The new generation of electric cars that are set to hit the market promise to help end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and clean the air. However, they are not without flaws. One particular flaw in their charging system may even make them less environmentally friendly than the most fuel efficient conventional cars.
First of all, charging an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle requires remembering to charge it when you go home. Beginning the day with a dead cell phone battery, or leaving the house without charging your laptop can cause frustration. Now imagine having to leave for work and forgetting to charge your car.
A new technology by the company Evatran, uses induction charging to automatically keep the car’s batteries at full charge. Drivers would just have to park over the base unit that is fitted to the floor and an intelligent control system in the vehicle will request charging.
The induction charging would use a coil in the base unit that creates an electromagnetic field. The coil in the vehicle would pick up
the field and convert it back into electronic current which the vehicle could store and later use. However, this does not have the same level of efficiency as plugging the car directly to the power source.
Representatives of this new technology believe the wasted energy is minimal enough, and is worth it in exchange for greater peace of mind in knowing that your car will always be charged. “We believe that our system will eliminate a barrier to electric vehicle adoption and increase the adoption of electrified transport,” says Rebecca Hough, Evatran’s marketing director.
Others believe that the wasted energy of induction charging negates the most positive aspect of electric vehicles, that they are environmentally friendly. This is especially true if the power source produces high pollution like a coal-fired power plant. Compared to efficient diesel-engine cars on the road today, plug-in vehicles may be only slightly better. However, with a ten percent loss in efficiency from induction charging, the scales could tip towards the efficient diesel engine.
On the other hand, this new technology may be a blessing in disguise. For prospective buyers, having an automatic induction charging system may be a major selling point which could boost electric vehicle sales. With more electric vehicle owners, the attention would turn to how these vehicles get their power. Then perhaps there would be a greater public demand for renewable energy such as wind or solar. With renewable sources, the ten percent drop in efficiency would then be much less of a concern.
Article by David A. Gabel, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.