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ORNL announces big leap in wireless charging for electric vehicles

written by Knoxville News Sentinel.
Submitted on Friday April 1st, 2016.

Demonstration of 20kW wireless vehicle charging at ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced Thursday that it had successfully demonstrated a new 20-kilowatt wireless charging system for electric vehicles.

The lab said the charging system achieved 90 percent efficiency at three times the rate of the plug-in systems commonly used to recharge electric vehicles.

"This ability can help accelerate the adoption and convenience of electric vehicles," ORNL said in a release distributed to the news media.

The Department of Energy laboratory collaborated on technology development with Toyota, Cisco Systems, Evatran, and Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research.

Madhu Chinthavali, leader of ORNL's Power Electronic Team, said there had been tremendous progress since the "proof-of-concept" experiments were conducted a few years ago.

"We have set a path forward that started with solid engineering, design, scale-up and integration into several Toyota vehicles," Chinthavali said in a prepared statement.

"We now have a technology that is moving closer to being ready for the market."

The lab said the team achieved the world's first 20-kilowatt wireless charging system for passenger cars, using what was described as a unique architecture

ORNL's power electronics team achieved this world's first 20-kilowatt wireless charging system for passenger cars by developing a unique architecture — with multiple new technologies — over the past three years.

"For the demonstration, researchers integrated the single-converter system into an electric Toyota RAV4 equipped with an additional 10-kilowatt hour battery," the lab said.

The next goal is development of a 50-kilowatt wireless charging system, which would match the power levels of commercially available plug-in quick chargers.

"Providing the same speed with the convenience of wireless charging could increase consumer acceptance of electric vehicles and is considered a key enabler for hands-free, autonomous vehicles," the lab said.

"Higher power levels are also essential for powering larger vehicles such as trucks and buses."