Volkswagen teams up with ORNL to increase wireless EV charging speeds

Volkswagen teams up with ORNL to increase wireless EV charging speeds

The American arm of German motor vehicle manufacturing giant Volkswagen (WV) has reportedly signed a commercial partnership deal with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and University of Tennessee (Knoxville) a bid to make a breakthrough in the field of wireless charging of electric vehicles (EVs). According to emerging media reports, the VW Group of America signed the partnership deal through its Innovation Hub Knoxville. The main aim is to minimize losses and increase speed of inductive or wireless fast charging for EVs.

Inductive charging infrastructure is based on the principle of mutual induction to transfer power between utility grids and EVs. It doesn’t require any kind of physical contact between a utility grid and the vehicle. As it may or mayn’t require isolation transformers for safety purposes, the system needs smaller space as compared to the conductive chargers. As it has the potential to solve the problem of range anxiety, many believe it to be the future of EVs. However, there are some barriers on the way to adoption of this system for EVs.

Xin Sun, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Science & Technology at ORNL, said, “Our unique multi-phase electromagnetic coil design and power electronics have the potential to provide high power transfer levels in a compact system, reduce anxiety about the cruising range of electric vehicles and accelerate decarbonization of the US transportation sector.”

Through the research & development (R&D) partnership, VW and its partner have already managed to increase the inductive or maximum wireless EV charging speed from 6.6 kW to 120 kW. They aim to increase that charging speed to 300 kW, which would be sufficient to charge a Porsche Taycan’s big battery pack up to 80 per cent in merely 10 minutes. That would be comparable to the charging speed of a fully-electric Taycan through an existing fast charging station, but the two partners believe that their project could take some time to achieve that speed through inductive charging.

In addition to making attempts to increase wireless charging speeds, VW and ORNL work on developing plant fiber-made composite EV components for using inside the vehicles. Ways to reuse hard to recycle composite materials will also be found.

Managed by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), ORNL is the biggest multi-program science and energy research laboratory in the United States. It works in a range of fields, including clean energy, neutron science and artificial intelligence.