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New Methods for Wirelessly Transmitting Power
New Methods for Wirelessly Transmitting Power
Engineers have developed a new method for wirelessly transmitting power throughout a room that enables users to charge electronic devices seamlessly.
Technology Briefing

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As recently documented in the journal PLOS ONE, engineers at Disney Research have developed a new method for wirelessly transmitting power throughout a room that enables users to charge electronic devices as seamlessly as they now connect to WiFi hotspots, eliminating the need for electrical cords or charging cradles.

The researchers demonstrated their method, called quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), inside a specially built 16-by-16-foot room at their lab. They safely generated near-field standing magnetic waves that filled the interior of the room, making it possible to power several cellphones, fans and lights simultaneously.

This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi. This, in turn, could enable new applications for robots and other small mobile devices by eliminating the need to replace batteries and wires for charging.

The researchers said with this work, we've demonstrated room-scale wireless power, but there's no reason not to scale this down to the size of a toy chest or up to the size of a warehouse.

Wireless power transmission has long been a technological dream. Celebrated inventor Nikola Tesla famously demonstrated a wireless lighting system in the 1890s and proposed a system for transmitting power long distances to homes and factories, though it never came to fruition. Today, most wireless power transmission occurs over very short distances, typically involving charging stands or pads.

The QSCR method involves inducing electrical currents in the metalized walls, floor and ceiling of a room, which in turn generate uniform magnetic fields that permeate the room's interior. This enables power to be transmitted efficiently to receiving coils that operate at the same resonant frequency as the magnetic fields. The induced currents in the structure are channeled through discrete capacitors, which isolate potentially harmful electrical fields.

Simulations show that the Disney system can transmit 1.9 kilowatts of power while meeting federal safety guidelines. That is equivalent to simultaneously charging 320 smart phones.

In the demonstration, the researchers constructed a 16-by-16-foot room with aluminum walls, ceiling and floor bolted to an aluminum frame. A copper pole was placed in the center of the room; a small gap was created in the pole, into which discrete capacitors were inserted.

It is the capacitors that set the electromagnetic frequency of the structure and confine the electric fields. Devices operating at the low megahertz frequency can receive power almost anywhere in the room. At the same time, the magnetic waves at that frequency don't interact with everyday materials, so other objects in the room are unaffected.

Though the demonstration room was specially constructed, one of the researchers said it likely will be possible to reduce the need for metalized walls, ceilings and floors in the future. And it should be possible to retrofit existing structures with modular panels or conductive paint. Larger spaces could be accommodated by using multiple copper poles.

Reader Comment

First this is cool as heck. Are they looking into the effects on living tissue if the Capacitors go bad? In reference to the statement "Potentially Harmful Waves?, would this be a redundant type safety feature?, such as a backup switchover? Also what effect will the magnetic saturation have on old technologies like an old crt T.V if eventually applied to a residential setting? I probably shouldn't stand so close to the Microwave. Thank you for your time, I apologize for all the questions.

Roman, Deallinois
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