CES 2011: Look Ma, No Cord! Fulton Innovation Shows Off Wireless Charging for Electric Cars

Fulton Innovation Tesla Wirelessly Charging

If you’ve gone shopping for mobile phone accessories recently, you’ve probably seen or heard about Powermat, an Israeli company that sells electronic pads capable of charging electrical devices wirelessly. Do they use sorcery? No, it’s something called inductive charging, which utilizes an electromagnetic field to allow electrons to “jump” a short distance from the pad to the receiver attached to the phone, MP3 player or whatever it is you’re recharging.

That’s pretty slick, yes, but would it be possible to scale it up to charge a bigger electrical device? Like, for example, a car? Turns out the answer is yes, and GM is already collaborating with Powermat on a system for wirelessly charging the Chevrolet Volt. Meanwhile, Fulton Innovation, one of Powermat’s rivals, is also working on a wireless vehicle charging system, and actually showed off the prototype seen here charging a Tesla Roadster at CES in Las Vegas.

Fulton Innovation Tesla Wirelessly Charging

Marketed as part of its new range, this prototype vehicle charger consists of two components. The pad on the ground sends power to a coil mounted underneath the Tesla’s nose, and from the coil the current passes through an AC/DC converter, along a cable that is routed under and through the car before emerging from one of the cooling ducts on the rear quarter panels and plugging in to the stock charging port (seen above). Hey, it is a prototype, so cut ‘em some slack on the sloppy aesthetics.

It’s worth noting that one of the main disadvantages of wireless charging is a slight loss in efficiency relative to a physical connection, but that deficit is reduced (as is the recharge time) as voltage is increased. Also, Fulton reps say a production system would eliminate the converter, further increasing the efficiency to an estimated 89% (as opposed to 96% for a cord). Finally, a smartphone app would let you monitor the progress of the charging process remotely.

Fulton Innovation Tesla Wirelessly Charging

Imagine going to the mall and parking your car with half a charge left in an inductive charger-equipped space. After a few hours of shopping you return and find the battery almost completely replenished. That’s just one of the possibilities this technology opens up. You can bet we’ll be watching to see how this concept evolves in the coming years.

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Source: Fulton Innovation



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