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Inductive Charging For EVs To Be Tested In Berlin

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the da-da-da-da-da-da dept.

Power 123

cylonlover writes "The increasing availability of more practical electric vehicles has seen inductive charging technology attract the attention of those looking for for a cable-free way to charge EV batteries. German automakers are taking the opportunity to put inductive charging of EVs to a real-world test as part of the 'Effizienzhaus-Plus mit Elektromobilität' project. The project is a German government-backed initiative to build an energy-efficient house that generates more electricity than it consumes, with the surplus being fed back into the grid or used to charge the occupants' electric vehicles."

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a smart fortwo? (-1, Troll)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454192)

I don't care if its free to run, I still wouldn't be caught dead in it

Re:a smart fortwo? (5, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454262)

Who would? I'd much rather be caught alive in one.

Re:a smart fortwo? (1)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454882)

Given its performance in crash testing, you may find yourself dead should you crash one.

Re:a smart fortwo? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455038)

Given its performance in crash testing, you may find yourself dead should you crash one.

Last crash test I saw for it was it surviving a head-on with a wall @ 60MPH and basically bouncing off with almost no structural damage. Source for your crash tests?

Re:a smart fortwo? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455344)

Given its performance in crash testing, you may find yourself dead should you crash one.

Last crash test I saw for it was it surviving a head-on with a wall @ 60MPH and basically bouncing off with almost no structural damage.

[Citation needed]. No, seriously, I'm not being antagonistic, I'm interested.

Re:a smart fortwo? (1, Informative)

lixlpixel (747466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455522)

SMART crash test [youtube.com] on youtube - although not the fortwo, and nearly six years old.

Still impressive...

Re:a smart fortwo? (5, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456004)

No it isn't. For one the test was mostly show. Without accelerometers a crash test is of limited value. But visually, the car holds together but it is so rigid the passengers would have to take almost the full force of the acceleration of the impact. There is no real crumple which is what helps reduce the G forces on the passengers in bigger nosed cars if they crash. Even the windshield of the Smart Car crashed in the test lab didn't break. And when they crashed a Smart Car into concrete at 70 mph the driver's door still functioned. Given that the door basically starts at the front of the car, this thing didn't crumple hardly at all. As unscientific as the tests in that video are even the presenters noted this (I transcribed a short excerpt on it):

The downside of the shells rigidity is that there is a greater potential for the crash forces to be transmitted through to the passengers. Ideally you ought to slow them down as slowly as possible.

If the people have to take the acceleration of a crash at any sort of speed, they will die. But maybe the resale value of the car would still be good. Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable riding in one at any sort of highway speed. But what am I saying??? I ride a motorbike. Never mind... I still wouldn't feel comfortable.

Re:a smart fortwo? (2)

neongrau (1032968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457350)

see smart fortwo [euroncap.com]
vs BMW 5 series [euroncap.com]


not too much of a difference, except that you have higher chances to kill pedestrians in a BMW :P

Re:a smart fortwo? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455718)

Where do you think all that energy goes when you decelerate from 60-0 in under a second. Oh, that's right, into you, when you die...

dumbass.

Re:a smart fortwo? (2)

eineerg (2098930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456060)

Have to agree here, cars that do well in collisions tend to compress as much as possible to dissipate energy, so a smart cart bouncing off a wall at 100km an hour probably isn't solid evidence.

Re:a smart fortwo? (2)

neongrau (1032968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457464)

smart uses some tech to compensate for the lack of crumple.
Basically some slightly-time-delayed absorber built-into the chassis.
The german word for it is "Tilgermasse" couldn't find a proper english term for it.
A lot of ppl fear driving smarts but being more endangered in a crash is just FUD.
Especially crumple seems to be a fetish of US car makers after their historical ignorance of it when they built massive chunks of metal that behaved the way you fear smarts would do.
It's probably already a tradition to lack behind in the automotive industry. ;)

Re:a smart fortwo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38459054)

The german word for it is "Tilgermasse" couldn't find a proper english term for it.

Try "Tuned mass" or "absorption mass".

But, Smarts still aren't safe. They're city cars, and for that they're more than capable enough, but at highway speeds they're basically death traps. I honestly have no idea why the hell anybody buys them in the US... I have no idea the relative economics of the vehicles in Europe, but in the US, you can get a car for the same price with equivalent gas mileage and more space, with more power, that's safer at highways speeds. I don't know, maybe people like parking sideways in parking spots? They think it makes them look "environmentally conscious" at half the price of a Prius?

Re:a smart fortwo? (1)

excitedidiot (2442050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459108)

The "Tilgermasse" is a suspended weight designed to stop vibration. It has nothing to do with crash protection.

Re:a smart fortwo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38458886)

To Euro NCAP: Quote Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org] The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) is a European car safety performance assessment programme based in Brussels (Belgium) and founded in 1997 by the Transport Research Laboratory for the UK Department for Transport and backed by several European governments. So I take their words over your evidence. Because you know "We builds se kars!

Re:a smart fortwo? (3, Funny)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454396)

Smart fortwo EV is doubleplus good [wikipedia.org] .

Low efficiency? (5, Insightful)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454248)

I suppose when you only need a few watts of energy for a cellphone or something, I can understand the use of inductive charging. But if you lower your efficiency by a significant amount in a single step while charging a car (a few dozen kWh), and this is multiplied across a population of EV owning people, this is potentially adding a lot of unnecessary strain to the electric grid.

Is it so hard just to plug the dang thing in? We don't have tubeless fuel transfer do we?

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

Endlisnis (208453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454342)

If you spill a little gasoline when filling your tank, it's not a big deal. If you spill a little electricity when charging your battery, it's more of a deal. Think of your grandma trying to plug a giant 300A cable into her car, or someone trying to do it while on his phone and drinking a cup of coffee.

Re:Low efficiency? (4, Insightful)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454542)

Actually, spilt gasoline is a big deal. Aside from it's detrimental effects on the environment, it's also has mildly toxic fumes and it is highly flammable. Every year many people are burned while pumping gas, we just don't hear about it much because, like car accidents, it is one of those risks that we just accept.

As for 'grandma' using a 300 amp plug. I think a clever engineer could come up with a relatively safe plug that doesn't sacrifice as much efficiency as inductive charging does.

Re:Low efficiency? (3, Insightful)

Endlisnis (208453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454694)

If you spill a *little* gasoline, it's not a big deal, to the person pumping the gas. Yes, I'm sure that many people are horribly burned from pumping gasoline while trying to light a cigarette every year, and you are never going to have a perfect system. But I could pretty easily (if I wanted to), go to a gas station, accidentally pump gas all over my pants and walk away uninjured, assuming I didn't do something stupid afterwards like try to dry myself off by a campfire. But if I tried the same thing with a high capacity charging cable, I'm pretty sure my testicles would pop like corn and I wouldn't be walking anywhere.

Re:Low efficiency? (5, Insightful)

Draconmythica (1057150) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454772)

You simply need to include a low voltage "handshake" type setup in the charging circuit and then only start the high power transfer once the plug is fully engaged. This shouldn't be too hard to implement for even a mildly clever engineer totally removes that risk.

Re:Low efficiency? (4, Informative)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455058)

You simply need to include a low voltage "handshake" type setup in the charging circuit and then only start the high power transfer once the plug is fully engaged. This shouldn't be too hard to implement for even a mildly clever engineer totally removes that risk.

That "handshake" is called a ground connection.
Many plugs have conductors of different lengths. The longer connectors are the ones you want to engage first.

Typically, the ground connectors engage first as you plug the cord in, so the device has a place to shunt current to in case of an OH SHIT moment.
Then your other, shorter connectors make contact as you continue pushing the plug in. If something's wrong with the device or those connectors, you already have a path to ground.

I think the SATA power connectors play this game with the +3.3V and +5V lines too. Not sure.
Look at the connectors on an SD card. Same principle.

Re:Low efficiency? (0)

Draconmythica (1057150) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455290)

That is a good point but it may not feel nice and comfy if 300A flows through your thumb to get from the hot prong you're touching to the ground prong. I was referring more to a solution of the exact opposite nature. Rather than having a extra long connector have a very short prong or even just a flat conductor on the surface of the plug that has to make contact with the receptacle before any current flows through the main circuit.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458220)

Anyone building high voltage connectors builds them with a sheath around the conductors. No one's going to be building connectors that look like household appliance plugs.

There are any number of ways to design a plug such that it's not physically possible to touch the hot wires before the ground is solidly engaged. Adding an electronic handshake to confirm would make it even safer.

In most respects, electrical safety is far easier to enforce then something like petrol pump safety.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456104)

If it is inductive, there is no ground.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458200)

But I could pretty easily (if I wanted to), go to a gas station, accidentally pump gas all over my pants and walk away uninjured,

This is not actually true.

Gasoline is only really "safe" to spill on yourself because it generally evaporates quickly - far faster then it can be absorbed by the skin (hence the "cool" feeling if you do happen to do this). This only holds true if the quantity remains small though, and it's not absorbed into something - like your pants.

It would be a supremely bad idea to continue wearing pants that have absorbed a significant quantity of gasoline and then just waiting for them to dry out. Yes you're "uninjured", but you're going to risk seriously poisoning yourself from the skin absorption (something like a chemical burn) and were you to then get in an enclosed space you could be overcome by fumes.

Talking about "spilling" a little electricity falls into the same category of risk as gasoline - you pretty much can't without concocting a scenario where someone does something about as stupid. A properly designed conductive charge connector isn't going to enable you to manually make contact without going to some effort to do so, and can be setup to prevent charging until a positive lock with the vehicle is established. The short circuit condition can be killed very quickly as well.

Re:Low efficiency? (5, Interesting)

uncqual (836337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454894)

I don't follow charging plug technology/standards. However if "spilling electricity" is a problem, it seems that something very wrong has happened in the standards process for these plugs. (The size/weight of a 300A cable for a very weak person might be more of a problem, although it seems like even that could be addressed by fairly simple mechanical systems to counterbalance the weight.)

Presumably (I certainly hope!) the charging stations have GFCI protection to prevent injury/damage from some of the common screwups/failures (fault to ground through human being a particularly interesting one).

A firm verified locking engagement of the cable and car presumably (again, I certainly hope) is required before power is enabled and breaking that locked engagement presumably shuts off the power.

For extra credit, if the charging unit and the vehicle being charged ever disagree substantially on the amount of energy being transferred (due, for example, to a breakdown somewhere in the cable causing a short across positive/negative which would not be detected by GFCI but could lead to fire problems et al), the charger should presumably shut down (this might not be a very precise safety mechanism due to having to allow for varying resistances of cables/cars).

For super extra credit, provide a standard mechanism to allow a car to identify itself though the plug via a cryptographically secure mechanism (similar to smart card). This would facilitate employers, for example, allowing employees to recharge their registered cars for free with a minimum of hassle without opening the recharging up to everyone in the parking lot. It would also allow cardless recharging at commercial recharging stations -- just plug into a charging station that is on the ShellCharge network and your car is instantly recognized and you're billed as appropriate. It would also allow a multifamily dwelling complex to provide chargers in a very transparent fashion to their residents.

Re:Low efficiency? (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455106)

For super extra credit, provide a standard mechanism to allow a car to identify itself though the plug via a cryptographically secure mechanism (similar to smart card). This would facilitate employers, for example, allowing employees to recharge their registered cars for free with a minimum of hassle without opening the recharging up to everyone in the parking lot. It would also allow cardless recharging at commercial recharging stations -- just plug into a charging station that is on the ShellCharge network and your car is instantly recognized and you're billed as appropriate. It would also allow a multifamily dwelling complex to provide chargers in a very transparent fashion to their residents.

Holy shit a good idea on Slashdot.
Apartment complexes (and the shitty housing market making them necessary for more and more people) are one of the big things holding back plug-in cars.
If people can't plug their car in they're not gonna buy a plug-in car.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457386)

Yes, that really appealed to the engineer in me. Then the cynic in me tapped my shoulder and said that the real use for that system would be vendor lock-in.

Think printer cartridges, except in this case they will say they are doing it for public safety.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

whois (27479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459408)

There's no reason your car can't send signaling through the inductive system and do the same identification. I'm mainly concerned about efficiency concerns, but if they find a way to make it work then it opens up a bunch of other practical uses (the drawbacks being living and working forever in giant EM fields, but again they have problems to solve..)

Re:Low efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455124)

If there was a short in the cable between positive to ground/negative, the current draw would spike and the circuit breaker would shut off. These are sized so that they trip below the level of sustained current that would cause a fire. Otherwise, very fine post.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

pjwhite (18503) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455162)

The answer to this question is, "convenience."
Imagine the scenario where you recharge your commuter car overnight. With a plug system, you will have to remember to 1) plug in the system when you get home and 2) unplug it again when you leave for work the next day. If you forget either of these steps, you end up with either an uncharged car in the morning, or the plug gets ripped out of the side of the car when you drive off.
If you can drive over an inductive loop when you park, your car will charge automatically when you park and there is nothing to disconnect when you leave again.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455296)

It would be trivial to put in an interlock that prevented the car from moving when it was physically plugged in.

Re:Low efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455490)

or a simple break away connector, like what gas pumps use so nothing gets damaged when someone forgets to remove the nozzle.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455534)

Yeah; but the "convenience" issue for electric cars is:
typical non-workday use-case: I would like to drive up to Yakima to visit my Sister's family this weekend @ 500 miles.
EV car has 250 mile range on freeway + 8hr recharge between 250 mile sprint. . . therefore, 500 miles will take (50mph freeway avg. . . 5hr + 8hr charge + 5hr =) 18 hrs, each way. . .
Gas car has - we'll say 250 mile range on freeway + 10 minute refuel stop: (my diesel car has a 450 mile range on freeway, so suck-it). ETA 10 hr each way.

You can do that 10 hr drive on the Friday evening, Sunday evening.
But with an EV your mobility of this use-case is severely impaired.
90% of use cases, as the hollywood intelligencia are fond of pointing out, are not impacted by this limitation.
IF ONLY the insurance companies and governments and automakers will allow me to own a second vehicle, FREE OF CHARGE, for the other 10% of the time I need this kind of capability.

(by the way, renting a gas vehicle for this kind of trip, as I am doing this holiday, is costing me $400. I'm stuck this time, because we have to take the dogs, and they just won't fit in the diesel car. My thinking is that it would cost $60 to euthanize them. - - but that's just MY life. )

EV problem to be solved is RECHARGE-TIME. and/or capacity/range.
(and. . . get the idea through the stupid thick skulls of auto manufacturers that they don't have to make them look ugly as fuck. They can make them look the same as regular cars - duh! You seen the Leaf? bleh!).

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455850)

Your "typical non-workday use-case" is ridiculously UN-typical for most people.

Plus, why can't you have 2 cars (you probably already do?).. one for daily usage, electric, and a gas (or better, hybrid) one for weekends?

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456118)

Electric vehicles aren't for everyone, the same way a garbage truck or a motorbike isn't for everyone.

Re:Low efficiency? (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456392)

Canadians have done it for decades without any problem, are USians just lazy or what? Lot's of cars here come with plugs and lots of parking spaces have outlets to plug into to heat up the engine block.

Re:Low efficiency? (1)

mikestew (1483105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456944)

1) The Leaf can text you if it hasn't been plugged in by a certain time. I've never used the feature as I have to walk past the charger to get into the house. Not plugging it in requires a conscious decision not to do so. Otherwise it's "put it in park, flip the plug door, get out and plug it in as I walk toward the door to the house". It's literally an extra five seconds out of my day.

2) The Leaf won't "start" if it's still plugged in. Or so I've been told. *cough*.

I'm sure there are some use cases I'm missing that would make inductive charging super cool. I'm just not convinced that it does anything for me.

In an efficiency experiment? (5, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454312)

Who's the idiot who decided to put 'inductive charging' and 'energy-efficient' in the same paragraph? If you're trying to be efficient, inductive charging is the LAST thing you want to do. If you really are that opposed to having to plug in, come up with some innovative solution using contacts embedded in the garage like cordless phone cradles. Or do something like bumper cars. Though I bet people wouldn't like the thought of having exposed high voltage contacts...but I'm sure they could figure out a way to make it safe. Hell, even a plug on the front of the car that drives into a receptacle. Inductive is just stupid.

Re:In an efficiency experiment? (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455884)

OK, ill bite.

Inductive charging is not energy-efficient.

Who is the idiot now?

Re:In an efficiency experiment? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456144)

There is no doubt a transformer somewhere in the EV car charging path. Just make that the inductive connection.

Re:In an efficiency experiment? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456234)

Still not going to be as efficient as a direct connection. A normal transformer is going to be far more efficient than an inductive charger. It's not going to use air between the coils, it's going to be insulated, etc. All those improve efficiency. A power transformer will likely be more than 98% efficient, while an induction transformer is likely around 86%. And I would imagine this inductive charge system will be less efficient than those currently on the market -- if you're inductive charging a cell phone, the phone battery will be right up against the pad, so your gap between coils will at most be a few centimeters. For a car -- the bottom of your car isn't going to be on the ground. You'll probably have a foot or two air gap in there. Perhaps you could have it lower the coil when charging, but at that point you might as well have them physically connect. Even if you do you'll still probably have a bigger gap since you'll want the coils better insulated. Since it's going to follow the inverse square law, you're going to lose a lot of efficiency with that increased distance.

Grabbed my numbers from wikipedia:

"An ideal transformer would have no energy losses, and would be 100% efficient. In practical transformers, energy is dissipated in the windings, core, and surrounding structures. Larger transformers are generally more efficient, and those rated for electricity distribution usually perform better than 98%"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformer#Energy_losses [wikipedia.org]

"For example, the Magne Charge system employed high-frequency induction to deliver high power at an efficiency of 86%"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_charging#Disadvantages [wikipedia.org]

Inefficient (4, Informative)

Redbaran (918344) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454330)

Wikipedia cites an 86% efficiency for inductive charging. I would bet that efficiency is hurt as this scales up from a cell phone to a car. Other than helping to improve EV adoption by making it more convenient, why would we want such a system?

Given the current costs of an EV, plus the length of time it already takes to charge, it seems there are other areas of research that would be better focused on. This technology only makes an EV more expensive to own and would probably take longer to charge with. People seem to do just fine connecting a short, thick, clunky hose to their cars now.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_charging#Disadvantages)

Re:Inefficient (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454404)

You would be incorrect on your assumption. Inductive energy transmission efficiency involves many factors, but as voltage and current raise, recapture losses begin to drop off. Again MANY factors are involved here, but the base assumption that scaling inductive energy transmission up decreases efficiency is false.

Re:Inefficient (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454446)

I would imagine that efficiency scales upwards as the power to distance ratio gets larger.

The obvious drawbacks will, of course, be the extra weight in the car for the receiving coil, regulation circuitry (mostly the same as for regenerative breaking though?), and of course the side effects any sufficiently efficient transmission of energy would induce (effectively turning a small zone between the car and garage area in to a microwave and all of the other side effects caused by leaks and outside EM field shifts.)

Re:Inefficient (0, Redundant)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454460)

Wikipedia cites an 86% efficiency for inductive charging.

Gasoline engine [wikipedia.org] efficiency is typically between 25-30%; Diesel engines [wikipedia.org] do a little better, at between 40-50% efficiency. That said, the 86% efficiency rate of EV's is still over 30% greater than that of the most efficient internal combustion vehicles... and that's not good enough?

Re:Inefficient (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454486)

Wikipedia cites an 86% efficiency for inductive charging.

Gasoline engine [wikipedia.org] efficiency is typically between 25-30%; Diesel engines [wikipedia.org] do a little better, at between 40-50% efficiency. That said, the 86% efficiency rate of EV's is still over 30% greater than that of the most efficient internal combustion vehicles... and that's not good enough?

This is only for the charging. The actual production of the electrical power has additional losses.

Re:Inefficient (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454544)

The actual production of the electrical power

Don't forget transmission and the conversion of electrical power into actual momentum. I wonder how efficient inductively charged electrical cars would be when you take in all those losses?

Re:Inefficient (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455900)

Modern electric motors can be almost 99% efficient at turning electrical energy into mechanical energy.

Re:Inefficient (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454576)

Wikipedia cites an 86% efficiency for inductive charging.

Gasoline engine [wikipedia.org] efficiency is typically between 25-30%; Diesel engines [wikipedia.org] do a little better, at between 40-50% efficiency. That said, the 86% efficiency rate of EV's is still over 30% greater than that of the most efficient internal combustion vehicles... and that's not good enough?

This is only for the charging. The actual production of the electrical power has additional losses.

According to the government [fueleconomy.gov] , "Electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels—internal combustion engines (ICEs) only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline."

IANA electrical engineer, but 86% fueling efficiency + 75% fuel-usage efficiency sounds like it should blow 50% fuel-usage efficiency away any day of the week.

Though, I expect an electrical engineer to be able to correct my admittedly pitiful math if I'm wrong...

Re:Inefficient (5, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454826)

I took EE in school. Many years ago. Haven't done a thing with it since. However, the part you seem to be missing (and the AC you responded to) is simple logic, not EE-specific. We're not comparing inductive charging to gas vehicles. We're comparing inductive charging to non-inductive charging. That is, driving your EV to a specific area of your garage vs driving your EV to somewhere that it can reach the proper outlet and be plugged in.

86% efficiency for inductive charging means that when you buy 1KWh from the power company, you're only getting .86KWh to your vehicle. Additional losses come into play after that (and before that as well), but they should be the same losses whether we're using inductive charging or not, so they're entirely irrelevant. Copper wire's losses are negligible over this short of a distance, so when you buy 1KWh from the power company, you're putting 1KWh of energy into your vehicle, for all intents and purposes. That 14% loss is increasing the cost of "refueling" your EV by about 16%.

When comparing against gas vehicles, the mode of charging is relevant in that it affects the overall efficiency of the system. And you have a valid point that the overall efficiency of an EV likely far surpasses gas and diesel vehicles. However, we then open whole new cans of worms - depending on your energy source, the EV may not be a significant overall improvement when considering things like pollution. If your electricity is from a coal-fired plant vs natural gas vs nuclear/wind/solar/hydro, for example. If from coal, the EV advantage may not be nearly as significant.

Having said all that, induction charging can make the convenience of an EV very attractive. You don't have to think about it, you have a fully-charged vehicle every morning. No worrying about making a run to the gas station for regular commutes. If someone else can solve the distance problem, we could get a long way toward a serious contender to take gas vehicles off the road. While this doesn't make the EV a must-have, it is another parallel attempt to get there.

Re:Inefficient (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454738)

To explain further: this would be like saying that when filling up at the pump, only 86% of the gasoline makes it from the pump to your gas tank, and the rest is lost in the transfer.

Of course, direct contact also has losses during charging, so I'd like to see a direct comparison with measurable numbers. If this is on TOP of the losses already accrued due to charging... well....

Re:Inefficient (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456162)

The trucks that deliver the fuel need fuel too. Maybe not 14%, but something.

Re:Inefficient (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457672)

But that loss is already factored into the price per litre that you are paying.

Re:Inefficient (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458506)

Exactly. It doesn't matter whether the loss is accounted for in the retail price or in the quantity, you still pay for it.

Re:Inefficient (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454572)

I don't really care that much, and I'm sure most other people feel the same, about how energy efficient or not a particular source of fuel is. I care more about how much $ per mile, how far I can go, and how fast to refuel. I don't even know the first thing about inductive charging, but if means I can travel to work and back for a few dollars or cross country for a few hundred bucks, refuel in minutes not hours, then it sounds good. Oh, and if I'm stuck in a winter storm in Chicago for 12 hours in my car as many were last winter, will it keep me warm?

Re:Inefficient (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454678)

I don't really care that much, and I'm sure most other people feel the same, about how energy efficient or not a particular source of fuel is. I care more about how much $ per mile, how far I can go, and how fast to refuel. I don't even know the first thing about inductive charging, but if means I can travel to work and back for a few dollars or cross country for a few hundred bucks, refuel in minutes not hours, then it sounds good. Oh, and if I'm stuck in a winter storm in Chicago for 12 hours in my car as many were last winter, will it keep me warm?

Ultimately, those concerns will be the deciding factors in whether EV's manage to surpass ICEV's any time in the foreseeable future.

They (EV's) lost that battle in the 1920's, and even though batteries have become orders of magnitude more efficient than those of yesteryear, I personally don't see the EV replacing the good-ol'-fashioned inefficient, heat producing internal combustion engine anytime soon.

Re:Inefficient (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454908)

Replacing... mm perhaps not. But I think that relegating it to backup-status for now will be common. Sort of like sails on ships. When they switched from sails to steam power, they kept them for backup for a long time. If it is only needed to provide electricity, you can tune it much better than when it needs to provide power to the wheels.

Re:Inefficient (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456332)

Replacing... mm perhaps not. But I think that relegating it to backup-status for now will be common... If it is only needed to provide electricity, you can tune it much better than when it needs to provide power to the wheels.

Very true.

Now, if only someone could figure out a way to build such a system inexpensively... oh wait, someone did - 32 years ago. [motherearthnews.com]

Re:Inefficient (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455186)

Well, considering the inductive charging station is a permanent installation at your home, work, or other building. It will not affect an EV's ability to keep you warm at all. That is an electric heat / battery problem which is a different thing entirely from how the battery gets charged.

/. is notorious for dismissing the benefits of convenience and ease of use if the specs are not as good. "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

Re:Inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455474)

If that was the only criteria no one would be building electric vehicles today. It's about the environment, not the technology.

Re:Inefficient (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454816)

Those numbers refer to the efficiency of turning the energy in the fuel into mechanical energy needed to operate the engine, not to recharge it. I'm pretty sure recharging a liquid fuel engine is around 99% efficient (a little bit always spills out).

Re:Inefficient (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456096)

Other than helping to improve EV adoption by making it more convenient, why would we want such a system?

Convenience is the only reason. You have to admit, having your car automatically charge itself without you ever having even to think about it would be pretty cool.

The downside is the inefficiency, of course. Maybe someone clever will come up with a way to boost the efficiency to the point where it's no longer an issue -- or maybe they won't, and frugal-minded people will plug their car in, instead. Either way is okay with me.

Awe is appropriate (1)

John Da' Baddest (1686670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454346)

As a RealGeek(tm), I'm fascinated by this report and its possibilities. But I wonder why fluffs like Facebook are valued billions more valuable than something useful like this. Not that there's anything wrong with Geeking to make said billions -- this is a criticism of the customer base.

Re:Awe is appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455234)

I can't believe I finished reading your comment after your "RealGeek" term. What is that exactly? You're an elitist geek that thinks your better than all the other "fake" geeks?

Facebook is also valued billions of dollars more than a fork, but I'd rather have a fork when it's time to eat. Usefullness is not directly correlated with a companies value. A companies ability to make money is directly correlated with it's value.

Problem? (4, Funny)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454420)

The project is a German government-backed initiative to build an energy-efficient house that generates more electricity than it consumes

Problem, thermodynamics?

Re:Problem? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454530)

The project is a German government-backed initiative to build an energy-efficient house that generates more electricity than it consumes

Problem, thermodynamics?

Problem, comprehension? If the house has solar panels, wind turbines, etc, as well as being energy efficient in usage, then yeah, it could easily generate more electricity than it produces. You know, like a power plant.

Re:Problem? (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454684)

Problem, comprehension? If the house has solar panels, wind turbines, etc, as well as being energy efficient in usage, then yeah, it could easily generate more electricity than it produces. You know, like a power plant.

Problem, engineering? Even if the house has solar panels (optimistically 20W/sqft cite [yahoo.com] ), wind turbines (in a heavily suburban area with trees, neighbors, kids who like throwing things into other things... cite [energybulletin.net] = maybe 200kwH per year), etc., as well as being energy efficient in usage...

Okay, let's just stop there. Your fridge alone needs 600kwh. Hate to break it to you, but unless you live in a temperate climate that requires no heating, cooling, and the only major appliance in your house is a fridge, forget it hippy. There's a reason this is a major government backed initiative: It's almost hopelessly optimistic given today's technology.

p.s. recursion is fun.

Re:Problem? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455008)

I had assumed (very dangerous, I know) that the EV would be charged at night at low rates, then fed into the system during the day at high rates, thus taking care of the dollar value of the remaining electricity the house needs. Or sell it and the generated electricity back into the grid at peak times. Not a net plus in energy usage, but in dollars spent on energy usage. I haven't checked their numbers, so I could be wrong.

I would also expect that they're going to be using very efficient appliances in this house, so you should be able to get that fridge down to at the range of 425-500 kWh.

Re:Problem? (2)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455090)

This may be of interest: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2003/BoiLu.shtml [hypertextbook.com]

If it is possible to design a house that only consumes http://www.hollowtop.com/cls_html/solar_power.htm - gives them 2500 kWh/year. Uses a bit of real estate but we can get more efficient cells and then the price goes up but you can certainly get more power than this. And it is more than enough if you designed your house the right way. Even without a lot of measures, the average energy use for a Dutch household (2.1 persons) is around 3500 kWh/year. The more modern houses do better. And that is with just the general measures that every house has to follow.

So hopelessly optimistic, I think not. Optimistic yes, but certainly doable with current tech. Maybe not at a pricepoint you'd like, but doable? I think so.

Re:Problem? (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455288)

The US DOE estimates a fridge uses 725W source [energysavers.gov] . Lets say they have 1000 ft^2 of roof space that is all solar panels. That would provide ~20,000W with your number of 20W/ft^2 (this is highly variable though). Looks to me like that house could have 27.5 fridges running off of those solar panels. That's definitely better than you suggest.

Re:Problem? (4, Insightful)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455414)

Problem, bad info??

My pissy little 2.2kW solar system, consuming maybe 1/10 of my roof space, has generated over 1400kWh since August. I've cut my daily import consumption by more than half - from 20kWh to 9kWh - and that's still using airconditioning, two fridges, multiple PC's running all day and an electric tumble drier.

A bigger solar system or better engineered house with specific attention to energy efficiency would blow my efforts out of the water and easily have a nett export back to the grid.

Re:Problem? (2)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455922)

How much did yours cost, and what do you think the "payback time" will be?

(Disclaimer: I actually think payback time is often not a great question to ask.. one can want to be green even if it's more expensive... just like driving a ridiculous expensive BMW instead of a Civic.)

Re:Problem? (1, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455500)

Problem, oh non-worker in the field?

I don't know what outdated fridge you have, but mine consumes on average 300kWh per annum thanks to extremely efficient heat exchangers (the same kind being used in cars, which have typical efficiency of 400% - 1w energy consumed, 4w heat removed from the system.) I also have plenty of low-power and high-power gadgetry in this *HUGE* condo, and I'm still feeding surplus energy into CA's grid from solar and wind. I have a NEGATIVE bill.

Just because *YOU* use a ton of inefficient equipment doesn't mean everybody does.

"There's a reason this is a major government backed initiative: It's almost hopelessly optimistic given today's technology. "

No, it's because people like you aren't smart enough to know how to effectively build and operate such a system on your own, and have it actually work.

Re:Problem? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455928)

Do you have a negative bill over the course of a year?

Re:Problem? (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456074)

He was too busy congratulating himself on his inflated sense of intelligence to answer that. And I only say inflated because only someone of average to below average actual intelligence would confuse being underinformed with being stupid.

Re:Problem? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458552)

Information is quite easy to come by these days. Not informing yourself is pretty stupid...

Re:Problem? (2)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456174)

How do you install solar and wind in a condo?

Re:Problem? (1)

lorinc (2470890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457304)

Maybe you didn't know this, but not every country in the world is as energy hungry as the US. Just sayin'...

Re:Problem? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457444)

Someone who cares about these things isn't going to get an 600kWh / year fridge. He is going to get a A+++ 161 kWh / year fridge freezer combo [liebherr.com] Maybe a second fridge to plug in in case of a party.

Re:Problem? (2)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457818)

Do yourself a favour and get rid of your shitty fridge. Even an average modern one (kike Bauknecht KG335) needs only around 240 kWh per year, better ones (like Siemens KG39EAW40) are satisfied with 160 kWh or less.

Re:Problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454800)

Problem, comprehension? If the house has solar panels, wind turbines, etc, as well as being energy efficient in usage, then yeah, it could easily generate more electricity than it produces. You know, like a power plant.

Of course, especially if they live by the light of beef fat candle and cuddle in one small room for warmth in winter. Then add a solar panel and it can generate more power than the house consumes!

Efficient decentralized power generation is the oxymoron of this decade.

Re:Problem? (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455306)

When I read the summary, it sounded a lot like troll physics, hence the joke. But I'll get serious now.

I friend of mine studied/worked on alternative energies, and he told me that, at a small scale (houses) the efficiency is too low to make great economic sense. There are a few designs that are cheap and useful, but nothing fancy like electricity from solar or wind. What the Germans are trying to do requires a lot of planning and design, and in any case it won't "easily generate". Just look at the car in the original (German) webpage [bmvbs.de] : it's reeeeealy tiny. You can imagine why :P .

Just an example close to home: I know a married couple that have a farm, and they installed solar panels and a wind turbine to generate electricity. The solar panels power exclusively the fence (so the goats won't escape) and the turbine charges an accumulator (so they can have lights and, at least for a few hours before the battery dies, satellite TV). Hardly reaches the level of comfort we got accustomed to.

We are still at least a decade away from economically sensible solar and wind (for individual homes, at least).

Re:Problem? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456054)

We are still at least a decade away from economically sensible solar and wind (for individual homes, at least).

That all depends on how you define "economically sensible", which itself depends on what the alternatives are.

Where I live (in Pasadena, Southern California) the price of residential grid power is 15.5 cents per kWh. Our solar array (which is owned by a third party who we purchase power from), OTOH, provides us with power for 9.5 cents per kWh. So for us, solar power is already the cheaper option.

Granted, the 9.5c/kWh price was made possible by government subsidies, but if there had been no subsidies and we had to factor in the full cost of the system, our price for solar would have been between 15 and 20 cents per kWh... still in the ballpark of our grid power, and that was a year ago -- since then the price of solar panels has dropped considerable, and is likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. Grid power, in the meantime, continues to get more expensive.

So a more likely conclusion would be that either solar power is already economically sensible (for those with access to enough sun and roof space, anyway), or it will become so in the next couple of years.

Two Questions: (1)

renfrow (232180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454504)

Who's 'Inductive'?

and

Why are they charging for EVs to be tested in Berlin?

People are too stupid (4, Funny)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454548)

People are too stupid to plug their cars in, I mean, connecting something to the car to make it go? It just baffles the mind! That's why we all fuel up by driving into a pool of petrol and letting osmosis take its course!

Give it up (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454562)

Yes, because charging from a cable has worked so well. Perhaps passers by might object to being bathed by high power microwaves. Give it up hippies. It is a fracking future.

CO2 is not the problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454696)

We are running out of Oil fast and you worry about CO2 pollutions. Building cars which requires a vast array of batteries which are built by yet another limited resource. An unsustainable solution to a problem that will be fixed shortly due to completion of the oil.

Conductive roads (2)

guantamanera (751262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454840)

They should just build that stuff into the roads so we can drive our cars like bumper cars. Charge while you drive.

Make it 2 way (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454850)

That is the real interesting part. Simply park your car in the required spot and the house can pull back electricity if needed, or even sell it back on the market if allowed (and at a higher price).

They're testing this in Chattanooga (2)

Vegigami (32659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454916)

They're trying this out with some electric buses in Chattanooga, Tennessee: CARTA's electric buses to charge on the go [timesfreepress.com]

nissan leaf (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455336)

nissan leaf inductive charging pad is available as an extra here in japan.

just roll over it in the garage and go about your buisness...

parking spots (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455370)

Why don't they just embed the charging station in the ground? Electric car pulls into parking space, once turned off it lowers a contact panel to the ground and sends a few low voltage wake signals to the charging station. Charging station wakes up determines which of the small charging panels the wake signal came from and then begins to charge the battery. Heck if you wanted to get fancy you could even add more communication between the car and the charging station so the charging stations knows what the charge rate for the car is so you can have the inevitable 50 different cars with 50 different specs on the charge rate and they would all work. The only problem I can really foresee is the charging panels getting dirty, something flammable getting caught between the contact panels and the issue of rain, but a room full of engineers should be able to solve these problems, or at least make the idea more complicated for no reason what so ever.

Re:parking spots (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457578)

The rules here in the Netherlands would probably forbid it, since the contact is powered when the car is charging and during that time the contact can be touched, eliminating the stupid genes out of the gene pool in the best case, roasting a kid that dropped a ball under the car in the worst case.
There are ideas about a robotic arm with a connector.

Re:parking spots (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458276)

You could configure the under-side of the car to have a grid of potential electrical contacts, and once the panel raised up the car would negotiate which ones it was actually connected to, and only engage them. If the mating was flush (or slightly recessed) then it wouldn't be possible to touch them.

Just to be left field (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455736)

I like the idea of the "smart cards" idea, but just to change it imagine major roads with inductance grids under the road, the car charges as you drive (sort of like a bumpercar) and the amount you use on certain roads is collected by the smart card and then debited from your account. You still use the batteries to travel over roads that dont contain the grid.... but this does rely on Millions of $$$ being spent.. so the cost to charge your EV on such a system would be impractical... but the idea would fix/solve alot of problems...

Re:Just to be left field (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457706)

You have a car moving through a changing magnetic field with a huge loop of wire designed specifically to interact with that magnetic field.

You've just added a huge source of drag to the car. All you've done is made the charging less efficent and made the movement of the car less efficent.

The only reasons to do this are: (1)

elgol (1257936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456268)

1) It's convenient.

2) It's cool.

Reasons not to do this:

1) 86% efficiency for a load of 10's of kW stinks. For 10kW input power, I get 8.6kW into the car. The missing 1.4kW heats the garage. Note that the efficiency could probably be improved, but this would cost more, and be bigger.

2) It will add a lot of cost. Are you willing to pay a couple of extra $k for this?

3) It has EMI and safety issues galore. You don't want to accidentally dump a few kilowatts into your kid's trike, or your lawn mower. This can be solved, but it will add cost, and even one mishap, or even an incident where a know-nothing jury pins the blame on the system (right or wrong), will cost millions.

General Motors' EV1 did this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456640)

This anonymous comment will probably never see the light of day, but I have to get it out here anyway - the GM-designed and built EV1 was inductively charged and it worked great.

Swap the batteries for goodness sake! (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458400)

Swap the batteries for goodness sake!

  - make it easier to swap the batteries!

1) The phyisical process of changing batteries needs to be easier
2) The possible trade of poor quality batteries for good quality needs to be addressed

^ these are more organisation issues than technical. If you have an EV you can already set this up yourself for a regular long journey to work. You stow your batteries along the route with people who charge them for you for a fee.

  Unfortunately, you have to own a number of sets of batteries because trading batteries right now afaik is unworkable. But it is possible for basic routes.

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