Electric Vehicle - The power of inductive charging
Charging your electric vehicle is something special if you do it for the first time. It either becomes something you hardly notice, or something of a nuisance after having plugged in your car. Or worse, after having forgotten to plug it in at night and only discovering first thing in the morning that your vehicle has not properly charged up yet.
Currently inductive charging is at a state at which it can deliver wireless charging of your vehicle, while parked. True, it comes at an increased cost versus the conventional charger, there is also a small extra loss involved due to the decrease in efficiency, but the concept of 'Park and forget' is appealing nonetheless.
Inductive charging - Also on your toothbrush
For those of you who have missed out on this, inductive charging is a technology that is similar to what is used in most electric toothbrushes and electric water kettles. It uses two coils to transfer power from one coil to the other and requires no direct contact. In case of the toothbrush and the kettle, this allows you to safely use and charge the appliance in an environment with water (the bathroom or kitchen) without having to worry if water can cause short-circuit. The principle is already tried and tested in this way; the technology is hardly 'new'. What is new about it is the appliance to electric vehicles and the much larger powers involved with them now.
The inductive charger allows you to 'Park and forget' your car in your garage for example. You do not have to remember to plug it in, just drive it over at the designated parking space that is fitted with the technology and charging automatically starts.
There are many other possibilities out there around inductive charging, a few of my favorite I'll cover here. The most obvious one is the charger in your parking space. Park your car and let it charge while it is there idling and you are out to shop or work for example.
The Connexxion Bus that uses Inductive Charging in Utrecht - Link [Dutch]
A current example is the inductive charging of a bus on one of its stops. In my hometown in Utrecht, there is a bus line going through the older parts of the city centre and getting that bus to drive on electricity can seriously help preserve the old buildings, while also enabling a cleaner environment to live in obviously. The route of the bus is a shorter one than the average, but on one of its stops it has a special inductive charger build into the road at the bus stop. This stop is located at the central station and it is one of the longer stops in the route. It is here that the bus tops up the battery with some electricity while the driver goes for a coffee or to the restroom. This way of operating the bus allows it to run a full shift all day without sacrificing the service. It also helps reducing the required size of the battery; it does not have to carry all power for the entire day along. A smaller battery results in a cheaper bus and also a lighter bus.
Drayson Racing - Plans to use Inductive Charging in race conditions
The other application that recently hit the news was to have inductive charging being used in the motor sports; Drayson in the UK plans to have a competition set up for electric car racing and the cars would then recharge in the pit lane by an inductive charger. Compared to for example Formula 1, this would take out the people responsible for refueling the car. Less people around the car during a pit stop results in less potential accidents. Also the other mechanics could still change tires if needed.
More of a really nice futuristic scenario is fitting this inductive charging technology onto our highways, allowing you to speed over the highways and getting charged while doing so. The main benefits from this would be that the battery size can be reduced a lot and that you don't have to stop to recharge your car when doing those long road trips.