Electric vehicles (EVs) offer several advantages over gas-powered vehicles. They are quieter, produce instant torque and don’t release harmful emissions into the environment. All EVs, however, require charging.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most EVs can travel over 200 miles on a fully-charged battery. Once the battery — or the battery bank — has been depleted, the EV must be charged. But researchers are working on a new technology that will allow EVs to charge themselves while driving.
Why EVs Currently Don’t Charge Themselves
Unlike gas-powered vehicles, EVs aren’t equipped with an alternator. Gas-powered vehicles have an alternator that, during use, charges the battery. EVs don’t have an alternator.
When driving a gas-powered vehicle, the engine will typically turn a belt that’s connected to the alternator. The alternator will convert this mechanical energy into electrical energy. EVs don’t produce mechanical energy, nor do they feature an alternator. EVs still have one or more batteries, but an alternator is essentially useless to them.
Inductive Charging and EVs
Rather than plugging a charger cable into your EV, you may soon be able to charge it simply by driving. A team of researchers at Cornell University have proposed a transportation infrastructure with inductive charging. If your EV’s battery is running low, you could simply drive on one of these inductive charging roads to charge it.
Inductive charging isn’t exactly a new technology. Also known simply as wireless charging, it’s been around for many years. Smartphones, tablet computers and other electronic devices currently support inductive charging. This technology leverages electromagnetic induction to charge electronic devices wirelessly. When placed on an induction charging pad, the electronic devices will charge themselves.
Researchers are hopeful that induction charging could be applied to EVs. The team at Cornell University, for instance, want lanes dedicated to induction charging. If you’re driving on the interstate, you could switch to one of these induction charging lanes to charge your EV.
Rather than integrating inductive charging directly into roads, another option is to design charging pads for EVs — similar to those used for smaller electronic devices. In the future, you may be able to park your EV on a charging pad in your garage. The charging pad would then charge your EV wirelessly.
Whether or not inductive charging makes its way to the EV sector remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it holds promise for the ever-increasing number of EV owners.