Researchers invent 'remote magnetic gears'—safe wireless vehicle-charging technology

Oct 29, 2012
The new UBC wireless charging system works in all weather conditions. Credit: UBC

University of British Columbia researchers have invented a safe, efficient technology to wirelessly charge electric vehicles using "remote magnetic gears" – and successfully tested it on campus service vehicles.

"Wireless charging has been a much sought-after technical solution for everything from cell phones to ," says UBC Physics Prof. Lorne Whitehead. "A significant concern for charging cars wirelessly has been the high power and high frequency and their unknown, potential on humans."

Prof. Whitehead and his team invented a completely different method operating at a frequency 100 times lower and with negligible exposed electric fields. Their solution uses "remote magnetic gears" – a rotating base magnet driven by electricity from the grid, and a second located within the car – to eliminate the use of radio waves. The base gear remotely spins the in-car gear, which in turns generates power to charge the battery.

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Four wireless charging stations have been installed at UBC's Building Operations parking lot and service vehicles retrofitted with the new technology. Tests show the system is more than 90 per cent efficient compared to a cable charge. A full charge takes four hours and enables the vehicle to run throughout an eight-hour shift.

"One of the major challenges of is the need to connect cords and sockets in often cramped conditions and in bad weather," says David Woodson, Managing Director of UBC Building Operations. "Since we began testing the system, the feedback from drivers has been overwhelmingly positive – all they have to do is park the car and the charging begins automatically."

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The team originally conceived the magnetically driven for medical devices such as an implanted . The larger system, supported by the NSERC Idea to Innovation Grant, was tested at UBC as part of the Campus as a Living Laboratory initiative and provides valuable data for further research and development. A patent for the technology has been filed through the University Industry Liaison Office.

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More information: www.ubcwirelesscharging.ca/

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User comments : 19

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rjsc2000
5 / 5 (3) Oct 29, 2012
clean and simple.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2012
It can't support very fast charging rates though, because the 10% energy loss in the system presents a heat management problem. As the batteries get bigger, the charging times get longer

Further improvement could be to move the charging device sideways on rails so you don't need the pegs to park the car in the exact right spot.
dschlink
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2012
Fast enough for the home market. Mounting the rotor on a radial arm with a slide would make positioning easier. It could probably be done automaticly and the charger could swing out of the way once the battery is topped off.
jscroft
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 29, 2012
I can charge my big-ass truck in about 90 seconds at any gas pump in the nation. If it ain't broke....
sigfpe
not rated yet Oct 29, 2012
A generator works by having magnets move near coils of wire. They could have done this directly. Instead what they did was this: have currents in wires move magnets (that's how a motor works) attached to a driveshaft with magnets on the end that move magnets in the vehicle attached to a rotor attached to magnets that are rotated near coils of wire (in the generator) to generate electricity. Weird.
antialias_physorg
4.7 / 5 (3) Oct 30, 2012
The difference is that they use magnetic coupling - which has less of an stray EM issue.
djr
5 / 5 (2) Oct 30, 2012
"I can charge my big-ass truck in about 90 seconds at any gas pump in the nation. If it ain't broke...."

How much do you pay for a fill up? My brother in England pays about $9 u.s. per gallon - which is why he can't afford a big ass truck - and would love to have an electric car with the same range as his current i.c.e. - one step at a time right? We will get there if we keep innovating.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Oct 30, 2012
I can charge my big-ass truck in about 90 seconds at any gas pump in the nation. If it ain't broke....

It is broke. The fallout from putting all the pollutants and CO2 into the atmosphere are all around us. I agree that if something isn't broken then don't fix it - but for this we desperately need a fix.

Being forever dependent on the goodwill of oil producing countries is also not the best possible course of action.
Eikka
2 / 5 (3) Oct 30, 2012
It is broke. The fallout from putting all the pollutants and CO2 into the atmosphere are all around us. I agree that if something isn't broken then don't fix it - but for this we desperately need a fix.


But that's the point. The infrastructure isn't broken: it works much better than anything else. You simply don't need an expensive recharging infrastructure if you can fill up on the way. A small 1.0 liter diesel car can load up a couple jerry cans of fuel in the back, fill up the tank, and travel 2000 miles on them.

Replace gasoline with synthetic fuels and the problem is solved. The EU is already mandating up to 10% bio-component in all fuels, and PHEVs would reduce the overall fuel demand by 80-90%, which means they're already half-way into making all the necessary fuel from non-petroleum sources.

My brother in England pays about $9 u.s. per gallon


75% of that price is tax. It's simply the government telling the lower classes what they can drive.
djr
5 / 5 (1) Oct 30, 2012
"75% of that price is tax. It's simply the government telling the lower classes what they can drive." I agree with your point - although I would not have chosen the term "lower" classes. I am guessing you meant "poorer" people. However, I think you point is over simplified. My brother lives in Portsmouth. The have run out of room in Portsmouth - the streets are all parked up both sides, and only one car can fit down the middle of many streets. It can take a long time to find a parking space. Parking costs lots of money if you want to go to the high street, or to the beach etc. As we continue to crowd our cities - we face decisions about how to share the space. jscroft likes a big ass truck - but can our world support 9 billion big ass trucks? I think the government probably has a legitimate role in mediating some of these issues. I would like to see a more walking, biking, public transport friendly world - but I know others see this as an individual freedom issue -complex no?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 30, 2012
The infrastructure isn't broken: it works much better than anything else

If it kills you then 'better' is a very relative word, here.
If even the 'best' approach is suicidal then maybe it's time not to play.
But it's not the best (only the short-term cheapest and long term most expensive - which in no reality equates to 'best')

The EU is already mandating up to 10% bio-component in all fuels

And it's not really working. I do like synthetic fuels, but there is a lot of problems attached to it. Many cars can't use it (e.g. my car, which is a 2003 make geared towards high efficiency at 47mpg, uses such high compressions that it can't use the E10 fuel at all). Then there is the food for fuel issue - which is starting to be a real problem in third world countries.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (4) Oct 30, 2012
But that's the point. The infrastructure isn't broken: it works much better than anything else.
Infrastructure that creates air pollution in a city is not a solution. Breathing toxic waste is not a normal state for humans.
indio007
3 / 5 (2) Oct 30, 2012
This works better and doesn't have moving parts.
Flexible and Mobile Near-Field Wireless
Power Transfer using an Array of
Resonators
https://www.merl....-071.pdf

It becomes even more efficient (already at >85%) when a metamaterial is sandwiched between.
socean
not rated yet Nov 01, 2012
By the time this technology is widely deployed you won't be the driver, the car or big ass truck will park itself as needed in a charging station in between service runs.

With regard to efficiency and fuel prices:

When we automate the majority of vehicles in the world we won't need nearly as many, perhaps only a tenth as many, because none of them will ever be parked except as needed for servicing and/or charging.

Some consequences:

Fewer deaths/injuries
No more gas stations
No more parking lots
Less need for roads and the materials they are made of
Less need for road builders
Less demand for energy/fuel
Less carbon output
Less materials needed for vehicles
Fewer production plants
Fewer mechanics
No more traffic
No more smog
The right size and type of vehicle simply shows up as needed
No more need for individual ownership
Less demand for financing, less individual debt
Reclamation and re-purposing of highly valuable land ( e.g. urban farms )
and lots more.

I can't wait.

SteveL
not rated yet Nov 03, 2012
I can't wait.
Actually you can, and you will since it's not here yet.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2012
If it kills you then 'better' is a very relative word, here. If even the 'best' approach is suicidal then maybe it's time not to play.


You still don't get it. There's nothing wrong with a hammer - even when you keep banging your own head with it. The hammer is not at fault - it's you misusing it.

Infrastructure that creates air pollution in a city is not a solution. Breathing toxic waste is not a normal state for humans.


The infrastructure doesn't create any air pollution. The engines do, which means you need to fix the engine, not the infrastructure. Fuel cells can already utilize liquid hydrocarbons without any particulate or NOx emissions.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2012
By the time this technology is widely deployed you won't be the driver, the car or big ass truck will park itself as needed in a charging station in between service runs.


Not as long as city planners refuse to build enough parking space. Even if they did, the world is never that optimal. Sometimes the parking lot is full and you have to park by the side of the road.
88HUX88
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2012
there are too many cars, driving a car makes you selfish and if this makes you angry then you are a car driver and associate driving with identity and freedom, we share the planet already some compromises are necessary for the future or you can deny everything and carry on as before. I like this idea but it is developed as a compromise between practicality, human nature (laziness) and energy transfer efficiency.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 05, 2012
driving a car makes you selfish and if this makes you angry then you are a car driver and associate driving with identity and freedom

The problem is not really the car. If you're a relaxed person then driving a car will not make you angry. (of course if you associate driving a car with "identity" or "freedom" instead of "getting from A to B" then you're not really living in reality - but that's another psychological issue)

but it is developed as a compromise between practicality, human nature (laziness) and energy transfer efficiency

These are the issues that determine whether something has the potential to be adopted or not. Of course we could go for some extreme of efficiency which might not be practical or convenient (or another extreme with the oother two factors dropping out). But that would mean the system would never see the light of day. Having an almost optimal system is better than not having one at all - no matter how perfect it is.