cylinder is spinning inside both parts, presumably coupled to motor/generator pair. That would explain the odd shape. That doesn't seem like a good design at all.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        Hi Giza. It really, really helps if you link stuff you refer to! However, the link is here: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-remote-magnetic-gearssafe-wireless-vehicle-charging.html The 2nd video, the one you are talking about, states that this low frequency transfer will not interfere with high frequency emissions, and shows that metal does not interfere, so that, for instance, dropping a coin above the charger will not cause problems.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Yeah, I am very far from convinced about this design myself, but then again I am not an engineer, and ill-qualified to judge cutting edge technologies, aside from the fact that a lot of the info and certainly the pitfalls of new designs of anything are held close to the chest. We might have more solid info to go on in a couple of years, but already it seems pretty clear that induction in one form or another will form part of our electric future.
          Schmart Guy
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Giza, Most wireless EV charging uses resonant inductive coupling. This requires higher frequencies to boost power and efficiency. From Plugless Power website "Using high-frequency AC power". http://www.pluglesspower.com/questions-answers/technical-specifications/safety/ Even the old "Magne Charge Inductive Charger Model WM7200 operates on a radio frequency". That can be found in the FCC Information section of the following PDF. http://www.evchargernews.com/miscfiles/gm%20atv%20wm7200%20owners%20manual.pdf 60Hz is OK for charging a toothbrush, but not much more.
          Giza Plateau
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Have you ever had radio noise from a mains transformer? Their argument for this design doesn't hold water.
      atc98092
      • 1 Month Ago
      "...that cuts frequency by 99 percent..." What exactly is that supposed to mean? Frequency is not measured by volume, but simply where on the electo-magnetic spectrum an emission resides. The article says they will "reduce" the frequency by 100 times, but that doesn't translate into a "cut". That would mean changing the frequency of the emission from (for example, not what they are really doing) 100 GigaHertz to 1 GigaHertz, or 1 GigaHertz to 100 MegaHertz. The way I read the article is that the spinning magnet on the ground unit simply uses magnetic force (which by itself doesn't have a frequency) to spin a magnet mounted in the car, and that magnet runs the generator to charge the battery. My only concern is that they either have to be very close to each other or the magnet in the ground unit is very powerful. Depending on the strength of that magnetic field, it could have an effect on nearby electronics, such as your wristwatch for instance.
        atc98092
        • 1 Month Ago
        @atc98092
        I don't think I got my second example correct, but you get my idea. I think more accurate would be 1 GHz to 10 MHz, but then I've never been a math wiz :)
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      LTAW: Yeah, a one-metric approach always misses a great deal, and if you are going to use only one then money is probably the best, as it is itself the sum of a host of inputs, including energy. I doubt that a fortune is being spent to minimise losses, as for a full 'tank' of electricity you might only be talking of saving 20 cents or so with 100% efficiency. The real battle is getting the cost of the induction charger down to affordable levels.
      Val
      • 1 Month Ago
      Why do you say 100 years, why not go all the way and count from the invention of the battery by alessandro volta? Or the supposed ancient baghdad batteries? When in reality lithium research started in the 70s and sony was the first to commercialize a lithium cell in 1990. So that's like 30 years of development. For 20 years of development after the invention of the combustion engine, it didn't even have an electric starter, it had terrible fuel economy and emissions, and made something like 50hp from some huge displacement. For 20 years lithium ion batteries have come a long way, especially when compared to the development of diesel or gasoline engines for their first 20 years. It takes a long tome to bring something from the labs to market, and not every research projects succeeds, but just in the last 5 years there have been huge improvements, like moving away from cobalt in batteries, making them safer and cheaper to produce. Battery analysts are actually revising their forecasts on the future prices of batteries downwards.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      Inductive charging will help the currently more popular plug in hybrids more than BEVs, as apparently they are charged on average 1.4 times a day compared to 1.1 times for BEVs. It is not easy to have an intrusive charging post in every location, and under the ground plates may be more popular for work locations.
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