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New UK study to explore feasibility for dynamic wireless charging for commercial transport

Ricardo will support a project led by Coventry City Council, working alongside electricity distribution network operator WPD, to investigate the implementation of dynamic wireless power transfer (WPT) solutions for electric vehicles in Coventry, UK. The project is funded through the Ofgem Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) mechanism.

Dynamic recharging

The study will consist of research and data modeling to assess feasibility for dynamic wireless charging in the UK and the potential for the first real-world demonstrator in the UK.

This technology allows electric vehicles to charge their batteries or be powered directly, while being driven, and would allow vehicles with demanding duty cycles to switch from petrol or diesel to being electric. This could be a game-changer as the automotive industry looks for ways to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and indicates just how important this project is.

—Denis Naberezhnykh, Technical Director at Ricardo

Ricardo will undertake the project management and technical review of the project activities and outputs on behalf of WPD, utilizing its experience in the field and providing an additional level of technical expertise and quality assurance.

It is an 11-month study that is being led by Coventry City Council with WPD and other partners including, Cenex; Coventry University; Hubject; Midlands Connect; National Express; Transport for West Midlands; and Electreon.

This project will assess the technology’s potential to support decarbonization of transport and meeting UK Net Zero targets. The study will look at developing an understanding of how this technology can be connected to the electricity network and aims to minimize network reinforcement costs, while enabling the connection of low carbon technologies to benefit our customers.

—Steven Pinkerton-Clark, WPD’s Innovation & Low Carbon Network Engineer

The results will assess the electrical impact and requirements of the technology on the distribution network, look at the feasibility of dynamic wireless charging and help forecast the uptake in Coventry and throughout the UK.

The study will also look at specific opportunities for a future demonstrator to be implemented in Coventry to demonstrate the real-world operation of the technology and how to address potential challenges.

ORNL and dynamic WPT. In the US, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are exploring dynamic wireless charging using a new test bed at the Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center (GRID-C), to evaluate the dynamic wireless charging system and to support research on how the technology will smoothly integrate into the nation’s power grid.


L-R: ORNL’s Omer Onar and Veda Galigekere with the dynamic wireless charging test bed at ORNL’s Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center. Credit: Carlos Jones, ORNL/US Dept. of Energy

Once the dynamic system undergoes full evaluation at GRID-C, it will be tested at the American Center for Mobility in Michigan.

With custom magnetic coils, silicon carbide-based power electronics, and novel controls and shielding technology to handle stray emissions, ORNL scientists have proven that their stationary WPT system can wirelessly charge both a light-duty passenger car across a six-inch airgap and a medium-duty delivery truck across an 11-inch airgap at the 20 kW level at greater than 92% power transfer efficiency—on par with a wired system. Power can even flow in both directions.

The researchers have successfully demonstrated a 120-kW wireless charging system with 97% efficiency, and are planning to install higher voltage systems, up to 270-kW, on passenger vehicles to meet or exceed the 15-minute charging goal.

Once you get to these higher power levels to enable fast charging, you especially don’t want people handling the heavy cables typically required. With wireless technology you wouldn’t have to remember to plug in your vehicle at home, and it’s always topped off. You just park it in the garage and it’s done. The same with charging pads at workplaces or at extreme-fast wireless charging stations.

Now we want to take it a step further. What if you have an EV and never have to worry about having enough of a charge to go anywhere you like? We can accomplish that with dynamic wireless charging.

—Burak Ozpineci, who heads ORNL’s Vehicle and Mobility Systems Research Section

ORNL’s dynamic charging goal is for a 200-kW system that can quickly charge vehicles at highway speeds.

A key development in the evolution of the ORNL wireless tech was the creation of a polyphase magnetic coil coupling design that allows for much higher power density in smaller coils. The design encompasses a three-phase system that features rotating magnetic fields between layers of coils.

Even at the 300-kW level, the ORNL coil design has a much smaller footprint than currently available wireless charging technology due to that higher surface power density. The ground-based coil is about the size of an extra-large pizza, while the coil on the car is about the size of a small or medium pizza, said Omer Onar, who leads the lab’s Vehicle Power Electronics Research Group.


Another important challenge in the work is resolving the issue of stray electromagnetic emissions around the coils. ORNL is developing advanced shielding technology to control those emissions and the heat they can produce. The solution uses nano-crystalline materials together with aluminum to create a magnetic-metallic hybrid shielding technology that dampens emissions. The technology has been validated up to the 50-kW level already, Onar said.



If it works at good efficiency and reasonable cost for in installation, a fine alternative perhaps for major highways.

I am a bit sceptical though as to whether the installed cost will allow for smaller batteries, so reducing costs and imposing less strain on materials supplies.

Similar considerations might apply to those for railroads, where line electrification is only economic for very heavily traveled routs, and otherwise hydrogen FCEV trains are becoming the go to option.

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