10 September 2018
Professor Grant Covic envisions a future where we will drive in city streets that power electric cars wirelessly, using green energy sources.
He is a pioneer in inductive power research at the University of Auckland, and recently spoke at our Singapore and Kuala Lumpur alumni and friends events.
Covic’s groundbreaking research will dramatically affect our everyday lives, as his investigations uncover what was once thought to be impossible.
He told guests at the event that charging electric vehicles while stopped at traffic lights, in a carpark, and even while moving, would be more convenient than current charging methods. It would also increase the practicality of electric vehicles, and lessen the kilowatt consumption of households that charge them, which can put a strain on the network.
“Twenty five percent of greenhouse gases we create come from transportation. If we can cut that down, it makes a big impact.”
He added that while conventional energy is stable, renewable energies fluctuate, which makes the network unstable. However, batteries are able to absorb those fluctuations.
“Electric vehicles are travelling around with a lot of batteries. If we can connect them all the time, we can actually absorb this energy and we can take a lot more of this green energy on-board.
“We can grow more green energy and we’re unlikely to have foreign exploitation of a country’s natural wind and solar resources, which perhaps has been a concern with other easily exportable natural resources.”
Since the mid-90s, Covic has worked with Professor John Boys to develop the technology of resonant Inductive (contactless) Power Transfer (IPT) for materials handling and electric vehicles.
“We really want a vision that is invisible to the users. It’s natural, you park your car, you walk away and you can be charged.
“If they’re always connected, we can keep the batteries in a really good state of charge. If that’s the case, when you get home, you don’t have to charge your vehicle from a low state of charge, you can go home and only do a top up charge. That enables us to do a number of things. It enables us not to have to rewire our homes, which is quite expensive. It enables us to focus our charging on locations where we are likely to be, and allows fleet vehicles, like taxis, to be electric.”
Covic’s research will revolutionise the way we use electric vehicles in the future.
“People thought it wasn’t possible but its taken 100 years and suddenly it has become commercially practical.”