A start-up company has launched wireless charging technology, which it claims could revolutionise the electric vehicle market.
Fleets continue to voice their concerns about the range of electric vehicles (EVs), as well as having to deal with the practicalities of plugging them into the grid.
However, HaloIPT believes it has developed a system that will give drivers the simplicity of automatic wire-free charging, as well as improving the range and performance of EVs.
The technology, called Inductive Power Transfer (IPT), is commonly used to recharge electric toothbrushes and will now allow cars fitted with a receiver pad to charge automatically whilst parked over transmitter pads buried into the ground.
“Our vision at HaloIPT is to simplify and improve the electric car experience,” says Dr Anthony Thomson, HaloIPT’s chief executive officer. “We’re using IPT technology to finally break down the barriers to mass-market adoption of electric vehicles.”
The charging pads, which are around the size and thickness of a doormat, are designed to function beneath asphalt, while submerged in water or covered in ice and snow, and have a lateral tolerance of 250mm in any direction.
IPT systems can also be configured to power all road-based vehicles from small city cars to heavy goods vehicles and buses.
The company has already been in discussion with a number of utility firms and one option being mooted is a ‘pay-as-you-go’ scheme for EV drivers, where drivers sign-up and get billed for their car electricity consumption.
“This is possible as each car can be uniquely identified - similar to an Oyster card on the Underground - so usage can be accurately tracked wherever the driver charges, whether at home, at work or at the supermarket,” explains Thomson.
“Keeping electric vehicle costs down has also been a key priority for us – our technology will not cost any more than the plug-in equivalent.”
And, because the charging pads sit flush with the ground, the company says there is the additional bonus of them not adding to street clutter.
“They are also vandal-proof and, unlike plug-in stations, carry zero risk of electrocution as there are no exposed conductors,” says Thomson.
In the future, the company also envisages IPT technology being embedded into the road infrastructure so IPT cars can be charged on the move.
This dynamic in-motion charging represents the most effective way of solving the range issues faced by electric vehicles today and will significantly reduce battery size requirements, says HaloIPT.
The same pads used for stationary charging would be embedded at regular intervals in road surfaces, so the pads in the road and on the underside of the vehicle can activate each other, continually charging the battery.
This, the company claims, has the power to revolutionise the use of EVs by making long-distance travel by electric car a real possibility. Electric cars would no longer be constrained to inner-city travel and they would be able to handle the inter-city journeys too.
But is this achievable or affordable, especially when Government spending is being cut back to deal with the deficit.
“For dynamic in-motion charging, where charging pads are set into roads at regular intervals to allow drivers to charge their cars on the move, we calculate that it would only add about 6% to the total cost of a motorway,” says Thomson.
HaloIPT envisages a two-stage roll-out, with stage one focusing on stationary charging pads, which can be set into car parks, taxi ranks or used at home. The second stage would involve in-motion charging.
“This second stage is realistically about 10 years away, but we already have pilot projects of stationary charging running and more are planned for next year, so this is very much a reality,” says Thomson.
David Martell, chief executive of the Electric Car Corporation, concluded: “Wireless charging using HaloIPT technology will not only offer an EV driver a robust alternative to cable charging at home, but also has the potential to bring a range of new opportunities to both the driver and the EV industry in the future.”
HaloIPT is a start-up company pioneering the development and production of Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) technology for the transportation sector.
The company was founded in 2010 by the New Zealand-based research and development commercialisation company UniServices, Trans Tasman Commercialisation Fund (TTCF)and by the global design consultancy firm Arup.
HaloIPT co-founder UniServices developed and operated the world’s first wireless electric bus in 1996 in New Zealand and subsequently provided the technology to implement IPT charging for electric buses, with two fleets of 40 buses based in Turin and Genoa, in Italy, and more recently in the Netherlands.