Alternative energy sources should, according to many vocal experts, be one of the main points of concern for the humanity in the 21st century. Some visionaries heard and understood this very well, which is why there is a number of large scale projects in the world today, dedicated to finding the best way to leave behind the ‘dirty energy’. In the car industry, which has long been dominated by oil lobbies, we are finally witnessing the upsurge in interest for electric cars. But, given their obvious shortcomings, can electric cars go full mainstream? Scientists are actively searching for the answer to that and car tyres might just be a part of the solution.
The biggest problem the electric car is facing today is power management. In order for a regular electric vehicle to achieve the ability to cross a distance worth mentioning without the need to recharge, the battery which gives the vehicle power must be fairly big. Some of the best electric vehicle models today can go for up to 250-300 miles in one charge but the price to pay is a relatively high weight of the car.
Now, this can have some positive side effects, for example – if properly designed, the electric vehicle can utilize its heaviness and significantly improve stability on the road (we all remember the perfect safety score Tesla’s Model S achieved; the testers could not even manage to turn it upside down). However, large mass requires a lot of energy to move, so the batteries, no matter how big and long lasting, are not energy efficient. The solution to this problem lies somewhere else and scientists may be on the road to find just where it is.
The idea of wireless charging has been around ever since the beginning of the 20th century and the research of Nikola Tesla, but today it is closer than ever to becoming a part of our daily lives. The technology, albeit prototypical, already exists, the only thing left is to discover how to apply it properly.
As for the application in car industry, there have been ideas that roads should be equipped with power transmitters which would, with the help of receivers installed in vehicles, supply the vehicles with necessary electricity during the ride. There are two problems with this idea, one of which is infrastructure related (the price and the feasibility of installing the transmitters into the roads) and the other car related (where to place the receiver). The first problem is not in the scope of this article, however, the idea how to solve the second one is.
Let’s just say that if this idea comes through, we will be driving our electric cars all day long without a break, but we won’t be able to find cheap tyres in shops anymore. The idea is to have steel parts in our tyres converted into wireless energy receivers. This way, no additional parts would be necessary, plus the receivers would be as close to the road as possible at any time, thus ensuring the optimal energy transfer.
How plausible is this concept? Well, as previously mentioned, the prototypes are already there. The only thing seriously inhibiting the progress in this direction is the problem with road infrastructure. However, where there’s a will there’s a way, so we should hope that we will see the concept become reality in the next few years. And once we start charging our cars with the help of our roads, using the solar power is the logical next step. The future is near, and it looks cleaner than ever.