November 2, 2013


10 alternatives to the gasoline-powered engine (Fortune, 11/02/13)

Fuel-Cell Revolution: Can Toyota Save the Electric Car? (Christian Wüst, 11/02/13, Der Spiegel)

Soon there will be an electric car on the market that, believe it or not, works like a normal car. It will have a range of 600 kilometers (375 miles). Recharging it will take minutes, not hours. In fact, it won't even require an electrical outlet, because its fuel is hydrogen and it makes its own electricity. And, just as surprising, this car isn't the product of some bold startup company trying to secure venture capital -- but of the world's largest automaker.

Electric power without lines (Hundreds of companies are investing in electricity transferred through magnetic fields. How will it work, and will it replace wires? (Brian Dumaine, 11/01/13, Fortune)

[W]ireless electricity is finally gaining some traction. More than one hundred companies including startups such as WiTricity and ProxybyPower and giants such as Toyota (TM), Intel (INTC), Samsung, and Foxconn are investing in the technology. The challenge: to take the wires out of the power equation by transmitting electricity through magnetic fields.
When in the atmosphere, electricity exists as a magnetic field. The trick is to capture it safely to recharge devices. Today's electric toothbrushes charge wirelessly -- as power is transmitted through a magnetic field from the charger to the brush. You can already buy wireless recharging pads: Place your cellphone on a pad that's plugged into the wall, and it will recharge. These pads, however, have their limitations -- the cellphone has to be in the right position, and it can take a long time. A New Zealand company called PowerbyProxy has demonstrated a system where you can put multiple cellphones on a pad in any position, and it will charge the devices as fast as a traditional charger. Samsung last month invested $4 million in the company.

The next step: charging without being so tied to a pad. That's the technology a Watertown, Mass., company named WiTricity is developing. Based on work done at MIT, the technology -- on which the company holds exclusive patents -- uses magnetic resonance to move power through the air -- which means electricity can be moved farther distances without a wire. The way it works: Two devices resonate at the same frequency so that the magnetic waves can travel very precisely from one point to another. Plug a resonator into a wall outlet, and a device installed on a cellphone or an electric car receives the power and starts recharging. WiTricity says its system can move an impressive 3,300 watts -- enough to charge an electric car -- with little efficiency loss. Says Eric Giler, the CEO of WiTricity: "We all love electricity and are willing to do almost anything to get it. It will be the last thing to go wireless, but it will go wireless."

Posted by at November 2, 2013 10:56 AM

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