Electricity Without Walls

Have you dreamt about a world where you don’t need to carry dozens of chargers for different gadgets or where your electric car may just be charged wirelessly while parked.

Ever since Nicolas Tesla tried to prove the possibility of wireless power transmission between continents with his Wardenclyffe Tower in 1901 [1], it has been the subject of much research.

Wireless electricity transfer already exists in our every day life, for example in electric toothbrushes and universal mobile phone charging mats. These use magnetic induction but it’s highly inefficient and it only acts on a very short distance.

Technologies for longer distance wireless electricity transfer include lasers or microwaves, which have been also reviewed for solar power satellites to send energy by beaming it to the Earth.

There are already products with this technology available, mainly in the consumer electronics section. Some examples are Haier’s wireless HDTV or Sony’s Bravia LCD TV, that allow people to place the TVs anywhere they want inside the house, without worrying where the closest socket is.

Research

Many companies as well as universities have been working on the improvement of wireless energy transmission.

In 2008 Intel showcased its Wireless Resonant Energy Link (WREL) technology, using magnetic resonance for transferring power and lighting a 60W light bulb with the power from the source that was three feet away. The advantage of this solution shall be mobility, as it works on greater distances than currently used methods. In the future these coils could be embedded anywhere (for instance gadgets and devices in the homes), while providing increased efficiency.

Also, in 2007 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) a project called WiTricity was conducted on wireless energy transfer. Later a spin-off company was founded based on the research, and today it operates with several commercial partners – amongst others with an investment from Toyota. Their technology is ideal for medium-range power transfer, and already offers a very high 95 per cent efficiency.

The Business Segment

Besides WiTricity there are several companies interested in wireless energy transmission. An industry organisation, the Wireless Power Consortium [11] already has more than 90 members, including France Telecom, Haier, HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, or Sony-Ericsson. It focuses on introducing an international standard for compatible wireless charging stations.

The Future

For more than a hundred years researchers were trying to develop the feasible solution for transferring energy wirelessly. Nowadays the majority of households have wireless Internet connection, so wireless power may only be one step forward. And with so many companies working on it, it may be closer than one would think.

[1] BBC Focus Magazine, Issue 233, September 2011, “Electric Dreams”, Paul Parsons, page 64-67

 

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

 

 

 

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One Comment to “Electricity Without Walls”

  1. I really like your writing style, good info , thankyou for posting : D.

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