Wenatchee is an amazing small town in western Washington state – and it shows us the future in how to wirelessly charge up electric buses and taxis and trucks – and probably from there, some day, to electric cars.
Since March 2018, Link Transit, in Wenatchee, has been using the wireless charging installed at a transit stop at Columbia Station to quickly charge up the city’s EV buses. The buses have driven more than 50,000 miles, and the system has delivered over 50 megawatts, displaced 16,000 gallons of diesel fuel and prevented 181 tons of CO2 gas being emitted into the air.
This is the story of the future – and it is a technology that saves the environment and saves money, too. It is what will make it possible to expand the world’s fleet of electric vehicles, helping us to create a sustainable world.
“Inductive charging systems are highly efficient and automatic. Our technology is based on the scientific principle of resonant magnetic induction, and provides fast, automated opportunity charging for electric vehicles with no moving parts. An alternating current is fed into a resonant transmitting coil which creates a magnetic field. The magnetic field is captured by a resonant receiving coil creating an alternating current in that coil.”
Momentum Dynamics developed this technology, and the story of how, and why, is fascinating. It involves developing technology for the international space station and Antarctica – the most extreme environments imaginable.
Founder Andy Daggs described it in this podcast earlier this year, and it is truly worth listening to because of the many useful lessons he shares about how disruptive new technologies can be developed and turned into great business opportunities.
Wireless induction charging operates through pads in the pavement that are activated when a bus or taxi waits on it. It is safe, and a person who stands on it will not be affected at all, because only an equipped vehicle can activate it. There are no cables, and the charging is very quick.
This is how the company explains it:
“The vehicle side of the wireless charging system comprises a receiver pad and an electronics module. High frequency AC is converted to DC which directly charges the vehicle’s battery. The ground side of the Wireless Charging System consists of a charging pad installed in the pavement, which is connected to an electronics cabinet. High frequency AC power is generated by the electronics cabinet and transmitted by the charging pad to the vehicle.”
Here is what it looks like in Wenatchee where the electric buses charge themselves as they wait for passengers.
And it also is a technology being used by taxis in Oslo, Norway. The global vehicle manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover agreed last year to join Nordic taxi operator Cabonline (NorgesTaxi AS); the region’s largest charge point operator Fortum Recharge; Momentum Dynamics; and the City of Oslo to build wireless, high-powered charging infrastructure for taxis in the Norwegian capital, in a program known as ‘ElectriCity’. “The project will be the first wireless high-powered charging system for electric taxis in the world and by providing a charging infrastructure model that can be implemented almost anywhere, it will help the rapid adoption of electric vehicles globally,” Jaguar said.
The charging system means that taxi drivers don’t lose any time – and thus money – in fuelling their vehicles. While queuing for their next fare, each taxi can charge using multiple charging plates rated at 50-75 kilowatts each that are installed in the ground in series at pick-up-drop-off points. “The system, which uses no cables and is situated below ground, requires no physical connection between charger and vehicle, engages automatically and provides on average 6-8 minutes of energy per each charge up to 50kW. The taxi then receives multiple charges throughout the day on its return to the rank, maintaining a high battery state of charge and the ability to remain in 24/7 service without driving range restrictions.”
Being involved in ElectriCity is part of the company’s commitment to ‘making electric vehicles easier to own and use’, said Jaguar Land Rover CEO Prof Sir Ralf Speth. “The taxi industry is the ideal test bed for wireless charging, and indeed for high-mileage electric mobility across the board.”
As part of the agreement, Jaguar provided 25 Jaguar I-PACE models to Cabonline, the largest taxi network in the Nordic countries, which will operate the fleet. Its SUV has been designed to enable Momentum Dynamic’s wireless charging technology, making it the ideal vehicle to drive the initiative, the company said.
In April 2021, Momentum Dynamics achieved CE designation which is a critical step in expanding the network of chargers throughout Europe as it prepares to work with other major automakers, delivery vans, trucks, and buses.