Wireless power is emerging as a popular concept as the profusion of personal and portable electronic devices has created a need for a convenient means to power these gadgets, eliminating the inconvenience and mess of several chargers and wires. Industries too echo this sentiment, as wires represent a burden in terms of cost and maintenance. Scientists are considering several technologies for such applications.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Wireless Power Supplies and Contactless Energy Transfer, finds that induction-based wireless power could represent the next wave in powering portable electronics. It could also enable new applications in other sectors such as healthcare for powering implants to increase patient convenience and quality of life.
Wireless power has tremendous potential in various industries including consumer electronics, automotive, and process control. The power and energy industry is investing substantially in research on large-scale wireless energy transfer, as space-based solar power systems are attracting attention as an alternative form of energy to meet energy demands in the long term. If adopted, this technology will facilitate the use of all electrical devices, which is a highly sought-after purchase factor when choosing cell phones or laptops.
Technical Insights Research Analysts Sharmishta S. and Agata Jozwicka say: "Moreover, natural deposits such as coal and petroleum are rapidly depleting, and one day, alternative energy sources will be needed. If Earth-based natural energy sources will not satisfy the world's energy needs, space solar power systems could become the only alternative."
As the home automation trend is catching on, several companies have developed wireless power technologies such as charging pads for use in homes and offices to power personal electronic devices.
Meanwhile, universities are researching ways to improve efficiency over longer ranges. Wireless power transfer is highly efficient at short distances; however, there tend to be substantial power losses when the transfer distance increases. In the case of power-hungry devices such as industry machines or even laptops, the transfer should be efficient enough to enable rapid recharging and should not interfere with the continuous working of the device during the recharge. Even wired chargers are not considered completely reliable since they heat up while charging, dissipating energy through heat.
To address such consumer apprehensions and increase customer acceptance of the technology, scientists are studying techniques such as resonant induction, microwaves and lasers, although currently these methods limit the amount of power that can be transmitted.
Jozwicka notes: "The other problem here is that some of such devices are often large, and so there have to be trade-offs among the size of the devices, the proximity between the transmitter and receiver, and the amount of power to be used to recharge the device. There is a need for complementary electronics capable of working at higher frequencies to improve the efficiency of the wireless power transfer."
Even if all these performance requirements are met, potential users will still be wary about the safety of wireless energy transfer.
Sharmishta observes: "This challenge is especially pertinent for personal and household devices, where the users are concerned about the impact of electromagnetic field, microwaves, or even radio waves on their health. In order to accelerate the adoption of this disruptive technology in a conservative end-user market, it must be ensured that energy transfer technologies operate within regulation norms."
Technology developers can provide an important breakthrough in terms of widespread use in the consumer electronics segment through collaborations and agreements with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in incorporating a unified charging scheme across a range of products. In order to assuage the fears of end users and expand the user base in the future, industry participants could also consider energy transfer with space solar power systems and lobby for international cooperation between governments.
Wireless Power Supplies and Contactless Energy Transfer, a part of the Technical Insights subscription from Frost & Sullivan, provides a technology overview and outlook for wireless energy transfer systems. The study provides insights into technologies such as electromagnetic induction, microwave, lasers and resonance that can aid energy transmission wirelessly to power devices used in homes, offices and industry. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.