Thursday, 20 June 2013

Unplugged – the Exciting Promise of Wireless Power

Unplugged – the Exciting Promise of Wireless Power

If your home office looks anything like mine, you are probably inundated with electronic devices of all shapes and sizes. Your cell phone, iPod, laptop, digital camera – the list goes on, and so do the cords and transformers to keep the batteries charged. And at some point, you’ve no doubt heard the dreaded beep when your cell phone is about to lose battery in the midst of an important call. If only you had remembered to plug in your phone last night!  Clearly, there has to be a better way than frantically searching for an available outlet – and then remembering you’ve left your charger at home.
Intel wireless poewr demoWell, scientists at Intel, MIT, and other prominent research facilities are working to make the dream of a cordless future a reality. Piggybacking upon discoveries made by some of the most well-known names in electrical engineering – among them Nikola Tesla and James Clerk Maxwell – scientists are hoping to use magnetically coupled resonance to transfer energy without wiresto all your electronic devices, safer and more efficiently than ever before.
But what is this exactly? And how does it work? The MIT researchers are utilizing two copper coils which transmit energy through a magnetic field. One coil, connected to a power source, acts as a sending unit, oscillating at specific MHz frequencies. The second coil is specifically designed to resonate with the magnetic field and acts as a receiver. Unlike other methods of transferring energy, such as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic resonance has little impact on other objects in the area, and does not require a direct line of sight between the coils to work.
So far, the scientists have been limited by the experimental device’s range and energy output, but expect to develop an apparatus that can quickly be adapted for a number of commercial uses.
The benefits of this technology go far beyond convenience, when viewed from an environmental impact standpoint. Today, over 3 billion dry cell batteries are sold in the U.S. alone. And after they’re depleted, all those batteries have to go somewhere. Although some of these batteries can be recycled, or recharged, most are not, instead leeching toxic substances into our air, soil, and water supplies.
By utilizing wireless power, batteries for these devices can be reduced, or even completely eliminated, reducing the amount of resources needed to manufacture the product (goodbye power cords! weighty transformers!), and producing less waste in the long term.
Additionally, magnetically coupled resonance is a far more efficient way to transfer energy. Because these devices are designed to only interact with each other, far less energy will be needed, lowering our electrical consumption levels and reducing the amount of energy waste we are currently generating.


Wireless Power – eCoupled
Despite the amazing technological advances made in the past couple of decades, we are still tied to the wall. But maybe not for too much longer.
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