WiTricity, the MIT spin-off commercializing strongly coupled magnetic resonance wireless charging technology for EVs as well as consumer devices, industrial, medical and military applications (earlier post), has work underway to deliver wireless charging systems capable of delivering 10s of kilowatts for plug-ins, compared to the current 3.3 or 6.6 kW, says CEO Alex Gruzen.
In addition to its ongoing work on the technology, WiTricity has been steadily tuning its executive suite over the past few months, starting with the naming of Gruzen as CEO in April. Gruzen succeeded Eric Giler who, in his five-plus year term as CEO, successfully established WiTricity’s business foundation and commercial capabilities. Giler remains a member of the WiTricity Board of Directors. Gruzen earlier served in senior management roles at Dell, HP, Compaq and Sony.
Subsequently, WiTricity hired Farooq Butt, who served most recently as VP of Worldwide Business Development and Strategy for Dell’s End User Solutions group, as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Strategy; and just last week added Donald R. Peck as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who most recently served as EVP, CFO and Treasurer of Lojack Corporation.
The executive suite changes occur as WiTricity continues to land more funding ($25 million last year, earlier post), and to expand further its key partnerships, which, in the automotive space, now include Delphi (earlier post); Toyota (earlier post); IHI and Mitsubishi Motors (earlier post); and TDK (earlier post).
WiTricity’s technology is based on sharply resonant strong coupling, and is able to transfer power efficiently even when the distances between the power source and capture device are several times the size of the devices themselves.
WiTricity’s technology is a non-radiative mode of energy transfer, relying instead on the magnetic near field. WiTricity proprietary source and device units are specially designed magnetic resonators that efficiently transfer power over large distances via the magnetic near-field. The magnetic field can wrap around a conductive obstacle between the power source and the capture device.
The power transfer efficiency of a WiTricity solution depends on the relative sizes of the power source and capture devices, and on the distance between the devices. Maximum efficiency is achieved when the devices are relatively close to one another, and can exceed 95%.
One of the things WiTricity has been doing since the first public disclosure back in 2005 and then the formal formation in 2007 is taking this core of technology of magnetic resonance and applying it into practice. We started out with big 3-foot wide cooper coils. From 2005 to today, we’ve come a long way. There are tailored solutions that can move milliwatts at very low cost—compact and inexpensive to implement— all the way to throwing kilowatts into EVs.
In addition to the 3.3 kW system [the power level of charging EVs] we also have a 6.6 kW solution. And we have work underway to to go to 10s of kilowatts. It’s a broadly applicable technology. As the cost [of batteries] comes down, and the size grows, right in parallel, we are going to higher and higher power transfer. We just march in lock step with industry development.—Alex Gruzen
Gruzen suggests that widespread wireless charging—including interoperable public infrastructure—is particularly interesting for plug-in hybrids.
The convenience is extraordinary. In many of these vehicles, the battery is relatively smaller. At every point today with a plug-in hybrid, you are presented with a choice of when I pull in to the garage, do I plug in now or not plug in now. When the batteries are smaller [as in plug-in hybrids], you are not getting all the fuel economy benefit if the battery is not fully charged. The relative value for the plug-in hybrid is the easy topping off of the battery. I feel like there is [potentially] a real catalyst for dramatically improving the core user experience.—Alex Gruzen
|WiT-3300 components. Click to enlarge.|
WiT-3300 Development Kit. For plug-in vehicle applications, WiTricity currently is offering to its partners the WiT-3300 Development Kit—a wireless “park-and-charge” system that provides efficient wireless energy transfer.
The WiT-3300 system is designed to charge at the same 3.3kW charge rate as many wired chargers and at efficiencies up to 90%. The WiT-3300 supports charging with ground clearances ranging from 10-20 cm, and custom configurations can be provided for vehicles having higher or lower clearances. Wireless energy transfer can occur through any non-metallic material, which means that the source device can be installed beneath a garage floor or paved parking space.
With the WiT-3300, energy transfer system does not require the source and capture resonator pairs to be perfectly aligned in order to achieve efficient energy transfer. In addition, the strongly coupled magnetic resonance energy transfer provides products which are 4x smaller, 2x lighter, and more efficient than solutions based on traditional magnetic induction.
Available as options for the WiT-3300 Development Kit, the WiTricity WiT-3300 Foreign Object Detection (FOD) and WiT-3300 Live Object Detection (LOD) systems help ensure the safe operation of WiT-3300 electric vehicle (EV) charging systems.
FOD System: Built directly into the WiT-3300 R2.3 source resonator enclosure, the WiTricity FOD system senses the presence of metallic foreign objects and debris that could be affected during charging, and enables the intelligent shutdown of the charging system before these objects can be heated by the system’s magnetic field.
LOD System: Built as a perimeter sensor for the WiT-3300 source resonator, the WiTricity LOD sensor senses the presence of humans or animals that intrude into a detection zone around the source, and enables the automatic shutdown of the charging system.