E-Mobility & E-fuels

Sustainable alternatives series: Cutting the Cord: Unlocking the Great Potential of Wireless Innovation

posted on 8/30/2023
street at night with car lights in motion

It sounds amazing: electric cars can be charged anywhere, while parked in appropriate parking spaces and even while driving. Several projects around the world show where the journey is heading – inductive charging should help electromobility achieve a breakthrough. In this article, we will look into the world of wireless charging and show the potential for revolutionising the future of mobility.

Charge the vehicle like a smartphone or electric toothbrush – simply by magnet without cables. Several universities, companies and start-ups around the world are researching this. Promising model projects show what is already possible. Thanks to the new technology, the roads should become cleaner, quieter, climate-neutral – and electrified.

The vision is clear – the range of a trip should not be limited by annoying charging stops. Pilot projects in Italy, Sweden and northern Bavaria account for the enormous progress made in research. In Italy, for example, the construction of a 1 km long test track has already been completed. The total output is 1,000 kilowatts of direct current. The so-called "Arena del Futuro" between Brescia and Milan serves as a test track for Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT), which means wireless charging. Tests are showing that the efficiency of the test track is comparable to the typical efficiency of fast charging stations, so the driver does not need to stop to recharge.

Power Everywhere, Anytime: Unveiling the Vision of Dynamic Wireless Charging
Modern technology makes it possible to transmit electrical energy wirelessly from a power source to a "receiver". Unlike traditional wireless charging technologies based on induction or resonance, DWPT uses a combination of electromagnetic waves and microwaves to transmit energy. The signal is split into small packets to ensure efficient transmission.

When a car drives on such a road, the magnetic field induces a high-frequency voltage in the installed counter coil under the vehicle and charges the battery. In principle, all types of vehicles can be equipped with DWPT-receiving coils.

The new charging technology increases the range of electric motors, conserves their batteries, and secures battery charge. Cars, trucks, and buses no longer must stop to charge their batteries at docking stations. This saves time.

Inspiring Success: Test Track on Gotland Serves as a Role Model for Sustainable Transportation Projects
The DWPT test track in Italy was preceded by a pilot project on the island of Gotland in Sweden. There, an approximately 1.6 km stretch of road was rebuilt into a wireless charging station that supplies a bus with inductive power. For this purpose, there are 1.5-metre-long copper coils underneath the asphalt, which supply power to three receiver coils.

However, DWPT is still in the development phase. The cost of installing the coils is still quite high. But there are more and more projects, such as in the German city of Balingen. Like Gotland, an electric bus has recently been tested here. In the future, the route will become one kilometre long.   

Revolutionising Road Travel with Charging-on-the-Go on Bavaria's Test Track
Moreover, charging while driving has already set off in Germany. From mid-2025, drivers of electric cars in northern Bavaria will also be able to experiment with charging on electrified roads. Here, a test track is being built as part of the EMPOWER project under the direction of the Chair of Factory Automation and Production Systems (FAPS) at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Together with partners from the industry and Nuremberg University of Applied Sciences, the chair wants to make the technology ready for series production.

On the test track, vehicles are to be charged inductively when driving and parking. An important step on the way there is the integration of wireless Electric Road System ⟮ERS⟯ technology on a 1 km section of the motorway. ERS is an innovative solution for the transport sector that makes it possible to charge electric vehicles while driving.

This allows electric vehicles to travel longer distances without having to stop at a charging station. DWPT is a similar technology, but it does not require a physical connection between the vehicle and the power source. The aim of the Nuremberg students is to further advance the development and production of electrified roads for electric vehicles on local motorways. Soon, the world's leading development centre for the electrification of roads is to be built here.

Driving Towards Innovation: Inductive Road Redefine Electric Vehicle Charging Landscape
Inductive roads, also known as wireless charging roads, offer a promising solution for charging electric vehicles while driving. They utilise electromagnetic fields to transfer power wirelessly from the road infrastructure to the vehicle, eliminating the need for conventional charging stations.

In conclusion, while inductive roads offer the convenience of charging electric vehicles while driving, there are still challenges to overcome regarding cost, efficiency, and standardisation. Continued research, development, and collaboration among industry stakeholders are necessary to fully realise the potential of inductive road technology.

Portrait of Claudia Bauer, International Marketing Communications Manager

Claudia Bauer

International Marketing, Communications Manager

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