Wireless power transfer

The area of wireless power transmission is very interesting. The technology is in its infancy but the overall benefits from its maturation could be significant to society as a whole. World population is expected to continue to grow exponentially. Five sixths of the world’s population lives in developing nations. Most developing nations such as China, India, and Pakistan are rapidly improving their standard of living. All of these trends point to an energy demand that will grow at even a larger rate.

Wireless power transmission could one day allow us to generate solar power on a satellite and am it down to Earth, transmit power to a water treatment plant for a disaster relief operation or power a flying communication relay station from a terrestrial station. There are a few engineering hurtles yet to overcome to make this technology viable to today’s investors, but with the rising demand for energy and the rapid improvements being made it is Just a matter of time before wireless power transmission becomes an industry of its own.

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In the late 19th century, shortly after the introduction of AC power, Nikolas Tests (an inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best now for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electrical supply system and often called the greatest US electrical engineer during his time) began the development of a system for the global transmission of electrical energy without interconnecting wires.

Nikolas Tests devoted much effort to develop a system for transferring large amount of power over considerable distance. His main goal was to bypass the electrical-wire grid, but for a number of financial and technical difficulties, this project was never completed. His invention, however, required large scale construction of 200 Ft tall masts. He developed various methods that can be used for his wireless power transmission and have been given great credits and patents for it.

Tests preferred to use the passage of current through the atmosphere and other natural medium. Wireless energy transfer or wireless power transmission (WEPT) is the process that takes place in any system where electrical energy is transmitted from a power source to an electrical load without the use of wire. Wireless transmission is ideal in cases where instantaneous or continuous energy transfer is needed.

The potential applications of wireless power transfer include charging of mobile phones and laptops, radio-frequency identification (REID), electrically charged vehicles, biomedical sensors, space solar power satellite (SSP), solar energy to earth, and in spying circuits devices which if contain a power source can have greater probability of detection etc. The various methods of wireless power transfer are Microwave/ Radio wave, Plastic sheet, Inductive coupling, and Lasers.

Among these methods of wireless power transfer, using microwave has some advantages over other methods such as its use for longer distances with relatively higher efficiency and more mature technology. Highly efficient, super directive array configuration would have the potential of concentrated and directed microwave beam that can provide higher efficiency for longer distances. Wireless communication using radio frequency (RFC) waves or microwave is a very familiar topic. However, wireless power transmission (WEPT) is yet to be so, though its history dates back to the late nineteenth century.

The year 1888 was marked by a demonstration on wireless transmission of pulsed power generated at mezzo. Since then, only a few demonstrations or feasibility studies on WEPT have been published at discrete time intervals. Among these, the most significant is a feasibility study reported by a French research group in 1997 for a terrestrial (ground-to-ground) WEPT project. Its aim was to deliver 10 k power from the grid system, through AC-DC- microwave-DC-AC conversion, to a 0. 7 km distant small tourist spot across a mountain in La Reunion Island, an overseas territory of France.

The project is termed ‘Grand- Basin WEPT model’ after the name of the tourist village. It is noteworthy that since 1969 (the year marked by the successful landing of the first manned space craft on the moon surface) until now, the main thrust of WEPT has been on the concept of pace-to-ground (extraterrestrial) transmission of energy using microwave beam. This concept aims towards tapping the round-the-clock available solar energy from outer space in the form of photovoltaic DC power by a low earth orbit satellite.

The tapped energy would be converted into a microwave beam for transmission to the designated earth stations where it would be rectified into DC using a device termed ‘Recreant’ (receiving and rectifying antenna). A pilot project based around this concept, named ‘SSP (Solar Power Satellite) 2000’, is still under preliminary investigation by the Japanese Space and Astronomical Science Society. Nevertheless, for a number of reasons the chances of the terrestrial WEPT becoming an affordable reality are brighter than its extraterrestrial counterpart.

Apart from the time frame for implementation, huge size of recentness and requirement for energy storage between two passes of the satellite, the other crucial points which bear against the extraterrestrial WEPT are affordability, simplicity, controllability, maintainability, reliability, commercial exportability, and health and safety issues. Industries are investigating the latest wireless power technologies to improve versatility, reduce sots, maintain connectivity, and eliminate the need to replace batteries.

More than one industrial and end-use applications are evaluating WEPT. One such end-use application is induction cooking which utilizes WEPT, or a variant of WEPT, due to a range of reasons such as better operation, cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. Large and continually operating industries such as electric power plants are interested in evaluating WEPT as a power source alternative for sensors and transducers. The portable electronics industry is perhaps the most revolutionary in terms of the rapid progress in the application and centralization of WEPT.

A subset of portable devices that utilize wireless data communications such as mobile phones, ‘Pods, and wireless computer peripherals, find WEPT particularly appealing. WEPT is seen as a natural complement to wireless data communications, completing the promising of a truly wireless device. The wireless power charger market is becoming competitive, with several companies developing commercial devices and retrofit gadgets for powering portable electronics.

The surge in the growth of mobile electronics in the past decade has greatly enhanced the market potential for wireless rower chargers. Due to the relatively low cost and high efficiency of power line transmission, wireless power transmission is only practical under two general circumstances: 1) In order to transport necessary power over an impossible or impractical barrier for wires or 2) Rapid deployment of assets for disaster recovery or military operations that could be aided by wireless power transmission more than by local generators.

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