Scientists Demo System That Charges Electric Cars Through Tyre-To-Road Contact


Electric cars are the future, so we're told. But even so, few still can put up a strong argument for favouring the green alternative to the gas-guzzling motors we have taken for granted for decades. For one; mileage ranges, while ever-improving, are still far from substantial for the average road user. Now, the era of the electric car is one step closer, with scientists ably demoing how electricity can be passed through concrete to charge cars on the move, paving the way for an electric motor future.

In the demonstration conducted by researchers from the Toyohashi University of Technology at a trade show on wireless tech in Yokohoma last week, the team successfully showed how they are able to transmit electricity through a solid concrete block (of 4” in thickness, or 10.16cm) to a pair of full-sized car tyres. Between 50 and 60 watts of electricity was transmitted to the car tyres through metal plates fitted between concrete blocks that were used to represent the road surface; a set-up which allowed electric to be driven to their steel belts, in turn powering an in-circuit light bulb.

Despite the tremendous demonstration (which ought to prick the ears for those who have already taken the plunge to the electrically-charged side), there are still some minor road bumps in such technology being implemented on our roads. Namely, energy efficiency is far from perfect, with researchers struggling with 'significant' energy loss through the circuit – a 20 percent loss was recorded in a similar experiment last year – while Takashi Ohira has stressed the electrical power would need to be 100 times greater were it to actually charge a car's on-board battery.

Still, hopes resting on the research remain positive. Ohira has said the components needed to vastly improve on the technology are cheaply available and further insisted the system could work even through concrete double the thickness.

Richard Birkett