Wireless In-road Charging – The Missing Part of the Puzzle in e-mobility

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February 13, 2023


Autonomous Vechicles / Clean Energy / Energy / Energy Efficiency / Energy Innovation / Energy Storage


Wireless In-road Charging – The Missing Part of the Puzzle in e-mobility

Autonomous car sensor system concept for safety of driverless mode car control

Wireless In-road Charging – The Missing Part of the Puzzle in e-mobility

Battery range and charging accessibility are the two biggest barriers to the worldwide adoption of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and the general electrification of light and medium-duty transportation sectors. To alleviate these two issues, recent research has focussed on methodologies (Wireless In-road Charging) that allow wireless charging while on the move i.e. dynamic charging using under-road pads that wirelessly transmit electricity to vehicle-mounted receivers. This would give customers confidence with respect to range anxiety, ultimately removing the hesitation associated with purchasing Battery Electric Vehicles.

Innovations in Wireless In-Road Charging

Several projects have been undertaken over the past few years to recharge electric vehicles as they pass by using power from the road or a nearby strip. ElectReon, a company based in Israel, is participating in several pilot projects to examine the viability of Wireless in-Road Charging Technologies. A project in early 2021 utilized a 1.65 km public road in Gotland, Sweden, to install the company’s dynamic wireless charging system. The Swedish smart road successfully charged a fully electric long-haul truck wirelessly after conducting several tests to ensure the system’s stability. The truck was driving through a 200m stretch of the road at various speeds up to 60km/h.

No Impact in Snow & Ice

The company demonstrated that snow and ice have no impact on the technology’s charging capabilities. The company expects to start the operation of the entire road once they receive all the necessary approvals from relevant authorities, following these successful tests. It will commence trials with multiple vehicles that will charge simultaneously to calibrate and optimise the system further. The company has also recently installed a 700 m segment of dynamic charging road in Israel, in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

Fifth-Largest Automaker

Stellantis, the fifth-largest automaker in the world, and the parent company of Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Opel, Peugeot, Ram, Maserati, and many other brands, has developed and tested a charge-as-you-drive system consisting of an Italian road loop with wireless BEV charging coils buried beneath the surface. This system allows electric vehicles to charge continuously, resulting in an extended range. The project called “Arena Del Futuro” project is located within a 1km loop of the road near the Chiari exit of the A35 Motorway, approximately 30 minutes outside Milan in northern Italy.

Arena Del Futuro

They constructed the ‘Arena Del Futuro’ to test various cutting-edge transportation technologies, including enhanced 5G connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT) concepts, Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communications, and improvements to road surfaces. However, its main objective was to evaluate and demonstrate the performance of wireless on-road charging systems, such as its in-house Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWTP) technology. Before installing the DWTP, they cut several small grooves into the road surface. They then lay down a series of flattish inductive charging coils and connect them to a power source. They then cover these coils with asphalt. When it is powered, the coils transmit power to passing vehicles if they are equipped with receivers.

Indiana Department Of Transportation (INDOT)

In 2022, the Governor of Indiana, USA, declared that Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) will start testing the viability of Magment, it is a type of magnetized concrete that will be used to charge electric vehicles. In the summer of 2022, Purdue University researchers manufactured a short section of a dynamic wireless charging road near the Purdue campus in conjunction with the INDOT road engineers. If testing provides a positive outcome, they will construct a second road section – measuring a quarter of a mile – at an INDOT location. Electric trucks requiring a minimum of 2000kW will test the road with further installations outlined if the trials are successful.

University Of Auckland

Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have developed a simulation methodology to evaluate wireless in-road charging capability. Electric vehicles can charge while in motion through electromagnetic induction with the use of Dynamic Wireless Charging (DWC) pads that are incorporated into the road. The study examined the effects of traffic and the size and strength of the DWC pads to determine whether they might be preferable to conventional plug-in stations.

How To Keep Vehicle Fully Charged

They discovered that to keep a vehicle fully charged, charging pads would only need to occupy 12% of a highway if they were powerful enough. Thus, as long as traffic is flowing, these systems could easily save time and money since capacity is unlimited. Ultimately, dynamic wireless charging can address the limited driving range, increased battery capacity (which raises the price), and extended charging times of BEVs, resulting in improved air quality and a cutting-edge transportation system.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) Charging Trail

In mid-2022, Volvo began a new wireless BEV charging trial in Gothenburg, Sweden. To test how well the system performed in the real world. The company provided Cabonline the largest taxi operator in the Nordic region with a small fleet of electric XC40s. Over the next three years, Cabonline will use Volvo’s wireless charging pads to charge the cars. The system uses inductive charging which allows drivers to charge their cars simply by parking over a charging pad.

Charge BEV Faster Through Wireless In-road Charging

It transfers power from the charging stations to the battery pack. According to Volvo, its wireless BEV charging system charges BEVs nearly four times faster than an 11kW wired connection. The XC40 taxis should be able to charge from 20 to 80% capacity in a little over one hour. Since the wireless charging power (40kW) is comparable to a wired 50kW DC rapid charger. While this is a static system, Volvo expects to evolve this technology to allow dynamic wireless charging. Without vehicles having to remain stationary for prolonged periods.

The Future of Wireless In-road Charging

Wireless in-road charging is critical for the proliferation of electric vehicles. Because it removes many roadblocks associated with buying electric vehicles. Such as range and the necessity for pausing journeys to recharge the vehicle’s batteries.

The cost of installing wireless in-road charging will be substantial. We will have to completely transform the current transportation infrastructure to suit the new application. According to research at Cornell University, USA, wireless in-road charging changes will require an efficient bidding strategy. Minimizing energy costs for private operators and consumers who use the service. Furthermore, we must pay careful consideration to how we generate electricity for wireless in-road charging. If still relying on the burning of fossil fuels. They simply transfer the emissions from the road to the power station. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) thus charged could not be genuinely classified as zero-emission vehicles. We must also account for the ‘carbon cost’ associated with operating the wireless in-road charging infrastructure.

Wireless in-road charging will also need to withstand the weight and weather abuse that damages roads today. Hence, we need to develop more robust road materials to ensure that in-road wireless charging roads are durable. We could target the wireless in-road charging infrastructure to select locations or applications – such as bus stops or fleets with fixed routes and known stops, thus, often used for charging vehicles require frequent battery top-ups.

We expect this technology to be widespread within the next two decades. Resulting in both an evolutionary and revolutionary change to on-road transportation.

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