TDK moves quickly to commercialize wireless charging for electric cars

Power can be transferred through concrete and asphalt

TDK today announced that it plans to "quickly commercialize wireless power transfer systems" for charging electric vehicles and other electric mobility applications.

The announcement was made after TDK reached a licensing agreement with Watertown, Mass-based WiTricity, a maker of resonant magnetic coupling technology.

WiTricity's technology allows vehicles enabled with wireless-charging receiving coils to park over a two-foot square pad, which then begins transferring electricity to the vehicle's battery.

WiTricity's vehicle wireless power transfer pad and receiving coil. The receiving coil is bolted to the bottom of the vehicle.

"There is widespread recognition that wireless charging will be central to the growth of the electric vehicle market," WiTricity CEO Alex Gruzen said in his company's own statement on the deal. "We are proud to help advance the market for wireless charging with such an accomplished partner as TDK."

WiTricity's wireless power transfer works by creating a magnetic field that can be several feet in size. A copper-transmitting coil transfers the power to receiving coils within that magnetic field. The power transfer only occurs when receiving coils are tuned to the proper frequency, in this case 85mHz. WiTricity's vehicle charging pad can transfer up to 3.3 kilowatts to a battery, but the company is also working on a 6.6 kilowatt version.

The wireless power transfer is up to 90% efficient, meaning only 10% of the power is lost between the transmitter and receiver. The power can also transfer through roadway materials such as concrete and asphalt, meaning it could be embedded in the ground under a parking space.

This diagram shows how a parking space might be outfitted with a wireless charging station. A controller panel, like a parking meter, would allow the vehicle operator to start the power transfer.

In 2009, TDK developed wireless power transfer coil units for smartphones and other compact electronic equipment; it is now manufacturing and selling the coils.

Last year, TDK created one of the world's smallest and lightest prototype wireless power source and capture systems, and verified its ability to transfer the required power levels at high efficiency for charging electric vehicles.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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