Navigation path

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece


   Success Stories

Published: 20 August 2015  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Energy
EnvironmentClean technology and recycling
Information society
Innovation
Science & business
TransportRoad
Video reports
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  France  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

Recharging without cables: the road ahead for electric cars

Electric vehicles are undoubtedly a form of transport with a future, but many technical challenges have to be overcome before they replace petrol and diesel-fuelled cars. Researchers in Zaragoza in northern Spain are working on resolving one of the biggest problems; how to efficiently recharge batteries.

Photo of the equipment
Video in MP4 format:  ar  de  el  en  es  fa  fr  hu  it  pt  ru  tr  uk  (42.3 MB)

The scientists involved in the EU-supported UNPLUGGED project have developed an innovative wireless charging station for electric vehicles. Unlike other systems it can charge electric cars or vans in around 20 minutes.

Lourdes García, an industrial engineer with Endesa, said the position of the coils is key: “The system works with coils that are buried under the tarmac of the charging station. It’s use inductive technology. The coil is energized from the electric grid. When the vehicle is positioned correctly on the charging station, a connection is made between the coils and the car. The coils transfer energy to the car. It’s a very flexible, modular system. You can charge cars, vans or electric buses”.

Researchers say the method is easier, safer, and more vandalism-proof and has less visual impact than charging with cables.

José Francisco Sanz Osorio, an industrial engineer with the Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption said they are now turning to industry to help complete the testing: “As far as electronics are concerned, we’ve developed 99 percent of its full potential and we have what is needed to produce an efficient wireless charging station.

“The remaining work concerns coils; that is where we are lagging behind. We need to find coil manufacturers interested in this product. But these coils are so innovative, that it is still hard to find those manufacturers,” he said.

The project also aims to convince the public of the benefits of electric vehicles.

But firstly, there were major technical challenges to overcome, as Axel Barkow, an electronics engineer and project coordinator explained: “First on the level of communication, that is, how to make operable the communication between the car and the infrastructure. “Then on the level of energy transmission. That is: How can a 3,7 KW car be charged at a 50 KW charging station. And finally we were addressing the problem of positioning, because positioning the car correctly – that means positioning the coils under the station in line with those on the car. That has a big impact on charging efficiency.”

So how can drivers get the full potential of this technology?

The answer lies in developing a system that assists drivers to position their cars exactly over the charging coils, so no energy is wasted. Barkow’s colleague Jörg Küfen said their solution involves magnetic fields, optics systems and algorithms: “At the end of the project we’re now at a point where we can say, that with a camera and a radio frequency identification (RFID) support system we can enable a driver to approach the inductive charging system in the correct way.”

More research is needed to increase the charging station’s potential and to optimise its operability, according to José Francisco Sanz Osorio: “We’re working at a given frequency, but in other countries they can be working with a different frequency. So we need to harmonize those frequencies. We also need to agree on the size of the coils, on the distances of electric emissions. All this is needed for the system to be fully interoperable”.

“I think as far as cars are concerned we are very close to a serial production, said Barkow. “That is, I think, we will see cars that are equipped with this technology within the next one or two years”.

The next big issue, researchers say, is how to develop a dynamic charging system that will allow vehicles to be charged on the move on motorways and streets.

Project details

  • Project acronym:UNPLUGGED
  • Participants:Germany (Coordinator), Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, UK, France,
  • Project Reference N° 314126
  • Total cost: €3 576 692
  • EU contribution: €2 254 850
  • Duration:October 2012 - March 2015

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme, also available as a podcast.

Project web site

Project information on CORDIS

Contacts
Unit A1 - External & internal communication,
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation,
European Commission
Tel : +32 2 298 45 40
  Top   Research Information Center