Made in NU: Wireless charging for electric vehicles.

Many countries today are concerned about environmental issues, and are especially worried about pollution caused by automobile emissions.   Atmospheric pollution is a growing problem for humankind, because levels of carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions continue to increase annually.  One possible solution to this problem is to encourage mass production and use of electric cars.

Faculty, researchers, and students of the School of Engineering and Digital Sciences at Nazarbayev University, are working on timely and applicable solutions to such environmental issues. Professor Mehdi Bagheri, together with a team of university students and researchers, developed a unique version of the wireless charging system for electric vehicles. 

– Today, many people call electric cars environmental (and sometimes economic) saviors, and I absolutely agree with this statement. I think we need electric cars because they are comfortable for people and environmentally friendly, with zero emissions. That is why it is important for researchers to spend time on developments related to the electric car industry. We are glad that more and more countries are coming to an understanding of this, and more and more companies are investing in the development of electric cars,”- said the scientist.

The history of electric cars, is actually longer than one might imagine.  Electric cars of some type have existed for almost 100 years. These vehicles all have something in common, they are not powered by an internal combustion engine, but rather are driven by one or more electric motor fueled by a stand-alone power source (i.e., batteries, fuel cells, condensers, etc.). Today’s electric vehicles can be charged using wired or wireless technologies.

Stationary wireless charging technology has recently become more attractive. Stationary wireless transmission of power is a very common technique of charging without the use of wires.  In order to fully charge an electric car/battery, however, you need to leave your car at the charging station for a few hours, which is very inconvenient and not comfortable. Sometimes the wait can be between 8-12 hours for the vehicle fully to charge.   

– At Nazarbayev University, a project to develop a dynamic wireless charging system for an electric car was launched in 2018. The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan and was implemented on the basis of the National Laboratory Astana (NLA) scientific center, as well as our School. Together we are developing technologies for dynamic wireless charging of electric vehicles. That is, all vehicles that are equipped with dynamic wireless charging systems can be charged when on the move. You can charge the car battery when driving down the street or even when waiting at traffic lights. Waiting at a junction or in a traffic jam will not be useless for a car that is receiving electricity free of charge from an asphalt station,” – said Mehdi Bagheri.

In addition, the cost of electric fuel will be several times less than the cost of gasoline. Coils can be installed under the asphalt for energy transmission, and the system will be able to safely operate in both hot and very cold conditions.

Today, the most advanced dynamic wireless charging systems for electric vehicles developed at the Korea Institute of Technology (KAIST) uses one extended coil as a transmitter, while the Oak-Ridge National Laboratory and the Auckland research team use segmented coil architecture.

– In our project, in order to increase the efficiency of the system, we developed and used the architecture of round and rectangular segmented coils, – said the project participant Maxim Lu, PhD student at the School of Engineering and Digital Sciences. – Now we have the task of optimizing the system and reducing losses in the transmission coils. Also, in order to provide energy for the charger, we are trying to find opportunities for the use of renewable energy sources, such as, for example, a local urban solar or wind power plant. It is important that all the components of the system for our project are developed and collected in Kazakhstan by researchers and students of Nazarbayev University.

As the young scientist noted, the project’s researchers are currently testing the efficiency of individual components and devices in order to determine the overall performance of the system and further minimize losses.  After testing and improving various components, the team then plans to focus on meeting and hopefully exceeding the effectiveness of the most advanced, currently existing dynamic wireless charging systems. Finally, the team plans to tackle the problem of how to implement such a system in real urban conditions.

– I believe that electric cars are objectively designed to gradually replace cars with conventional fuels, and this is not a question of the distant future. Moreover, it will help to significantly reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as lead to the widespread use of clean energy sources,” – said Maxim Lu.