Imagine a world in which electric vehicles could be recharged without needing to plug them in. Maybe that’s not too far away.
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New Zealand-based hi-tech innovator HaloIPT is developing an inductive power transfer (IPT) system for EVs which works in much the same way as wireless chargers for electric toothbrushes, mobile phones and other low-powered devices.

According to HaloIPT, its system uses strongly coupled magnetic resonance to transfer power from a transmitting pad on the ground to a receiving pad on an electric vehicle. Power is transferred by tuning the pick-up coil in the EV to the operating frequency of the primary coil in the ground with a series or parallel capacitor.

To be charged, a vehicle simply needs to be parked within 40cm of the pad, and HaloIPT says it works in all weather conditions.

Charging speed through IPT is said to be similar to conventional plug-in systems, but it comes with a number of advantages.

Perhaps the most exciting of HaloIPT’s visions is the potential to embed charging pads in roads and create a “charge as you drive” network, theoretically leading to the holy grail of never running out of fuel.

Initially, it is expected EV owners will charge their vehicles similarly to plug-in electrics: at charging stations, while parked at work and overnight at home.

HaloIPT also says the system is safe, with no danger of electric shocks, no exposed contacts and no moving parts. Independent testing has found the technology has no harmful impact on humans or animals.

The NZ company is not alone in its attempt to commercialise IPT, however.

Automotive parts manufacturer Delphi has joined forces with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a program called WiTricity, and Nissan is also know to be developing its own wireless charging technology for deployment in its future electric vehicles.

HaloIPT is planning to have a commercial-scale system ready for demonstration by 2012.