In the future, your electric car will suck electricity from the grid wirelessly, like a giant ‘lectric catfish slurpin’ power off the floor of the high-voltage seas. Fulton Innovation showed off a mega-size version of its wireless eCoupled Induction charging system at CES this year. The system was bolted to a Tesla Roadster, which happily hoovered up the juice on the show r0om floor—without wires.
Wireless electromagnetic induction charging uses the magic of magnetism. Actually, all motors and generators do, too. You see, if you run current through a wire, it’ll generate a magnetic field. Likewise, if you move a wire through an electric field, current will flow through the wire. The eCoupled system sends juice into an electromagnet, which generates a wicked-strong magnetic field. That field flows in and around an inverter (think of it as the wire). Voila! Electricity is transmitted wirelessly.
The bolt-on eCoupled system is surprisingly efficient, only 16 percent less efficient than a plug-in system. If Tesla integrated the system into the roadster at the factory, only seven percent would be lost.
Why would you want wireless charging, anyway? If you live in a city, chances are you don’t have a garage. That makes charging up your electric car nearly impossible. Sure, a company (or the city) could install curb-side charging stations, but that would be ugly and vulnerable to vandalism. Wireless systems like this one could be buried under parking spaces, which means you could just park your electric car and forget about it.
Fulton Innovation says that the test system runs on 110 volts and takes a crushing 50 hours to fully charge the roadster. The production system will run on 240 volts, slashing charge-up time drastically. When will that be? Fulton Innovation plans to have the system ready for market within a few years.