Cutting edge, Australian made wireless electric vehicle charging technology has become the first of its kind to gain certification from independent global safety and performance testing outfit UL.
The technology’s Victoria-based developer, Lumen Group, said this week that its Lumen Freedom technology had been certified to UL 2750, which covers wireless power transfer equipment for electric vehicles.
The certification comes one year after Lumen was awarded a $200,000 grant from the federal government’s Automotive Innovation Lab Access Grants program, towards testing of its Freedom system.
Lumen says it worked with UL’s engineers and lab technicians globally on the safety and performance of the wireless charging equipment including the power source, the ground pad assembly, and the attached vehicle assembly, ultimately achieving UL 2750.
Wireless EV charging, while well understood and promising technology, is yet to get a strong foothold in the “real world.” And not for lack of innovating or testing.
A recent blog by fellow Victorian EV infrastructure company, JetCharge, speculated that the slow success of the technology might be due to a concentration of patents and lack of investment in the companies that hold them. That, or it might simply require much higher EV adoption to justify its expense.
Whatever the roadblocks, the potential benefits of wireless charging are clear. As Lumen Group itself points out, the technology could in the future be used for opportunistic charging, at traffic lights, drive-throughs or toll booths, for example.
It could also be incorporated into specialised parking or stopping locations for service vehicles like buses and delivery trucks – allowing them to re-charge while picking up passengers or dropping off deliveries.
More ambitiously, the concept of dynamic wireless power transfer could also allow vehicles to travel over a specialised path that could recharge them while they drive.
Wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC) technology typically uses resonant inductive magnetic coupling between a transmitting ground pad and receiving pad fitted to the vehicle.
Lumen Group says that its Freedom technology, which claims to have ≥92% efficiency in power transmission, uses patented Double D coil technology, to achieve a higher flux density concentration than single-coil systems.
An EV driver needs only to park “in close proximity” to the wireless system, the website says, where a current is passed into the ground pad from a power source and then transmitted across the air gap to the vehicle pad.
Lumen also claims to have developed a system with a high tolerance to car misalignment, alongside an intelligent alignment system that guides drivers with simple visual cues. It also comes with a high clearance capacity (300mm+) to make it compatible with more vehicle types.
In terms of performance, the “automated scalable system” can charge EVs at levels between 3.7kW and 22kW – the former best suited to long charges overnight, while the latter enables a “quick powerful charge” on the road.
Performance aside, however, the company is keen to assure that its technology safe, and not only meets but exceeds the highest international standards for performance.
“The adoption of the most rigorous testing and design standards have resulted in a system protected by advanced safety protocols,” the website says.
“The Freedom system incorporates Living Object Protection (L.O.P) and Foreign Object Detection (F.O.D) to an SAE standard. F.O.D can detect an object as small as a paper clip.”
This week’s addition of the UL certification appears to add to those credentials.
“As the EV market continues to expand, new, innovative technological solutions are pushing the infrastructure to do more and faster than before,” said UL vice president and general manager of energy and power technologies, Jeffrey Smidt.
“For UL, safety is the foundational element of any successful and sustainable technological deployment and must continue to be actively addressed to support viable technological advancements,” he said.
“With EV sales expected to exceed gas-powered vehicle sales by 2030, the demand for revolutionary technologies that can be used to recharge electric vehicle batteries, such as wireless power transfer systems, will continue to grow,” added Joseph Bablo, principal engineer manager for Energy Systems and e-Mobility at UL.