15. June 2011 10:54
How does wireless electricity work?
In much the way an opera singer's voice can shatter a glass from across the room, electricity can be transmitted wirelessly, as a research team at MIT has proven. WiTricity entrepreneur Eric Giler explains how power generated at specific frequencies can light up our electrical devices:
In a news release from MIT, Prof. Peter Fisher from the aforementioned research team cited an important distinction of the wireless system: "As long as the laptop is in a room equipped with a source of such wireless power, it would charge automatically, without having to be plugged in. In fact, it would not even need a battery to operate inside of such a room." Automatic charging is impressive enough, but powering electronics without batteries? Consider the possibilities.
Could shippers and manufacturers benefit from wireless electricity?
Giler hopes that MIT's electrical breakthrough could bring an end to "suck[y]" batteries. With energy-conscious fleets tethered to the (currently) limited number of charging stations, perhaps a pragmatic alternative to hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) should be on the road ahead. Could portable power sources keep trucking equipment charged over long hauls? Could warehouses provide transmitters to recharge tractor-trailers as their shipments are unloaded?
At least one company, Delphi Automotive, has designed an cordless electric vehicle charger. It's not a stretch to imagine wireless electricity becoming a viable or even preferable option to power commercial vehicles.
Wireless electricity is an open field (no kite strings necessary). WiTricity takes a first step by designing embeddable technology for other products. How this wireless technology will be used in the future remains open to innovative manufacturers.
Image by bradleygee on Flickr