Wireless charge pads, solar roads offer hope

Power plays in energy market

Boston Herald | By Rick Shaffer
January 30, 2017

While the issue of climate change continues to simmer, the bottom line is that the success of moves toward non-fossil fuel power sources will be mainly decided by two factors — affordability and ease of use. Two recent developments could move us a bit closer to that reality.

The first, and currently more promising of the two, is a wireless charging pad for electric/hybrid vehicles. While numerous carmakers worldwide are working on such wireless electric chargers, this system was developed locally at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s now being tested for marketing by WiTricity Corp., a Watertown-based company, in conjunction with General Motors Co.

The charging pad uses an electro-magnetic field to recharge an electric/hybrid vehicle. Owners need merely drive onto the pad — which itself is plugged into a power source — to commence the recharging of their vehicle’s battery. The charging pad thus removes two mundane yet large concerns owners have regarding their electric/hybrid vehicles — the hassle of, or worse, forgetting to plug a charging cord into their vehicle when they return home.

Even though the recharging pads work wirelessly, WiTricity reports that its tests have shown the pads are more than 90 percent efficient, which is as good if not better than conventional plug-in car chargers. The tests are also being conducted to guarantee that the recharging pads meet the standards being set by the global automotive group, SAE International.

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