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My vision of the future is wireless, and we’re one step closer
I don’t like to see power line cables across the landscape — who does? But burying lines is expensive, and impossible in some terrains. Plus, you can’t bury lines in space. And I definitely hate the sight of my power cables snaking around the house.
Wireless power transmission is the answer, but there are a lot of technical challenges to overcome.
On the home front, we already have wireless charging for late-model smartphones and toothbrushes, but the charger itself still has to be plugged into the wall, and the device has to actually sit on the charger for it to work.
But there’s a new transmission standard for in-home wireless, using infrared technology, called Wi-Charge IR. It’s already received safety certification in the U.S., Europe, and the world, and won the 2020 Gold Edison Award this past spring. In Wi-Charge, the infrared beam is about a fifth of what you get in sunlight, and it automatically shuts off when anything is in its way. No cords, no environmentally damaging batteries.
That’s fine for inside the home, but wireless charging can be used outside the home, as well.
The first commercial deployment of wireless technology for power transmission was just announced two days ago, in New Zealand. Like with at-home transmission, the beam automatically cuts off if anything like a bird or a plane gets too close. But instead of the 30-foot range of the at-home system, you can go for miles. Emrod’s pilot project is just for 130 feet, but with a larger broadcasting antenna, the current technology can go to nearly 20 miles — and mirror relays can extend that distance at nearly no power loss.
Of course, here on Earth, we’ve got a lot of obstacles in the way, not to mention the atmosphere. In space, those distance can be significantly larger.
The technology can even be used to send power from solar arrays in space down to Earth. Read more about that in this New Atlas interview with Emrod’s founder.
But I like to think of a solar system-wide array of power collection and transmission stations that can power satellites, asteroid mining equipment, and spaceships, nearly eliminating the need for on-board power supplies.