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OHM electric bicycle.
Electric bicycles, like this on by OHM, might someday be powered using wirelessly power transfer technology.

Wirelessly Charging E-Bikes on the Move

Harry Valentine considers applying Tesla's wireless power to propel light electric vehicles.

By Harry Valentine

During the period of the turn between the 19th and 20th century, the electro-physicist Nikola Tesla developed the idea of transmitting electric power through the atmosphere. The idea evolved from his work into transmitting electric power over long distances using alternating current, instead of direct current. At the time, it was nearly impossible to convert high-amperage, low-voltage DC power into low-amperage, high-voltage DC power and reverse the conversion at the other end.

Tesla expanded on the research of such electro-physics notables such as Maxwell, Ampere, Faraday and Gauss into electromagnetic fields when he developed the AC power transformer. It used the electromagnetic field of AC power change high-current, low-voltage AC power into low-current, high-voltage AC power that could transmit for with less energy loss over longer distances. A percentage of the population has expressed concern over the electromagnetic fields that emanate from high-voltage AC transmission lines.

Magnetically Coupled Resonance:

One of the recent advances in atmospheric transmission of electric power has been the development of magnetically coupled resonance. There are many applications for this technology despite the short distances over which it transmits power at 80% to 90% efficiency. It can provide power at a small-circuit racecourse for competition amongst radio-controlled scale model electric vehicles. As the technology develops, the level of power being transmitted would increase and may provide sufficient energy to enable a group of e-bikes to race around a short-circuit racecourse.

Local power distribution companies may use magnetically coupled resonance to get into the e-bike rental business. The e-bikes would operate on designated routes within select cities, where transmitters would be installed at regular intervals. Some of the routes may be already existing bicycle routes and paths along which the e-bikes may travel. One advantage of operating the e-bikes on transmitted power is that the e-bike would always be ready for service, regardless of the state of charge in any batteries. Another advantage would be the promise of extended operating range for the e-bikes.

Bicycle paths have been built along power transmission lines in many locations around the world and e-bikes are allowed access along such paths. It may be possible to install magnetically coupled resonance transmission technology at each tower or pylon along the electrical transmission lines, with a small percentage of power being accessed from the lines. Instead of being restricted to an operating range of 25-miles (40-km), e-bikes that receive electrical energy being transmitted through magnetically coupled resonance technology may travel for greatly extended distances.

In the future, electrical power-transmission companies may build bicycle paths along their rights-of-way and charge an access fee to riders of e-bikes that wish to travel along such paths and source electro-propulsive energy transmitted without wires. In some regions of the world, people may commute from the outlying areas by e-bike along paths that follow the electric power lines into larger commercial centers. The e-bikes may travel along designated routes within cities where magnetically coupled resonance technology provides the propulsive power.

At the present time, magnetically coupled resonance technology is restricted to transmitting power over short distances. The transmission distance corresponds to the spacing between transmission towers and between streetlight pylons along city streets and urban paths. Electric power is available at these towers and pylons, as is much of the technology that can connect the readily available power supply to magnetically coupled resonance technology. Part of the infrastructure need to install magnetically coupled resonance technology along paths within cities and between urban areas already exists.

The challenge is to take the next step, perhaps along an extended bicycle path that attracts much low-powered, 2-wheeled commuter traffic. Riders of e-bikes with special licenses may access such a path and travel part of their journey using battery power and part of their journey using wireless electricity. It is likely that wireless power transmission technology would become commercially available over the next few years.

Power transmission companies may then have the option to develop business plans that include low powered vehicles as potential customers. They may provide paths that run along their transmission lines and provide wireless electricity to riders of e-bikes that purchase access permits or transponders from the power companies. The cost of the permits and/or transponders would cover the cost of passage along the path as well as the cost of the wireless electric power.

It may be possible to develop a system whereby each user pays only for the cost of their own passage along the paths and for the amount of electric power that their e-bike consumes. Where markets are sufficiently large, it may be viable for power transmission companies to provide e-bike access along paths built along their rights-of-way and sell electric power. The option would likely enhance the usage of e-bikes.

Times Article Viewed: 6006
Published: 26-Sep-2011

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