Autonomous Vehicles, New Mobility & the Built Environment, Electric Vehicles
A Concrete Plan for Wireless Charging #IDTechEx
by Ken Pyle, Managing Editor • December 13, 2018 •
The concept of wireless charging sounds great until literally, the rubber hits the road. It is one thing to make the technology work in a lab but creating a wireless charging system that easily integrates into an existing street and withstands the stress and pounding of heavy vehicle traffic is an entirely different challenge.
Magment’s approach is unique in the world of electronics as they mix, low-cost, recycled ferrite material into concrete (or asphalt, as indicated on their website), providing mechanical reinforcement while magnetizing the cured concrete. Embedding a coil into the concrete mixture allows them to create an antenna that radiates power to a vehicle-mounted receiver and achieve power transfer efficiencies of up to 96%.
Speaking at the 2018 IDTechExpo, Magment CEO and Co-Founder, Mauricio Esguerra, discusses how this is a relatively low-cost way to add wireless charging to a city’s infrastructure. Poured as regular concrete, Magment’s solution could add wireless charging in parking lots, bus stops and traffic signals to provide opportunistic charging. Longer-term, it could be used to roads that wirelessly charge vehicles (reducing the size of the batteries needed in those vehicles).
It also has dual-use potential, such as traffic counting (e.g. replacing the loops that Departments of Transportation embed in the road). As an example of such an application, Magment is working with another German start-up, Park Here, to integrate with their self-powered sensors and associated parking management system.¹
Esguerra indicates that one of the first tests of the Magment concrete is in Finland to provide wireless charging at bus stops for the fixed route, shared Sensible4 autonomous shuttle. They are also testing with Linkker electric buses and have plans for a trial in Beijing. Although they have tested dynamic road charging up to 55 MPH, he is hopeful that the introduction of GaN (Gallium nitride) semiconductor technology will allow for faster switching between blocks.
This is just the start, as the concrete could be used for other use-cases, such counters with integrated induction stovetop, electric water taxis or, as Esguerra points out, a magnetized tunnel to help propel a passive hyperloop (e.g. magnets attached to the vehicle and energized from the electrified concrete tunnel).
¹ The idea of interconnected concrete blocks with sensing and, even communications capability (e.g. built-in fiber optics) is also being championed by Integrated Roadways.