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Transportation China Power

How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech 49

An anonymous reader writes With the first ever season of Formula E revving up in China next month, it's clear there's more to electric cars than Tesla. But the race cars hitting the track in Beijing don't have anything on the speed of Drayson Racing Technology's Lola B12 69/EV, which holds the record for the world's fastest lightweight electric car, and which uses the kind of power technologies that could one day have applications off the track too—like charging your phone wirelessly.
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How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech

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  • >which uses the kind of power technologies that could one day have applications off the track too—like charging your phone wirelessly.

    So the only things that concenrs you is that it might charge your phone wireleslly in the future. That Outer Limits eposide where eveyone is connected to the net is pretty much here add it 1984 and could make for a good flick I can priate on pirate bay when it comes out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @04:06AM (#47782473)

    Let's do the numbers: if you want this 30 kWh battery charged in one hour (you're in a race, remember?) you'll have to supply 30 kW. At an efficiency of 80% (TFA -- I know, I know) you're looking at losses of 30 * (1/.8 -1) kW = 30 * .25 kW = 7.5 kW. That's a friggin' garage heater!

    I'd still go with a thick copper plug, really.

    • by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @06:14AM (#47782901)

      Is replacing the batteries illegal during a race? If not, why not just do that? Tesla previewed fast battery exchange a year ago as a model for fueling stations.

      • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:41AM (#47783499)

        That's what I was thinking too. Just set up pit stops and the design the cars so that the battery can be popped out and replaced just like the tires. Maybe have pit stops like oil change garages with dug-outs that the car can drive over, with the guys under the car pulling and replacing the battery at the same time the guy up top is replacing the tires. Easy peasy.

        • I doubt dug-outs as that would be a huge safety issue. Both for the drivers that might drive a tire over one (on accident), and the people inside when there's a fire. And there will be a fire; sooner or later, it will happen!

          • by TBoon ( 1381891 )
            They could probably make some kind of door/lid that only opens once the car is in place. (This might add a few seconds to the pit stop, so maybe some other solution could be found?) If the dug-out isn't a mere dug-out but more like a basement underneath the entire pit area there would be other escape routes for people below in case of a fire.
          • "And there will be a fire; sooner or later, it will happen!" then it will definitely be more like F1, they used to fill up with fuel during a race and had fires as a result
            • You're dealing with a vehicle that -by nature- stores and expends a great deal of energy. Shit happens, and fire is a result of not being able to control that energy in the event of a malfunction. It's going to happen, human error is inevitable.

      • I suspect chargers are cheaper than battery packs. Also, swapping a pack invites mechanical failure, while a wired charger has a lesser chance, and a wireless charger none at all.

    • by geogob ( 569250 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @06:27AM (#47782937)

      Quite warm, yes! It's already quite warm under may car, where the battery is, when charging it with 22 kW over a good ol' copper thick copper wire. At this charging rate, the cooling fans and the car's AC automatically jump in to cool the cells.
      Although I never tried it, I could also charge at 44 kW... that's sure going to produce a lot of heat.

      Now I imagine doing so at 80% transfer efficiency. I am convinced heat would be a major issue; It's not yet a technical issue, but definitely a comfort issue. Furthermore, paying now about 0.28€/kWh, I wouldn't be happy to lose 20% of it to melt the snow on the road. That's only good for Quebec, where I used to pay under 0.04$/kWh.

    • Cool, can't wait to hear how your thick copper plug idea works on your electric super car
    • Everyone is talking about climate change, energy efficiency, etc. And the future is supposed to be 30% energy losses everywhere just because people are too lazy to connect fucking cables?

      This race is doomed.

  • Not worth it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:13AM (#47782689) Journal

    For $$$ amount of electricity lost buy using this method of charging a car would pay for a holiday after a decade. (25Kwh * 20%loss * 10c * 365days * 10years = $1825)

    Why is plugging in a charger difficult? With my phone I'd say plug-in is more convenient because I don't have to worry about dedicating a flat surface for charging, the phone get plugged in and chucked wherever at whatever angle.

    • by geogob ( 569250 )

      It's not a question of difficulty, but of convenience. Imagine you could charge at every red light you stop.

      I drive an electrical car every day to work. The charging time for one leg from home to work is typically 15 minutes. Driving time is about 40 minutes. In those 30 minutes. I cross about 20 intersections with traffic lights; about 10 of those are major intersections, where I often wait 30 seconds to 1 minute. So assuming my luck is bad, I get to wait 10 minutes at red lights on my way to work.

      With a c

      • It's not a question of difficulty, but of convenience. Imagine you could charge at every red light you stop.

        Seems to me that if theres a push to "green everything" and several places are having power supply issues, tacking on yet another 25% loss is a pretty piss poor idea.

        • by geogob ( 569250 )

          Although I agree that the 25% loss is not acceptable, I can't rally to your argumentation based on "several place are having power supply issues". What if I live in an area that doesn't have issues at all?

          I've heard the same argumentation before for water. Fresh water is short in server place, so we need to save water said the politic. Followed large (and expensive) initiatives to save water - even in region where fresh water was not an issue. Followed that in those region, the water saving was so efficient

          • Followed that in those region, the water saving was so efficient, that the consumption dropped below critical threshold for the infrastructure. To maintain it, it now needs to be flushed out on regular basis, which in turn lead to a higher overall water need as before the initiatives.

            People need to have access to that kind of information so that they can react accordingly, individually. And not buried in twelve sub-levels of the municipal website either. Something easy to access that loads instantly, such a

      • If the point of electrical cars is to SAVE energy and reduce emmissions (as proponents claim), then a tech that wastes 25% of said energy (and the coal that produces it) just for a little convenience sort of defeats the purpose. May as well drive a fuel-efficient hybrid.

        These cars are SUPPOSED to save the planet, remember? They're not supposed to be just be status symbols for smug assholes.

        • by geogob ( 569250 )

          No one is suggesting we should install right away an inefficient system. What is suggested is that such a system would be useful and should be developed further to make it both practical, affordable and efficient. At its current stage, the technology is obviously not mature.

          An what's with the frustration about electrical cars? Do you really believe the concept doesn't go beyond the aspiration of sum assholes or of Tesla motors?

          Anyway, you might be surprised to learn that electrical cars are more effective a

    • Re:Not worth it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by markass530 ( 870112 ) <markass530@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday August 29, 2014 @06:52AM (#47783017) Homepage
      Are you planning on using this electric super car as your daily driver?
    • Why is plugging in a charger difficult?

      Because any of a million things can happen to render a microUSB port useless... And the failure of that tiny part makes your $1,000 smartphone similarly useless and worthless.

      I'd go for something like a magnetic surface-mount charging cord, if I got to make all the R&D decisions. But since I don't, an induction coil with some power loss is better than having to fiddle with fragile microUSB jacks all the time.

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        I have come a bit too close to breaking a microUSB by plugin a usb cable the wrong way round, but the new USB3 reversible port fixes that problem. To be fair, the gadget I had trouble with had a poor surface mount that made it difficult to see which way round to plug the lead... still a problem for partially sighted regardless though.

      • My toothbrush has charged wirelessly for 15 years. My MacBook Air has a magnetic recharging cable, which is really nice (SOOOO much better than the micro USB on my phone). I previously had a phone that had both magnetic connector charging AND inductive charging in a tiny phone (HP Veer) proving it is possible and practical. I'm utterly baffled by why these two options aren't preferred everywhere. We have existence proofs, everybody that uses them loves them, what is the hold up?
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      25 kWh per day? What are you, a courier? That's like 100 miles a day on average (including weekends), over 3x the US average.

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        Alter the inputs if you want but it is still very wasteful. If electric cars took off and started using half of the countries electricity, would we really want 10% of all power to be used just to support people who are too lazy to plug their car in?

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Electric cars wouldn't use half the country's electricity, passenger vehicles' share of total energy consumption is much smaller than that. But I don't disagree with you that it's bad to waste power. Still, for a potential EV consumer whose turned off from EVs because they're lazy, if the choice is between "waste 20% more electricity" and "keep driving a gasoline car", the wireless EV is still the much better option.

    • Our Three Cars (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Our 2012 Nissan Leaf was purchased used from a rental fleet for $15,600 with 8,100 miles. After the down payment and at 2.4%, the monthly payments are ~ $245 per month. Electricity costs about $50 / month when the car "Trickle" charges at home nightly at 120V / 12A. Added together, we are looking at $295 per month for the first 60 months, followed by $50 per month after that. If the battery wears out before eight years, Nissan will replace it for free. After that, Nissan will offer a replacement batter

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:31AM (#47783141)

    Why couldn't they make a race track similar to a slot car track, although without the slot?

  • One of the articles cited says the car "produces zero emissions". Perhaps we can coin a new phrase for electric cars: "zero direct emissions".

    Most people reading this implicitly understand that if an electric car is charged using electricity from a coal- or gas-fired power plant it really doesn't have zero emissions. But a very large percentage of the public simply doesn't get that, and thinks of electric cars as an immediate way to address the greenhouse gas problem.

    Sure, electric cars probably, (depending

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:48AM (#47783897) Homepage

      You act like there's no research papers on this subject. There have been tons, and the conclusions in each case are the same:

      1) CO2 emissions would decline even on the US's current grid (which is, I should add, getting cleaner every year, while the amount of emissions associated with oil production keep rising)

      2) On a generation basis, every region in the US has enough space capacity for a full switchover of the passenger fleet today, without any new plant construction, except the Pacific Northwest. Most charging is done at night when most power plants lie idle, but the Pacific Northwest is an exception because their heavy use of hydro means time of use isn't important, only net consumption.

      3) The only thing that there's not enough of at present is simply local distribution capacity, to peoples' homes.

      Of course, that's for a complete, instantaneous switchover, which is of course an impossiblity. Your average car is driven for about two decades before it goes to scrap, only a small fraction rotate out of service every year. And that's assuming that everyone bought EVs as replacement, which if course is an impossiblity because even if everyone was suddenly sold on the concept of EVs it'd take a decade or more to ramp up production to that level. And of course everyone is not suddenly sold on the concept of EVs. You're looking at maybe a 30-40 year transition time period here. If power companies can't keep up with a trend that's stretched out over the scale of several decades, they deserve to fail.

      • Thanks for the informative reply! I'll take that info into account during future rants. However, I'd still prefer there to be a greater awareness on the part of Joe Public that an electric car isn't magically an emission-free vehicle.

    • One of the articles cited says the car "produces zero emissions". Perhaps we can coin a new phrase for electric cars: "zero direct emissions".

      I usually refer to it as "remote emissions". But "zero direct emissions" probably sounds better from a marketing standpoint.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      But that's pointless and misleading. I don't say my kitchen blender has emissions or my cellphone.

      Gasoline has emissions because when you burn it, it releases CO2 (and others). There are also emissions when the gasoline is produced at the refinery.

      Electric vehicles produce no emissions when the electricity is used. In some cases, generating electricity does produce emissions.

      The advantage is large powerplants can control emissions much easier than a car and even better - they can be replaced by
  • Think about wireless charging: convert energy to RF, transmit, convert RF to energy. Each conversion is not perfect. The transmission loses energy density according to a power law. Just that simple transfer is inefficient. And for what reason? Convenience. Nothing more.

    Our impact on the planet is what it is. There are a lot of humans. But we are so staggeringly wasterful it is obscene. We net tens of thousands of fish in one catch, to get the thousand we really want. We run air conditioners and po

  • by lupine ( 100665 ) * on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:38AM (#47784795) Journal

    Tesla superchargers charge at 120kW with a wired connection. 20kW is not fast enough to quickly charge an electric vehicle that has enough batteries to provide adequate range. Even the Fast DC chademo chargers for the leaf can charge at 50kW.

    Fast wireless charging will never happen because wasting 10% of your power as heat under the vehicle will cause things to melt at high power rates.

  • You know there was a time that most car races were about promoting innovation in automotive technology. Seems we got "off track" ... lol. But I'm glad that there is innovation somewhere in the automotive industry.

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