In the world of electric vehicles, the “depth of discharge” of batteries is a key concept in understanding their real capacity and durability.
Induction systems could well be the future of electric car recharging systems. Already present in the kitchens of your home or in wireless chargers for your cell phone, they could soon become a reality in the form of wireless chargers for your car. Induction chargers are the future.
What is an induction charger? A wireless charger
The simple definition of an induction charger might be that it’s a wireless charger. It’s a device or system that allows you to charge a battery without having to plug in cables.
In the automotive field, this means that it is no longer necessary to plug in the charger to recharge the car.
What is electromagnetic induction?
The induction charger works on the same physical principle as the induction stove in your home.
An electric charge moving in an electric circuit generates a magnetic field around it.
In turn, a magnetic field moving around another electric circuit generates an electric charge in the circuit.
How does an induction charger work?
An induction charger is an electrical circuit in the form of a coil – or a coiled wire if we explain it simply – through which an electrical charge flows when it’s plugged into the mains.
The charge receiver is also a coil or wire wound inside the device to be charged.
Electricity flowing through the charger coil generates a magnetic field. If the receiver – the car or cell phone – is nearby, this magnetic field interacts with the charger coil, generating an electrical charge in the receiver. This charge reaches the battery and is stored. This is how an induction charger works.
Where does an induction charger have to be to work?
Since the magnetic field generated by the induction charger interacts with the car’s receiving coil, the induction charger must be integrated in a location close to the car’s coil.
For example, if we have a parking space, the induction charger should be placed in the center of the parking space. This way, when we enter our parking space, the car can be recharged automatically. With a basic identification system, we wouldn’t even need to do anything to start charging, but it could be fully automated.
Of course, where there are already public wired chargers, there could be wireless chargers, like in shopping malls, which would work in the same way as wired chargers, but without having to be plugged into the car.
Other future options that have been proposed concern the installation of induction chargers in municipal parking lots. These chargers could be installed in cities’ regulated parking zones, so that by occupying the parking space and paying the fee, we could also charge the car’s battery. And all this without having to make the charging devices visible and exposed to vandalism.
In the future, we could also see electrified roads where the vehicle recharges its battery along the way.
Disadvantages of induction charging for cars
Any transfer of electricity implies not being able to transfer 100% of the energy from source to destination. This is already the case with wired charging, hence the importance of buying quality cables and connectors.
However, in the case of wireless charging, where electrical energy is used to generate a magnetic field which in turn must interact with the receiver’s electrical circuits, energy transfer is more complex.
We’ll never get the wireless charging speed we have with wired charging, and that’s important in a scenario where it’s essential to charge the car as quickly as possible.
Can we achieve sufficient charging speed? Yes, but we can forget about the fast charging figures obtained with wired charging.
Manufacturers should get their act together
On the other hand, a common framework for charging systems also needs to be established. Cell phone manufacturers use the Qi standard. Even Apple uses the same system for its iPhones. We would need something very similar in the world of cars.
Without a standard, it would be impossible to install induction chargers in public places that would be useful for all makes of car.
It seems that carmakers are finally coming to an agreement on the choice of charging socket. Collaboration from the outset would be necessary to use a common energy transfer protocol.
Can cars be upgraded?
Finally, the vast majority of cars on the market today don’t have the option of powering their batteries via a wireless charging system, which would leave this option for the cars of the future.
In the case of cell phones, where users renew their smartphones every year or two, this has not been a problem. But buying a car today so that, in four or five years’ time, it can’t use any of the wireless charging systems that have become popular is not ideal.
Everything will depend on the popularity of these systems. It will even depend on the possibility of later integrating wireless charging systems into cars that didn’t have them in the first place. But all this will depend on the evolution of the technology and the support that manufacturers give to their own vehicles. In any case, these are the obstacles that this technology poses for the future.