New York City’s iconic (and sometimes terrifying) manhole covers haven’t changed in decades, but they may be about to gain a whole new purpose—as charging stations for electric cars and trucks.
According to Wired’s Damon Lavrinc, a pilot program will test the possibility of turning ordinary manhole covers into wireless charging stations for electric vehicles. Here’s how it’ll work: You’ll be able to use an app to find an open spot (a bit like Citibike’s app), then roll up and park above one of the covers. The app’s integrated payment system will let you track and pay for the amount of energy you’re sucking up from the energy pad below.
The system is unique from traditional wireless inductive charging systems—the sort you might use for your phone—because it uses resonance charging, which is faster and less wasteful. Lavrinc explains:
Traditionally, inductive charging requires a primary coil to generate an electromagnetic field that is picked up by a second coil mounted underneath the EV to juice up the battery pack. But it’s not particularly efficient, with large amounts of energy dissipating through the coil. With a resonance-based system, both coils are connected with capacitors that resonate at a specific frequency. The energy losses are reduced and you can transmit more energy at a faster rate and further apart.
The project will roll out, so to speak, with two covers in Washington Square Park early next year. It’s the brainchild of Jeremy McCool, a Columbia University professor who spent six years in the Army before going on to found HEVO Power, a company “conceived as a promise made in Baghdad, with the vision of achieving independence from foreign fuel.”
In other words, HEVO’s vision extends way beyond New York, to include the entire country—and indeed, the military—in its wireless clean-power network. So if all goes as planned, manhole covers in your town could eventually power up your car, too. [Wired]