The Future of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

 

Seven days ago, a Silicon Valley energy startup CEO contacted me to help write a $1,000,000 grant proposal. I worked over the weekend researching the funding opportunities at the Department of Energy and writing a first draft of the proposal. (The world of startups requires 24/7 availability and everything is due now.) We reviewed that draft together yesterday, first to align on content and second to confirm he likes my work. (I don’t come cheap. He likes it.) Since I had yet to sign an NDA, I queried whether anything we had spoken about so far was under wraps, and he said no.

So I thought I would outline for you what he aims to demonstrate through a working prototype by the end of 2022.

Imagine a world where EVs can be HyperfastCharged 1,000 times faster than current technology. Instead of charging your Tesla or other EV for an hour every 200 miles or so, you can simply drive over a “charging zone” and get a full charge in seconds. In small towns, charging zones could be located at stop signs or service stations. This would relieve range anxiety for many potential EV customers.

As you may know, within the next couple of years, autonomous, self-driving long-haul freight trucks will be a reality. Imagine autonomous driverless trucks driving freeways in an EV lane with a HyperfastCharged zone every 100 miles. Long-haul trucks could be driving 24 hours per day, minus loading and unloading stops. (I know, this sucks for truck drivers. Another example of AI replacing workers.)

Here’s what the working prototype (non-solar) would look like:

The key material component is the gyrotron (1), a powerful beam-based technology that can transmit incredible bursts of energy. For the working prototype, a $500,000+ gyrotron will be purchased.

A custom transmitter plate and a receiver plate/rectenna will be created (2) (3).

The gyrotron and transmitter plate will be placed below the road surface, creating the HyperfastChargedcharging zone, and the receiver plate installed on a modified EV, connected to special capacitors (4) that would charge any standard EV battery (5).

Lamborghini and MIT have partnered to produce supercapacitors, which may be used if available in time.

In production, HyperfastCharged zones would be located near smart energy storing systems that receive their energy from solar farms. (Note: There is also a custom software component where the HyperfastCharged zone recognizes an appropriate EV, evaluates its need, and delivers the charge.)

The crazy California goal to have all-electric vehicles by 2035 is impossible to achieve at present, since the current electrical grid cannot sustain such a need. The only proposal that makes sense is installing a set of new smaller nuclear reactors, but does anyone believe nuclear would be approved in time?

This technology offers another approach that, when demonstrated, can be a game-changer.

For those of you interested in the research related to the viability of using a gyrotron in this way, see the research review on “Wireless power transfer via Subterahertz-wave”  written in 2018 by Sei Mizojiri and Kohei Shimamura.

[Did I use too many TMs? Hey, TMs are fun!]

Published in Science & Technology
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  1. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Very interesting, our company was recently contacted by a Philly firm to develop something very similar.  My coworker is working on prototyping the transmitter plates.

    • #1
  2. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    “In production, HyperfastCharged zones would be located near smart energy storing systems that receive their energy from solar farms.”

    And what happens at night, or when the sky is overcast, or it is snowing hard?

    Presumably the answer will be ‘battery storage’….if you calculate what it would cost to provide sufficient storage to account for several days of bad weather, you will come up with some unpleasantly large numbers.

    • #2
  3. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    • #3
  4. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    David Foster (View Comment):

    “In production, HyperfastCharged zones would be located near smart energy storing systems that receive their energy from solar farms.”

    And what happens at night, or when the sky is overcast, or it is snowing hard?

    Presumably the answer will be ‘battery storage’….if you calculate what it would cost to provide sufficient storage to account for several days of bad weather, you will come up with some unpleasantly large numbers.

    Yes. It’s pie-in-the-sky to think this would work 100% of the time in 100% of locations, even just in California. Or even just the I-80 corridor. I would think a revolution in how solar farms work would also be part of the package.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    If they’ve retained the movie rights to the term “gyrotron” it might be worth investing a few dollars in it. 

    • #5
  6. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mark Alexander: The only proposal that makes sense is installing a set of new smaller nuclear reactors, but does anyone believe nuclear would be approved in time?

    I think using a nuclear reactor would not be feasible.  However, nuclear batteries are another thing altogether:

    https://getelectricvehicle.com/nuclear-battery-for-electric-cars/

    While such a power source would be fantastic, it has the huge problem of being the other N-word . . .

    • #7
  8. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here?  Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    • #8
  9. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here? Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    I’d pay to see that!

    • #9
  10. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here? Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    Shielding would be government controlled, but you can trust them to not target civilians.

    • #10
  11. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    • #11
  12. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here? Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    LOL, I was thinking similar but I liked the way you expressed it.  ;)

    • #12
  13. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here? Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    Seriously, don’t think volts, think GHz that is converted to watts in the receiver plate (rectenna)

    • #13
  14. Captain French Moderator
    Captain French
    @AlFrench

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here? Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    Hence the “rectenna”.

    • #14
  15. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    • #15
  16. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    What kind of shielding are we talking about here? Not really looking to get 100k volts up my keester.

    I’d pay to see that!

    It sure would help with constipation . . .

    • #16
  17. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    • #17
  18. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    • #18
  19. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    What kind of “smart storage” are they talking about?  The only storage facility (other than batteries) that I’ve heard of that seems viable to store energy for more than a few hours, is the hot salt bath approach.  But that would mean converting the electricity from the solar panels into heat, storing it in the salt bath and then later using the heat to, I assume, boil water and turn a turbine?  Talk about low efficiency.

    • #19
  20. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    This (from last weekend’s This Week in Pictures) is why I’m not that interested in EVs at this point:

    • #20
  21. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Added point: An RFID would be used to see the vehicle coming so that the charge burst takes place when the EV enters the zone.

    • #21
  22. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    What kind of “smart storage” are they talking about? The only storage facility (other than batteries) that I’ve heard of that seems viable to store energy for more than a few hours, is the hot salt bath approach. But that would mean converting the electricity from the solar panels into heat, storing it in the salt bath and then later using the heat to, I assume, boil water and turn a turbine? Talk about low efficiency.

    Another innovation to come.

    • #22
  23. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    The efficiency of a plug and socket in transferring power is close to 100% if you use a big enough conductor. The air gap will cost you. 

    • #23
  24. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    The efficiency of a plug and socket in transferring power is close to 100% if you use a big enough conductor. The air gap will cost you.

    There’s no relation between the two. No volts are being transferred. It’s a beaming tech. Read up on the gyrotron.

    • #24
  25. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    The efficiency of a plug and socket in transferring power is close to 100% if you use a big enough conductor. The air gap will cost you.

    There’s no relation between the two. No volts are being transferred. It’s a beaming tech. Read up on the gyrotron.

    A quick search shows me 50% to maybe a maximum of 70% efficiency. A third to half of the potential power wasted. And those are lab experiments, not stuff buried in a road.

    • #25
  26. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    Transmitters in the streets? What happens with potholes and frozen moisture in the winter?  How efficient is transmitting power over the air?  Devices such as cell phones even today require some form of contact. 

    • #26
  27. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    The efficiency of a plug and socket in transferring power is close to 100% if you use a big enough conductor. The air gap will cost you.

    There’s no relation between the two. No volts are being transferred. It’s a beaming tech. Read up on the gyrotron.

    A quick search shows me 50% to maybe a maximum of 70% efficiency. A third to half of the potential power wasted.

    That sir is the nature of all thermodynamics, which is the physics of energy conversion.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch…

    • #27
  28. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    The efficiency of a plug and socket in transferring power is close to 100% if you use a big enough conductor. The air gap will cost you.

    There’s no relation between the two. No volts are being transferred. It’s a beaming tech. Read up on the gyrotron.

    A quick search shows me 50% to maybe a maximum of 70% efficiency. A third to half of the potential power wasted.

    That sir is the nature of all thermodynamics, which is the physics of energy conversion.

    There is not such thing as a free lunch…

    The gyrotron is not doing any energy conversion; it runs on electricity, so thermodynamics don’t enter into it, except for heat that is thrown off the transmitter. The current slower technology of hooking the EV up to a wire is almost completely lossless in that application.

    Now, batteries do heat up when charged, and that’s a loss. They heat up more the faster they are charged, all else being equal, so I think that would also be a challenge to this system. That, plus I think most batteries wear out faster when they are charged very quickly.

    • #28
  29. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So this is not battery based and and receives energy remotely (via air waves) from a gyrotron?

    Yep. Transmitter under the road surface to receiver under the EV.

    That doesn’t seem very practical.

    I’m thinking extremely low efficiency.

    Why? You may want to read up on the gyrotron.

    The efficiency of a plug and socket in transferring power is close to 100% if you use a big enough conductor. The air gap will cost you.

    There’s no relation between the two. No volts are being transferred. It’s a beaming tech. Read up on the gyrotron.

    A quick search shows me 50% to maybe a maximum of 70% efficiency. A third to half of the potential power wasted.

    That sir is the nature of all thermodynamics, which is the physics of energy conversion.

    There is not such thing as a free lunch…

    The gyrotron is not doing any energy conversion; it runs on electricity, so thermodynamics don’t enter into it, except for heat that is thrown off the transmitter. The current slower technology of hooking the EV up to a wire is almost completely lossless in that application.

    Now, batteries do heat up when charged, and that’s a loss. They heat up more the faster they are charged, all else being equal, so I think that would also be a challenge to this system. That, plus I think most batteries wear out faster when they are charged very quickly.

    Ah, good points. Thank you.

    • #29
  30. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    “On Tuesday, passengers aboard a Ryanair flight headed to Ibiza, an archipelago of Spain, were evacuated while still on the ground in Barcelona after a phone caught fire. … the phone caught fire while it was being charged by a portable battery pack.”

    https://www.newsweek.com/ryanair-flight-evacuated-after-phone-catches-fire-plane-1052418

    • #30