No Charging Station? No Sweat!

This will be my last post for the series on Electric Cars. A lot have been said about the importance of infrastructure for electric vehicles to be successful. Availability of charging facilities is probably the number one concern for electric vehicle owners. Several models have been proposed and implemented to provide as many charging stations as possible for electric car owners. These range from government funding to provide charging stations throughout the nation, to car manufacturers providing their own charging network such as what Nissan and Tesla are currently doing.

In my opinion, the more charging stations, the merrier. Government, car manufacturing companies and other private enterprises must ban together to provide as many charging stations as possible. In large countries such as the USA, Europe and Australia where people may drive hours on the highways, Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint, proposes a charge station for every 50 to 75 miles of road. That increases the complexity of implementing an effective nationwide charging network for its citizens.

The good news is, despite the roadblocks, countries like France, Norway and lately China and Scotland have made the decision to ban the sale of petroleum as early as 2025, paving the way for 100% electric vehicles on the road. What is more encouraging, scientists are devising alternative charging technologies that may even replace charging stations in the future. Following are two such technologies that I have come across.

Wired Up Roads – Magnetic Induction Charging

Korea, UK and Israel have been testing wired up roads that charge cars as the cars drive over them.

UK Charging Roads

These roads will charge cars as they drive, CNN Tech, Ivana Kottasova and Alanna Petroff, August 18, 2015

Israel Charging Roads

Israel Tests Wireless Charging Roads for Electric Vehicles, Scientific America, Abigail Fagan, May 11, 2017

Magnetic induction technology has been around for a long time. Harry Hoster, Director of Energy Lancaster and Professor of Physical Chemistry, Lancaster University, explains in his post on the Conversation:

Here’s how it works: an alternating current (AC) flows through a wire coil (the transmitter), which causes a magnetic field to switch between two directions at a high frequency. A second coil (the receiver) exposed to that magnetic fields picks up those oscillations, inducing an AC current in its own circuit, which is then used to power the car (or charges the battery in your toothbrush).

Harry Hoster
Wired-up roads will soon charge your electric car – while you’re driving, The Conversation, Harry Hoster, February 8, 2017

Solar Panoramic Glass Roofs for EVs

Another technology that I found to be currently in development makes use of solar power. Audi is partnering with Hanergy to produce thin-film solar cells in panoramic glass roofs. The project aims to increase the range of the Audi electric vehicle by using the electricity generated through the solar cells to power features in the car such as the air-conditioning system or the seat heaters. This way, power in the battery is conserved so that the car can go further.  Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement, explains that an entire roof covered in solar cells and charging the traction battery directly are plans for the future.

Audi car solar roof

Audi partners with Hanergy to develop solar panoramic glass roofs for EVs, Electric Cars Report, August 25, 2017

Imagine a fully self sufficient car that does not rely on an external source to charge. All it needs is the sun to be shining on most days. Not considering the parts that go into making a car, an electric vehicle that relies fully on solar power is as clean and environmentally friendly as a car can get. Because let us face it, electric cars that need to be charged still need electricity that is generated somewhere. And electricity in most countries are still produced largely by generators that use some sort of fuel. So perhaps, the fully solar powered electric car is the ultimate goal that car makers should be headed for.

While I have only come across 2 alternative charging technologies, I am sure there will be other ideas waiting to surface or be discovered by scientists and engineers. As an entrepreneur, scientist or engineer, I feel there is much potential for innovation. I am just thinking out loud here but what about the energy from wind around the car as it travels. Can we not harness that energy to be put to good use?

As I write these posts on electric cars, there is a growing anticipation in me for electric cars to make an impact in many more countries. There are skeptics and there are supporters but I am feeling optimistic. I will continue to keep abreast with the latest developments on electric vehicles and post them on my social media accounts. On to the next topic!


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