Wireless charging technology for electric cars

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The ability to recharge electric cars without any cables has moved a step closer with the global debut of wireless charging technology from HaloIPT.

The technology has been introduced as part of the Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators (CABLED) consortium, the UK’s largest public trial of ultra-low emission vehicles.

Arup, leaders of the CABLED consortium – which is trialing 110 vehicles as part of the Technology Strategy Board’s £25m Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator competition – has brought two Citroen C1 electric vehicles into the project, each fitted with the HaloIPT’s wireless charging technology in addition to the standard plug-in conductive charging ability.

HaloIPT’s induction power technology (IPT) uses a method of transferring power without wires over relatively large distances, with no cables or sliding contacts. It uses strongly coupled magnetic resonance to transfer from a primary-side power supply to a secondary-side pick-up pad with controller. To initiate charging, an electric vehicle simply has to be parked or even driven over a pad on the ground.

Neil Butcher of Arup, who leads the CABLED consortium, said: “HaloIPT is potentially a game-changing technology for electric vehicles. Users can simply park their vehicle in a bay with this technology, and forget any worries of finding a 3-pin socket and connecting cables.

“There are a number of perceived barriers to plugging in an electric vehicle in the mind of the potential consumer and this project intends to demonstrate that inductive charging is a practical alternative. Having driven a conductively charged vehicle for 12 months myself, I’m personally very interested in unearthing users’ perceptions of the HaloIPT system to see how it compares to the current charging methods.

“We feel that having HaloIPT in the trial represents a significant step forward on the road to making electric vehicles more convenient for use by the general public.”

To support the vehicles, the HaloIPT charging system will be installed at either the user’s home or work location, making it the first public deployment of this system. The users also have the backup of a plug-in cable charging point, and can access the CABLED public charging infrastructure installed by E.ON across Birmingham and Coventry city centres.

Data monitoring equipment will be installed on the two vehicles to provide information on vehicle charging and energy usage. The resulting data from the trial – which is being analysed with other vehicles involved in the CABLED trials by Aston University – will then be published to inform potential users and vehicle manufacturers of the benefits of wireless inductive charging.

Anthony Thomson, CEO of HaloIPT, said: “This is the first phase of an ambitious future programme to demonstrate the central role that wireless charging will play in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. In the longer term we are striving towards embedding highways with charge pads to enable ‘dynamic charging’, which will allow charging of vehicles in motion”.

“Dynamic charging has the ability to change the way the public view electric vehicles by completely removing the need to stop and charge. It has the potential to transform our thinking on low carbon vehicles by enabling them to travel safely, with minimum environmental impact, for unlimited distances but with smaller, lighter and cheaper batteries. We want to free the electric car.”

Mitsubishi completed the first part of the CABLED project last December, following 12-month trials of 25 i-MiEVs. Additional vehicles in the trials include the Tata Indica Vista, the smart fortwo electric drive, Jaguar Land Rover’s Range_e and hydrogen urban cars from Micro:cab.