In a world where charging electric cars is a key point in boosting the energy transition, other solutions can come alongside electric charging stations. One such solution is wireless charging. Wireless car charging is an enhanced version of smartphone charging with several differences. “Wireless inductive charging allows an electric vehicle [EV] to automatically charge without the need of cables,” said Michael Rai Anderson, CEO of Plugless Power, in an interview with Power Electronics News.
“Technically, everything is scalable; however, as power transfer rates go up, the complexity and size of the power management electronics must go up,” he added. “More importantly, as the power goes up, a number of additional factors needs to be considered, such as thermal losses and thermal management. The higher the inefficiency, and the higher the power, the higher the heat losses and more that must be done to manage that heat.”
Dr. Milan Rosina, principal analyst for Power Electronics and Batteries at Yole Développement (Yole), said that EV charging requires much higher voltage, power, and amount of energy transferred. Therefore, the technology, safety, cost, and environmental challenges are much more severe. “While wireless chargers and smartphones are often in close contact, it is difficult to position the vehicle accurately over the charger, and the distance between charger (transmitter) and the receiver installed on the vehicle is much bigger,” he said.
Rosina pointed out that this results in poor efficiency of the energy transfer in actual conditions. But it is high efficiency that is needed to reduce the cost and thermal management challenges, as well as to reduce the environmental impact of wireless charging.
Moreover, the high voltage and high power necessary for EV charging bring additional challenges regarding the safety and the cost of wireless charging systems. “Wireless charging also requires an additional charger to be integrated into the vehicle, which increases the vehicle cost,” said Rosina. “The installation of EV wireless chargers in public places is also associated with many challenges. The upgrade of a wireless charger by a newer generation is more complex than in the case of a wired charger. Autonomous charging is often presented as a kind of convenient or even automated charging. Indeed, autonomous vehicles would optimally use a kind of automated charging, and wireless charging seems to be a promising option here. But several companies have also developed automated solutions, such as battery swap, robotic arm charging, or automated movable charging systems. Such solutions will compete with wireless charging once the demand for automated solutions becomes pressing.”
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