Scitech  So good so far

Dreaming up a new way to power cars

Electrically powered vehicles have been viewed negatively in the past for having low battery lives and for the inconvenience that comes with having to recharge. But how would being able to charge your car, while driving, change the public’s view of these vehicles? Standford University’s Global Climate & Energy Project has introduced the concept of charging vehicles on the go, wirelessly.

The basic concept involves a series of coils that would be embedded under the pavement of the road. The coils emit a a magnetic field, and when the car passes over them, they pick up energy via a receiving panel underneath the body of the car.

Researcher Shanhui Fan explains that “this wireless transfer scheme has an efficiency of 97 per cent”—that is, it is very efficient. This, however, is for a single car going down a highway. Efficiency may differ from region to region due to surrounding noise pollution, weather (ice, snow, et cetera), and other external radiation that may affect energy transfer.  Further testing is being done to determine potential impacts of this technology on human health.

As of yet, there is not an official estimate of the costs of implementing this system on an entire highway. Wireless charging technology has seen growth in the consumer electronics field recently, but is extremely premature when applied on the scale of moving traffic – still only just a good idea, and existing only in computer simulations. But the potential for the development and branching on this technology is incredibly large.