Volt Charged Wirelessly By Philadelphia Company

As EVs gain in popularity, so does the desire to find a way to get rid of the inconvenience of the charging wire.

Momentum Dynamics Corporation (MD) announced last week that it has successfully charged the Chevrolet Volt with its wireless charging technology at the full power capacity of the vehicle.

This is a considered by MD as a significant technical accomplishment, due to the complexity of the Volt, and a major milestone in the development of wireless charging as a crucial enabler for the widespread acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs).

The Momentum Dynamics wireless charger delivers more than 20,000 watts of power from the electrical grid to the electric vehicle, far more than can be provided by conventional Level 2 (240 volts) plug-in chargers, which are typically restricted to 3,300 watts maximum.

This higher power potentially allows greatly reduced vehicle charging times. The technology used by MD uses a simple receiving pad installed on the underside of a vehicle, and a transmitting pad placed on, or embedded into the road surface.

“Momentum Dynamics has surprised many people in the industry by the amount of power that can be safely delivered without the use of cables, and by its low cost relative to plug-in chargers,” said company CEO and co-inventor Andy Daga.

Daga also said he believes that Momentum’s technology will spur EV adoption, because future owners of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles will demand the safety and all-weather automatic operation of wireless charging at an affordable cost.

By contrast to plug-in chargers, wireless systems operate in all weather conditions. MD says they are immune to vandalism, and operate automatically.

“We do for EV charging what systems like E-ZPass have done for automated toll collection — except in this case it’s about more than reducing toll gate congestion — we are actually enabling the growth of an international industry,” said Daga.

Daga further explained that the primary emphasis of his company has been high-power wireless charging for the demanding commercial EV market. For MD, charging the Volt represents a scaling back of Momentum’s technology to the more modest power requirements of passenger EVs.

“This was a bit of a diversion for us, but we proved to the industry that wireless charging can be rather easily integrated into current production EVs. Nevertheless, our mission remains focused on the larger commercial vehicles where the economics of reducing fuel costs for fleet operators by more than 85 percent are clear and compelling,” said Daga.

The company says it has completed stringent testing on the transmitter and receiver configurations in its lab outside of Philadelphia, Pa., proving its system safe and reliable.

Several planned field trials with the participation of key strategic partners are scheduled to begin in early 2013.

According to Daga, the company expects to be providing wireless charging rates in excess of 60,000 watts (60 kw) to targeted advanced commercial electric vehicles in the coming year.