Nikola Tesla was a pioneer in the quest for creating wireless electricity transmission. He achieved a great milestone by coming up with what is now knows as the Tesla coil, through which he envisioned a world with no tangled wires passing everywhere. All in the name of connecting homes and businesses to the national grid.
Tesla’s idea was to have one tall tower transmitting power – alongside data – to people homes and offices. Users would have only required antennae to tap into the network. His plan never went past the first tower; it later fell down about a 100 years ago.
Well, researchers at the Stanford University have resurrected Tesla’s project and made another milestone improvement to mark a step further in making wireless electricity transmission a reality. The researchers can now direct electricity wirelessly towards a moving object; Tesla’s prototype wireless transmission required both the transmitter and receiver end to be stationary.
Should they (the Stanford researchers) be able to scale their prototype, then we will soon see electric cars charge while in motion. There will be virtually no need for stopping for a charge station neither will there be a concern for EV battery range. This development could easily see electricity become the standard fuel for vehicles worldwide.
In an interview with Stanford News, Shanhui Fan, an author of the study and professor of electrical engineering at the University, said: “We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more.”
The researchers’ transmission was much less compared to the power it would take to power an electric car. However, the amount of power they transmitted wirelessly was within the halfway enough to power such a vehicle. They are also confident that they can scale up their prototype and transmit enough power wirelessly to power a car.
Their prototype works because of the electricity coursing through wires, which in turn create an oscillating magnetic field. That field caused nearby coil’s electrons also to oscillate, and thus transmit power wirelessly. Though the process is quite complicated; quite far from that short explanation.
If scaled up, we could see future highways built with a stretch of wires passing current, and electric vehicles running for miles after miles without ever stopping to the charge stations. Previously, the main challenge with wireless electricity transmission had been directing that energy towards a moving target. This team of researchers has overcome that challenge by using a feedback resistor and voltage amplifier system that automatically detects where the energy should be pointing towards without human intervention.
“In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge. The hope is that you’ll be able to charge your electric car while you’re driving down the highway. A coil in the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road,” said Fan.