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Student-built E-Quickie electric vehicle draws energy wirelessly from the road

By

September 12, 2010

The E-Quickie draws energy from electric conducting paths on the ground

The E-Quickie draws energy from electric conducting paths on the ground

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Over the last couple of years there have been a number of wireless chargers hitting the market, such as the Powermat and the WildCharge. These are designed to keep mobile devices charged and ready without dealing with the hassle of cords and connections. The technology has also been proposed as a way to recharge vehicles while they are parked without having to plug them in, while some companies are looking at charging cars while they are moving from electrical conductors embedded in the road. Now, a group of students in Germany has taken that idea and run with it by building an electric vehicle called the E-Quickie that runs on wireless power transmission.

Looking a bit like a recumbent bike with a driver’s cabin, the E-Quickie was built by students at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HsKA) to investigate the practicality of a wirelessly powered electric vehicle. It gets its energy from electric conducting paths on the ground with receivers underneath the car taking energy from the tracks through electric induction and directing it to the car’s electrical hub drive.

One student working group took care of setting up the racing track, which was provided by the firm SEW, in Bruchsal. Two other teams were dedicated to the vehicle’s energy absorption and the safety of the entire system.

The E-Quickie weighs just 60kg (132lb)

They designed the individual vehicle components, such as the steering and braking system and the chassis, using high-tech materials. Keeping the weight of the vehicle to a minimum and its aerodynamics were also important factors for designing the outer skin of the vehicle’s body, for which the students used carbon fiber. Before construction of the vehicle, all its components and finally the whole vehicle were optimized by computer in a virtual wind channel.

The end result was a three-wheeled vehicle that weighs just 60kg (132lb). However, Prof. Jürgen Walter from the faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics and head of the project is confident this can be reduced to 40kg (88lb) through further optimization.

“With other vehicle types you have a weight ratio between driver and vehicle of 1:10/1:15. We’re aiming for a ratio of 1:2 through further development of the E-Quickie,” said Walter.

Even though the vehicle’s motor only has a horsepower of 2kW, its light weight means it is still able to reach a speed of 50km/h (31mph). Even though the vehicle draws its power from the track, it still has batteries onboard. However, these serve only as a buffer and are therefore much smaller than those found in other electric cars which draw energy from batteries exclusively.

The E-Quickie's monster 2kW motor

“The aim was not only to show how quickly you can move around with the E-Quickie, but most of all how energy efficient the car is”, explains Walter. “We went to the start with half-filled batteries and returned with full ones.” For what then are batteries used for in this system of energy transfer? As soon as the car leaves the electrical conductor tracks, the power supply to the motor is interrupted. “Here the small accumulators then jump on-board the E-Quickie as an energy buffer,” explains Walter, “for example when it’s driven into the garage.”

The team has already achieved success: On May 19-20 this year, the students took part in the Karlsruhe E-Meile, completing 40 laps on the 222-meter (728-ft) conductor track. The team plans to use the test track at the HsKA campus to continue optimizing the vehicle for reduced energy consumption and weight.

Via AutoMotto

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
15 Comments

With all the technologies that Gizmag and many other sites have covered, I think the optimum future for transportation is in plain view. I have seen it, and have written about it on my blog (http://rootproblem.blogspot.com). The perfect car replacement is an electric assisted velomobile (pedalcar), with electricity transferred from a solar panel roadway and navigation handled autonomously. The result is maximum energy efficiency, increased physical fitness, pollution reduction, rapid transit, the disappearance of automobile related fatalities, increased mean wealth, and the list goes on...

dreamer.redeemer
13th September, 2010 @ 05:40 am PDT

As much as I love this.... And I do!!! Yeah students!!!!! My big question is what is the energy cost of getting the energy from the imbedded wires in the track??? So you create electricity from some source. It is connected to the track.... A vehicle runs over and extracts the electricity..... How much of the energy did the work and how much was lost in transmission.... Some have been referred to as a 60% loss...... This is a big issue for this type of devices... I wish you well...

froginapot
13th September, 2010 @ 10:29 am PDT

I agree with froginapot.

Without a discussion of energy efficiency this post is pointless.

Now I am not only talking about efficiency of the power from the generating station to the vehicle (including transmission from road to vehicle), but also a comparison of this systems efficiency to an internal combustion engine and its distribution.

This system could be 50% efficient and still come out on top. Internal combustion gas engines are usually between 25-30% efficiency. Most of the power is lost to heat and mechanical friction. Diesel engines are a bit better.

Considering the oil comes thousands of miles away, must be refined, and then transported by truck to a station, this electrical system may be a winner.

-Dennis

www.PrometheusGoneWild.com

PrometheusGoneWild.com
13th September, 2010 @ 01:09 pm PDT

For all the hassle that alt-energy vehicles have to overcome, I still think that hydrogen-powered vehicles or perhaps hydrogen/electric hybrids will still eventually come out on top. Power or fuel storage is still the stumbling block for EV and hydrogen to a lesser extent. I hope that one of the more efficient/cheaper hydrogen generation methods that have been covered in Gizmag will actually go commercial. Cheaper materials for construction of fuel cells would help also. Just my US two cents (which has gotten so cheap I can afford to leave my opinion fairly often!) O-)

Will, the tink
13th September, 2010 @ 01:17 pm PDT

On the flipside of my first comment, I wish they would be doing this with a real electric car (they are now readily available) and not some super light-weight thing no one will want to but as a real car.

If they were using a real car, they might actually get a town or city somewhere to apply for government funding to put in an electrified road as a test bed.

They will have to work out problems of snow, snow plowing, rain and installation issues....

-Dennis

PrometheusGoneWild.com
13th September, 2010 @ 01:48 pm PDT

If electric cars are going to be run on electric batteries, why can't they get their electricity from , wind that turns the fan belt or friction from the tires while they are in motion?

toneill4
13th September, 2010 @ 02:58 pm PDT

Another issue that's bound to emerge with this technology is the safety of people in such high electric and magnetic fields. Rightly or wrongly there's a lot of concern amongst the public about such things. The energy it takes to communicate (cell sites) and the energy it takes to push along a vehicle are MILES apart!

Reports of cancer from people living under power pylons, although contested by many, will be the subject of complaints for decades to come I bet. Unless the coupling is so close that the stray fields impinging on the body are minimized, this will have to be dealt with. I suspect other methods will win out.

warren52nz
13th September, 2010 @ 06:14 pm PDT

Serreiously?

A chick in a kevlar tube with a battery behind a panel, and a inductive pickup slung underneath it....

Given that this does 50Kmh tops.....

a) Why the full on crash helmet? and

b) Why the Nomex fire suit?

I suppose she lay upon a launch rated astronauts seat too..........

Mr Stiffy
13th September, 2010 @ 07:11 pm PDT

Inductive charging does not solve any of our transportation issues. Inductive charging is not efficient. We have taken the issue of an inefficient gas car, and came up with the solution of an inefficient electric car. Inductive charging requires electric current to constantly be passed through coils, which would require an enormous power source. Using batteries to power an electric car though, is still the best solution. The reason being is that solar electricity could be pumped into the grid during the daytime, and the battery powered electric cars could store this electricity. At night the electric cars not in use could pump electricity where needed. Which would allow battery powered electric cars to use solar energy during all hours of the day. Also, in a battery powered electric vehicle, power is only used when needed, whereas with induction we would need to power the conductor tracks twenty four-seven. Finally, somebody would have to pay for the infrastructure and energy costs. The obvious solution would be to charge per kilowatt of electricity used. This would most likely require a government organization to bill each person, and truth be told, who wants another government organization dictating to us?

gtStudent1101
13th September, 2010 @ 07:39 pm PDT

There are several interesting solutions offered by this idea. Congestion is a problem that will not be addressed by any alternative fuel. Vehicles computer guided roadways are the only way to pack more vehicle into the same roadway with densities that would be unsafe for human control.

Electric power from roadways is probably cheaper than buying and eventually replacing batteries. It means that a vehicle might be driver less and not require stops shipping companies would love that. Such a system would make electric vehicle range and battery cost obsolete issues. City planners hope to have all taxis and buses on such a system in S. Korea by 2020.

With respect to concerns over efficiency and EMF. There may be 3 or 4 types of systems for transmitting power wirelessly (induction. capacitor resonance, laser, Tesla's secret?) Articles on EMF concerns with induction charging systems seem to suggest a level within reasonable and safe expectations. Also it may not be necessary to have the system complete if some energy storage were on the vehicle. Ultracapacitor buses run in Singapore with several miles between stations. Imagine charging vehicles at all stoplights.

Such systems typically have around a 10% transmission loss (The EV1 charging system was by induction paddle) I have not seen any system that had greater than a 20% loss although there may be some.

Such a system would be more cost effective where there were many vehicles. Cities and some toll roads may be the first adapters of such technology.

BreathontheWind
13th September, 2010 @ 09:50 pm PDT

This is valuable research. Once we unchain ourselves from fossil fuel engines, possibilities explode into existence. Will we discover a new mobile source that creates power from wind or friction or ? Will we design batteries that store sufficient amounts to take with us? Will we be able to access remote power stations by broadcast or stripes in the roads?

I cannot imagine that humans will easily give up their personal, go anywhere, carry family and luggage to the tune of 1000 lbs. (not counting the vehicle) under their annual salary, warm, comfortable and safe, get there at 70 mph, expression of their personality magic carpet. We need to meet this need without creating hazardous emissions.

I'm confident we will...now that we are actually looking.

mikeyshaus
14th September, 2010 @ 04:37 am PDT

The critics have entirely missed the point, which is that this is RESEARCH, not a consumer product, not a finished system. It's a proof-of-concept vehicle and a proof-of-concept system, nothing more. We aren't going to be mandated into wearing nomex suits, and/or wearing helmets in our cars, and/or driving itty bitty electric-powered velomobiles with carbon-fiber bodies.

The future electric car, however, will likely be smaller and lighter and more efficient than what we're accustomed to.

I personally don't believe battery packs will ever be light enough or hold enough energy to satisfy our expectations of vehicle performance and range simultaneously, but the concept of gaining charge from the roadway wirelessly (an idea I've been promoting for years) gives the electric car much greater potential.

Induction may not be the ideal approach (that would be some kind of magnetic tunneling resonance, like witricity) but this demonstration proves the viability of the concept: yes, it can work.

The only noteworthy challenge would be in how to meter the energy so that everyone pays their fair share, but I don't think that's going to be all that difficult.

William H Lanteigne
14th September, 2010 @ 11:56 am PDT

Yes, the solution is obvious. Local roadway generation of electric power may not be strictly necessary, since wires carry energy at low cost.

With gasoline IC engine efficiencies well under 50% and gasoline deliveries by tanker trucks, small batteries on electric cars and trucks collecting electricity from the roadway can be supplied for much, much less. The efficiency of electric motors overwhelms gasoline, the only problem has been "fuel" delivery. "Electricity tanks" (batteries) are much heavier than gas tanks, so the electrical absorption of energy on the road while traveling is going to be the wave of the future. Wires are becoming better conductors, motors are becoming even more efficient (80-90% is routine), and batteries improve, too. Electric vehicles must win out, and the sooner the better for all of us.

Sadly, making our vehicles aerodynamic (merely bending sheet metal properly) costs almost nothing, and could improve fuel efficiency dramatically. Enclosed wheel wells, belly pans, and boat tails/fish tails on all vehicles would turn America into a gasoline exporting nation.

TogetherinParis
14th September, 2010 @ 09:45 pm PDT

The idea of having what amounts to an electric car with only a small battery has many benefits as described above.Charging remains a problem though.Perhaps as a possible solution there could be microwave lasers embedded in the roadway which fire a micro burst up to a receiver on the underside of the car as it passes over it.The cars will communicate with the lasers and only take charges when needed.It will also track energy usage so there could be accurate billing.These lasers could also be mounted on lamp post tops or overhead bars that fire down to a roof top receiver.Small batteries will give the car a 20 mi-30 mile when off major roads.

noah
20th October, 2010 @ 07:32 am PDT

it is feasible to drive electric vehicles from solar energy by using solar panels at road dividers

Saurabh Chawla
21st August, 2012 @ 09:28 am PDT
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