Wireless In-Road Charging Under Development At Clemson University

NOV 15 2015 BY MARK KANE 18

An electric vehicle receives a wireless charge at ITIC.

An electric vehicle receives a wireless charge at ITIC.

Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ITIC, Toyota, Cisco, Duke Energy and Evatran, developed a stationary wireless power transfer test bed.

For the first phase of the project, ICAR uses Toyota electric cars – Scion iQ EV.

The prototype of wireless charging was capable of transferring 6.9 kW at 85+ percent efficiency.

“The test bed has been part of a major collaborative R&D initiative that recently passed a formal project review by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The ITIC facility becomes one of the first operating wireless charging test beds in the U.S., where entities may use its capabilities as an R&D service. Entities can do this without a business partner that has previously researched new wireless charging technology and services.

This achievement opens the door for ITIC to begin marketing wireless charging test and development services to automotive manufacturers, suppliers and related technology companies. It also allows program collaborators to move forward with the next project phase: the testing of wireless charging of moving electric vehicles (dynamic or in-motion wireless charging). Those tests will begin later this fall in a program directed by CU-ICAR at ITIC.

The first test demonstrated wireless power transfer systems integrated into two different Toyota vehicle models. One of the vehicles was tested at a power transfer rate of 6.9 kilowatts and achieved an overall efficiency of greater than 85 percent. The systems tested used wireless power transfer technology developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and communication tools developed in collaboration with Cisco.

The wireless power transfer project development started in 2013 after Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) received an $8.1 million grant from the Department of Energy. ORNL subcontracted CU-ICAR to develop the grid-side and vehicle-side communication system for wireless charging, and researched the potential impact of electromagnetic fields.

CU-ICAR partnered with ITIC to develop a physical test bed to support the testing of the vehicle and infrastructure interaction during the wireless charging process.

The Virginia-based company Evatran integrated the coil systems and power electronics components developed by ORNL into the test vehicles provided by Toyota. CU-ICAR and Cisco collaborated on the development of the communication radios, both in the vehicles and on the roadside. Duke Energy provided the grid connectivity and the power supply infrastructure. CU-ICAR guided ITIC in the layout and design of the physical test bed, and in the development and monitoring of the test procedures.”

The second stage is in-road dynamic wireless charging – Dynamic Wireless Charging (DWC), which could soften energy draw from the battery and increase range.

Dynamic charging is much more complicated, so the first goal is to develop a system for EVs moving at speeds lower than 35 mph.

“…a built-out option already has been identified on a mile-long straightaway road segment to test dynamic wireless charging at higher speeds. The ITIC test bed has been prepared to also support higher power levels of up to 250 kilowatts.”

Categories: Charging

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18 Comments on "Wireless In-Road Charging Under Development At Clemson University"

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We finally have footage of the iQ EV, after all thus time!

Well it seems that Toyota is involved in all costly, inefficient solutions that aim to keep us captive of networks instead of simply recharging batteries at home from the free eternally renewable clean sun.

Batteries are always getting more range and more quick recharge from year to year. There is NO other better solution… except for big cartel$.

Yeah! Toyota will soon offer the worlds first “HydrogenWirelessRangeExtendedPlugIn Hybrid Synergy Drive!”:

It will have the following specs:
-battery size: 2kWh
-fuel cell with half-full-tank-feature
-wireless charging at 85% and 6kW to save some hydrogen
-a 2-cylinder gasoline REX with a 3 gallon tank and that will also work when it gets cold or gasoline in the tank gets old

Toyota salesman: “With this approach we combine the best of 4 worlds! Our customers will be able to refill half of their tank at 44 hydrogen stations worldwide, on our 2 mile pilot-wireless-charging-lane located in no-mans-land, recharge the 2kWh really fast, or just use the existing gasoline infrastructure!”

“I am Akio Toyoda and I approved this message.”

Haha, my wife is from Greenville, SC (ICARs location) and Clemson grad. I will let her know that it is “no-mans land”.

Sniping aside, maybe this would be better in the long run? You have a 100 mile capacity EV, and for long trips you can still use it, as it charges while on the highway system. Maybe better than trying to install super chargers along the highway system?

Then you don’t carry around a lot of battery you don’t need 90% of the time.

In theory it is a great solution, the only obstacles are having the technology actually work and funding to re-lay thousands of miles of highway to make it a useful solution.

We can’t even get 50 kW DCQC infrastructure installed because of cost, how would this ever get paid for?

I do see a future use for stationary wireless charging down the road. Once cars are legally allowed to drive themselves, auto-valet parking combined with wireless charging would be a great combo.

i.e. drop me off at the restaurant, then go find a place to charge and be ready to pick me up when I call, thanks Kit.

In theory a good solution … the economic reality is a real constraint from two aspects.
1. It only makes economic sense to electrify roadways with higher volumes of EVs
2. How many EVs can a mile of road support at once. ie: a high volume road, or a road that becomes a parking lot due to congestion. (Do all EV have access to power all the time, or is energy managed dynamically?)

In theory, demonstration with one, or few EVs is easily; but how will charging me managed once 10%, or 20% of traffic are EVs?
Note: while in-road charging may be impractical for passenger EVs, the fixed routes and limited fleet size used for public bus transportation may be a suitable application.

Brian_Henderson said:

“while in-road charging may be impractical for passenger EVs, the fixed routes and limited fleet size used for public bus transportation may be a suitable application.”

There are various reasons why in-road chargers make more sense for bus routes than for powering ordinary passenger cars. These reasons include buses stopping frequently at bus stops, and travel frequently restricted to bus lanes.

But even so, for those cities which have installed in-road chargers for city buses, there is already a trend developing to move away from that system to buses with larger battery packs which are charged at the end of the route.

As with hydrogen fueled cars, there’s nothing wrong with experimentation. What is madness, what is wasteful, what is counterproductive, is when there is an attempt to move from the experiments — experiments which have clearly shown the impracticality of such systems — to actually wasting taxpayer dollars on trying to build out such a system, despite the fact that prototypes and test systems have clearly shown the absolute impracticality!

I personally would not want to be in a car while it is wireless charging with 6 to 8 kilowatts of power flowing in from the highway into the bottom of the car. The trouble is that it would create a large electromagnetic field which could cause cancer or do some type of nerve damage over time. I would suport wireless charging if it was in a place like a parking space or at a quick charger were no one is around the car when it is charging.

The reason why I mention this is that people make a big deal about electromagnetic waves around high voltage lines and in a sense a wireless car charging might be like this.

Well Ocean Railroader, here’s my two cents on safety. 1). Wireless charging in a substantially either ferrous or aluminum car should be reasonably safe inside it – although I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the charging pad outside the car. 2). The current is usually only several hundred amperes around high-tension lines – although Electrostatic effects on Very High Voltage lines, and corona effects (preportional to frequency, so a bit of a concern at 60 cycles per second) are a bit of a concern.. Such as the cases you hear of a 345 kv line burning down the roof of some barn. 3). Some children show extreme sensitivity to VHF and UHF (wifi frequencies) radiation. This is of course exacerbated in school, where they might have dozens of wifi computers in the same room, each communicating with high-power repeaters in the ceiling. Practical amelioration at home would be not having the router in the same room as the kids and certainly not in the same room they sleep in, and definitely not having the kid go to sleep for 8 hours with the smart phone in his ear, since radiation damage certainly follows an inverse – square law. The… Read more »

Now as far as transmitting electromagnetic radiation is concerned you are right to be concerned about ‘transmission line-effects’ on high tension lines.

Assuming a 1500 mile line (granted, this is amoungst the largest they ever use – longer lines are DC since resonance effects on ac lines start becoming too unwieldy), if it is carrying around 900 amps, then you have an ‘unintentional’ very-low-frequency transmitter with a power level around 50 megawatts. Assuming the line is carrying around 550 megawatts then it is a reasonable 9% transmitting loss, which is quite low when you consider the distance. Other losses at this distance are much higher, but the point is some energy is Lost radiating out into space. The loss at this high current works out to 6 watts per foot. Of course, you are not THAT close to transmission lines even if they are in back of your house, but the point is that when they are heavily loaded, they are ‘transmitting’ whether you realize it or not.

Kosh asked:

“Sniping aside, maybe this would be better in the long run?”

No, for the following reasons:

1. Stationary charging needs only one charge point per EV, or at most two (one at home, one at a public charge point). “On the fly” charging would require one every… what, hundred feet or so on the roads? So that comes to hundreds or thousands of chargers per EV. No way will that ever be affordable.

2. The 85% charge efficiency cited in the article is maximum efficiency, and only applies when the car is directly over the charger. With on the fly charging, the average efficiency will be considerably lower.

I’d say it’s a toss-up as to whether on-the-fly charging for passenger cars, or hydrogen fuel, is the more futile and counterproductive technological pursuit.

Only 85% efficient? That is very poor. Most electrics can go further than most drivers need or they can buy a higher cost Tesla that can even cover long trips with their Super Changers every 100 miles across the USA. I’m not impressed by this expensive low efficiency solution.

It’s annoying to see public money (DoE) wasted on this kind of research. No matter what efficiency is achieved, it’s clearly economically infeasible to do large-scale in-road charging (I shudder to think of the cost in annual maintenance such systems would incur in places with regular freezing/refreexing climes, like the eastern US), and will remain so at least until BEVs are the vast majority of cars.

Any further research in this area is ~20 years premature.

Municipal buses are a completely different thing entirely; noone’s talking in-road chargers there, rather, rooftop chargers at one or two points mid-route, to give the bus a boost to last until the final terminal. It’s a lot more localized as a solution (can be done in one, or part of one, city irrespective of any other), and the economic analysis is much simpler.

Maybe they could address your “impractical” objection by incorporating inductive on-the-fly charging into the Solar Roads proposal? Actually it’s amazing they haven’t done that yet, I think there is already an optional toaster and bread-slicer.


You know, this and solar roadways _would_ be a good match… I’ve since come to the conclusions that they are actual scammers, not just misguided.

While you were jokingm they’re actually trying to hitch on the EV bandwagon as well..

I guess a few dollars here could be a waste, the DOD needs more money for those 2000 F35s at $300 million each.