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South Korea develops wireless power transfer technology for transport systems

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the Korea Railroad Research Institute have teamed up for a wireless power transfer technology that can be used in high capacity transportation systems.

The new technology can supply 60 kilohertz and 180 kilowatt hours of power remotely at a constant rate to railways, harbor freight, and airport transportation and logistics, according to a report.

This was originally developed as part of an electric vehicle system launched by Kaist in 2011 called the on-line electric vehicle. An O.L.E.V. allows the transfer of electrical power through magnetic fields imbedded in the roads. While a conventional electric vehicle is required to take a stop to fully charge its battery, O.L.E.V. can charge even while it is travelling. This ability translates to a smaller reserve battery, delivering lower costs and weight than the conventional E.V.s.

The prototypes of O.L.E.V., a bus and a tram, obtained 20 kHz and 100 kW power at an 85 percent transmission rate, while keeping a 20-centimeter air gap between the underbody of the vehicle and the road surface.

"We have greatly improved the O.L.E.V. technology from the early development stage by increasing its power transmission density by more than three times,” said Professor Dong-Ho Cho, Kaist’s Director of Center for Wireless Power Transfer Technology Business Development.

According to Prof. Cho, collecting power wirelessly for trains will dramatically reduce the costs of railway wear and tear. Likewise, this will eliminate the need for power rails, including electrical poles, required for the establishment of a railway system, as lesser space will be used.

“Tunnels will be built on a smaller scale, lowering construction costs. In addition, it will be helpful to overcome major obstacles that discourage the construction of high speed railway systems such as noise levels and problems in connecting pantograph and power rails,” he added.

With all of the improvements in the technology, as well as the benefits that can be gained from it, Prof. Cho said O.L.E.V. is “one step closer” to be utilized at a large scale.

Kaist and K.R.R.I. have successfully demonstrated the wireless power transfer technology to the public on the railroad tracks at Osong Station in South Korea. They aim to apply the technology to trams this coming May and to high speed trains in September. – EcoSeed Staff

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