Radio waves could be used to charge manned or autonomous electric vessels in the future
Technology to charge electric vehicles wirelessly is being developed for marine applications in Cornwall, UK.
Marine-i and St Austell-based Perpetual Research Consultancy are advancing this technology backed by funding from the European Regional Development Fund and with support from the UK Government.
This technology would use very high frequency (VHF) waves to wirelessly charge manned and autonomous vessels while docked.
Perpetual Research director Mike Taylor said developing advanced charging systems would have a considerable impact on marine operations. “Wireless charging is already employed for electric vessels, whether they are crewed, remotely operated or fully autonomous,” said Mr Taylor.
“We believe this technology could be greatly improved by devising a way of using VHF frequencies for wireless charging. This would deliver order of magnitude increases in power transfer and lead to vastly reduced charging times.”
Perpetual Research engaged with Marine-i in recognition of the kickstart needed to implement this project. “Having access the leading-edge research available through the Marine-i project was a huge asset for this project,” said Mr Taylor. “Working with technology experts at University of Plymouth, we devised a three-stage development process.
The first step was to carry out experiments on different wire coil configurations and thoroughly evaluate their performance characteristics. “Next was a feasibility study to determine the requirements of impedance-matching networks for the new system,” said Mr Taylor.
“The final stage identified procurement costs for the key components, so we could estimate the production cost of the system when manufactured at scale.”
Marine-I programme director Professor Lars Johanning said this was taking a systematic approach to research and development. “Electric vessels will play a massive role in future marine operations,” he said. “A system that delivers faster charging, and therefore quicker turnaround times for vessels, would be a very attractive commercial proposition for operators. This unique new technology would therefore have a massive global market.”
This technology could be used to charge workboats with batteries on board.
Marine-i is a pioneering project designed to help marine technology businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly grow through research, development and innovation.
It is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Cornwall College Group, Cornwall Marine Network, Cornwall Development Co and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
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