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20 kW Wireless Charging System Has Tremendous Potential

As far as electric vehicle wireless charging goes, the best we could do until now was the Plugless Power aftermarket system. But charging at 7.2 kilowatts translates to an entire night of charging, which is too long for some people. Wireless charging at 20 kilowatts, on the other hand, is a faster solution.
20 kW wireless charging system 1 photo
Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
After the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has achieved 90 percent efficiency from it, the 20-kilowatt wireless charging system could soon go into production. “We have made tremendous progress from the lab proof-of-concept experiments a few years ago,” explained Madhu Chinthavali, ORNL Power Electronics team leader. “We have set a path forward that started with solid engineering, design, scale-up and integration into several Toyota vehicles.”

And yes, this technology is inching closer to being ready for the market. The first 20-kilowatt wireless charging system for passenger cars employs a unique architecture that includes in-house developed bits and bobs such as the inverter, isolation transformer, vehicle-side electronics, and coupling technology. OK, so it is a lot slower than the best DC fast charging has to offer. But think about the system this way: getting 30 miles of range in 30 minutes of wireless charging. It doesn’t sound that bad after all, does it?

Better still, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is looking towards the future already. ORNL researchers are looking ahead to 50-kilowatt wireless charging. The thing is, advancing the system to such a power level prompted the researchers to take safety into consideration more than ever before. “The high-frequency magnetic fields employed in power transfer across a large air gap are focused and shielded,” Chinthavali said. “This means that magnetic fringe fields decrease rapidly to levels well below limits set by international standards, including inside the vehicle, to ensure personal safety.” No worries here, then.

What the ORNL has proved with its 20-kilowatt wireless charging system is that the future is happening as we speak and the technology is closer to market than ever. Furthermore, the technology demonstrated in the video attached below is a stepping stone toward the all-electric wonderland of tomorrow.

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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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