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Road-to-car electric power transfer successfully demonstrated

Ampium, a pioneer in road powered electric vehicles (RPEVs), has announced it has successfully demonstrated the transfer of electric power between an RPEV-enabled road and a moving hybrid car.

For the demonstration, which took place at Cambridge Science Park, a 20-meter section of tarmac was equipped with Ampium’s RPEV technology. Installed in just a few hours without the need for heavy plant machinery and using methods conforming to UK Highways Agency requirements, the RPEV-enabled road allowed Ampium to demonstrate that grid electricity can be supplied to moving vehicles to provide cruise motive power, eliminating the need to carry heavy and expensive batteries for electrical energy storage.

“Ampium’s contactless RPEV fuel option can be fitted to electric, hybrid and fossil fuel powered cars and vans and will propel them at UK legal speeds,” said Andrew Howe, Ampium co-founder and former technology director with RLtec, a Global Cleantech 100 company. “Because our technology is compliant with road design standards and employs the same materials and processes as used in motorway and traffic light presence detection systems, it provides a timely and cost-effective approach to delivering a sustainable alternative electric fuel infrastructure. We aim to bring our revolutionary products to market in 2013.”

Ampium’s in-road technology uses wires buried in the road to enable drive-along contactless powering. Howe says that the system employs inductive coupling, much in the same way as an induction hob will heat food, but instead electricity is derived from an on-board pick-up coil to drive an electric motor.

“From the outset, the founders were not interested in just charging EV batteries, we wanted to show a technology that can be applied to all vehicles,” added Howe. “We set ourselves the target of transferring enough power to provide 20-30kW of mechanical power, but with less than 15kg of mass in the components, providing power transfer and transduction to mechanical power.”

The aim for Ampium is for its technology to deliver a practical solution to the challenge of powering alternative fuel vehicles, as driving on the RPEV infrastructure provides unlimited electric range. Early adopters of Ampium’s technology are anticipated to be owners of ‘bounded’ systems such as bus routes, warehousing and airports.

“We are extremely excited to have reached this pivotal moment in the evolution of our contactless RPEV technology,” said Andrew Dames, co-founder of Ampium and a prolific inventor whose patented products include an inductive current sensor now employed by 10 million smart meters in North America. “Our belief is that carrying a battery for energy storage is not optimal. Rather, we aim to decarbonise a vehicle’s cruise energy, which accounts for a significant percentage of its carbon emissions. We can help car manufacturers cut emissions in line with government regulations and will be working closely with industry to make road-powered vehicles a practical reality. We can also extend the power transfer to larger vehicles like HGVs and this is something we are looking to demonstrate over the coming months.”

30 August 2012


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