This Valentine’s Day let’s share the love with a little green.
Electric cars seem to have a few issues when it comes to traveling distances. Batteries just take too long to charge, and don’t hold as much juice as we’d like. Not even the great and mighty Tesla (the car company, not Nikola) has managed to solve that problem just yet.
However, chances are, sometime in your life you’ve seen (in real life, or on TV) an electric train, subway, trolley, bus, or other wheeled vehicle of some type that runs on electricity provided by a grid that it’s connected to. You know, that really tall hook thingy that grips those overhead wires? Or the dreaded train/subway rail that you’re not supposed to touch? It’s a common enough concept and makes sense in limited areas. In fact, it’s more energy efficient for a vehicle to grab its power as it travels than it is to lug around a big gas tank.
So why don’t electric cars use the same approach?
Well, all of those wires overhead everywhere could get awfully difficult to maintain for one. And if you used something lower to the ground, chances are some numbskull would electrocute him/her-self crossing a road.
Well, that is, unless you asked Tesla (Nikola, not the car company) to come up with a solution. (Wardenclyffe Tower anyone?) Sadly, being dead, no one thought to ask Nikola Tesla how to power an electric car without plugging it into the road. So it took us an awfully long time for we mere mortals to think of this: We could always charge an electric car wirelessly as it drives.
Thanks to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science soon two electric busses will be able to travel along the road from Gumi station by recharging their batteries wirelessly from induction loops embedded in the road along the route. No zappy-zappy to humans. It’s effectively the same technology that lets some cellphones and even toothbrushes recharge wirelessly, only applied to moving vehicles.
And if you eat the cost to put this same kind of technology into urban areas, you could easily design a gridwork of roads where electric cars, busses, trolleys, etc. can recharge themselves as they drive. All without wires.
It could become a green-city utopia.
Even major highways, tollways, turnpikes, etc. where longer distance driving is done could be augmented with sections of induction charging to allow electric cars, that drive on the right roads, to eat up the miles indefinitely without ever needing to stop for a charge, which would make electric cars infinitely greener and more convenient than their gas-guzzling compatriots at that point. Imagine driving thousands of miles without ever having to stop for fuel even once.
In theory, it’s possible. And Korea is the one showing us how.