Power Electronics

Wireless Power Supplies and Contactless Energy Transfer

Frost & Sullivan's report, titled “Wireless Power Supplies and Contact Energy Transfer,” examines the transmission of power from a source to a receiver or load without wires and through an air gap if the transfer is contactless. Wireless and contactless power transfer is mainly used for powering sensors, wireless sensors, automated guided vehicles, etc. For most industrial applications, this is possible through the principle of inductive power transfer, based on unconventional transformers with large air gaps.

Wireless power potentially could be disruptive to wired chargers that are currently used to transfer energy to portable electronics, owing to the comfort it provides in charging multiple devices on a charging pad or within an area. Other benefits include industrial applications, owing to the elimination of the disarray created by wires and the added costs incurred from maintenance, etc. Wireless transfer also could be used to power sensors and could be combined with energy-harvesting techniques to power devices in the vicinity.

Application areas that would benefit from the adoption of wireless power transfer technologies include industrial and consumer electronics segments that are positioned to receive the maximum benefits in the short term. One aspect of wirelessly charging several devices irrespective of the company that supplies the product and the specifications of the device is the standardization of the charging scheme. Wireless power also can be used to power automated robots for surgical applications because using wires in such areas may be bulky and pose risks.

Conventional resources of energy are becoming scarce, so it is also driving developments in space solar power systems (SPS) where space-based solar panels acquire energy from the sun and beam it to earth through microwaves or laser-based techniques, which require line-of-sight operations. Results of these developments could take more than 20 more years to be seen, as legal and political repercussions may have to be dealt with before its adoption.

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