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Canada: UBC researchers develop wireless recharging station for electric cars

The technology has been successfully tested on UBC service vehicles

A new system developed by scientists at the University of B.C. allows operators to charge their electric vehicles without plugging into an electrical outlet.

METRO VANCOUVER — University of British Columbia researchers have developed a wireless charging device for electric cars that could get more of these vehicles on the road.

The technology has been successfully tested on UBC service vehicles and given rave reviews by drivers who no longer have to wrestle with cords and sockets in often cramped conditions and bad weather.

Instead, all they have to do is drive up to one of the four charging devices installed at UBC’s building operations lot and park. The car fully recharges in four hours, roughly the same amount of time it takes with an electrical outlet. It is then good to go for eight hours.

The system can withstand all kinds of weather.

The device was developed by a team led by UBC physics Prof. Lorne Whitehead who were originally working on a system that would work with medical devices such as implanted pacemakers.

“The car opportunity came to light as maybe more exciting commercially in the shorter term,” Whitehead, who specializes in the applied use of electric and magnetic fields, said in an interview.

This new system uses remote magnetic gears to overcome the concern with previous wireless systems about potential health effects on humans from high power and high frequency electromagnetic fields.

The system developed at UBC operates at a frequency 100 times lower than other wireless systems and with negligible exposed electric fields.

Eliminating radio waves, the system uses a rotating base magnet driven by electricity and a second located within the car. The base gear remotely spins the in-car gear which in turn generates power to charge the battery.

The idea for the device came to light as so many do — through what Whitehead described as a “thought experiment” where scientists think about what might happen in certain situations.

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