Wireless Charging For Cars? It's Happening, And It Works With Tesla's Model S

Apr 20, 2016 04:37 AM EDT | Tes Christiansen

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New studies are being introduced to minimize potential concerns surrounding the rising popularity of electric vehicles. Seen as a better alternative than regular gas-powered cars, EVs are receiving government funding and support to raise the bar against 'range anxiety'via wireless charging for existing and future buyers.

And this is where the Oak Ridge National Laboratory team comes in.ORNL researchers have successfully developed a new system that would run thrice faster than the 7-kilowatt high-voltage power outlets that EV owners are currently using to charge nowadays, according to CarAdvice AU. The ORNL's wireless charging system has been slated to have reached up to 90 percent efficiency rate as of this writing.

This new 20-kilowatt wireless charger was developed by ORNL together with Cisco Systems, Toyota, Plugless Power makers Evatran, and Clemson University. A demo of this system was used in a Toyota RAV4 EV where the team attached the single-converter setup with an added 10 kWh battery.

The wireless charging system is also equipped with an isolation transformer, coupling technology, as well as an in-house inverter. The team also claims that the wireless charger can be installed and used in public locations such as outdoor cafes and malls, according to the publication.

The wireless charging technology is presently in the U.S, and electric car owners can already get their hands on the Plugless Power wireless charger which is compatible with the Chevy Bolt, Cadillac ELR, and of course, the Nissan Leaf. It also charges as fast at a Level 2 3.3 kilowatt rate, and could give the EV about 30 miles of range even for a quick half-hour charge. Pre-order reservations are already accepted for  the Tesla Model S.

InsiderCarNews also says the ORNL is working towards testing the wireless charging system in another setup, that is, to charge while the EV is in use or on the road. Aside from that, the team is already developing a 50-kilowatt wireless charger which is set to match the charge rate of current chargers.

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