Aug 082011
 

EDL researchers have built prototype equipment that allows electricity to hop over a 10-inch span with 90 percent efficiency.

Batteries are the key challenge to developing practical electric vehicles, which have the potential to dramatically cut greenhouse emissions and U.S. dependence on oil. To store enough juice to enable a car to function the way Americans expect, batteries have to be big and expensive.

Utah State University electrical engineers have made a technical breakthrough that could solve this power-storage pitfall — not by improving batteries, but by recharging them wirelessly, according to Jeff Muhs, director of USU’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory (EDL) in North Logan.

EDL researchers have built prototype equipment that allows electricity to hop over a 10-inch span with 90 percent efficiency.

“This demonstration is an extraordinary and historic step in providing technologies to electric-vehicle owners who will be able to pull their cars into garages at home and charge without having to plug in with cords,” Muhs said. “This is just the beginning.”

The demonstrated efficiency compares favorably with the amount of electricity leaking out of the existing grid or lost from wall outlets, said Hunter Wu, a young EDL engineer leading the project.

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