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Argonne Highlights Sustainability Research during Earth Day Fair

Talk about efficient: In the not-too-distant future, drivers might be able to power up their electric cars on the go just by rolling over charging pads implanted in the asphalt at stoplights.

Argonne National Laboratory highlighted this and other sustainable energy research Tuesday at its annual Earth Day celebration that featured displays from more than half a dozen Argonne scientists.

The charging pads that Argonne researchers envision would function like large-scale wireless charging mats for devices such as iPhones and BlackBerrys. They could make their way into our roads as soon as three to five years from now, said Purdue University grad student Hina Chaudhry, who’s doing doctoral research at Argonne.

Hybrid cars such as the Chevy Volt have a fuel efficiency equivalent to 93 miles per gallon when running on electric power. The caveat is the battery will only serve as the sole power source for about 36 miles.

But in the future, Chaudhry said that low mile range won’t be a problem. “As electric cars become more popular with consumers, they won’t find it hard to charge their vehicles,” she said.

In addition to the charging pads, she said Argonne is also developing pay-per-charge power stations that drivers of electric cars would use much like a present-day gas pump.

The lab’s Life-Cycle Analysis Team is also working on what to do with all those electric car batteries once they die.


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