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Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer

Project Overview

INDOT, in partnership with Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE) Engineering Research Center is supporting Purdue University and the Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP) in creating a roadway that's one of the first of its kind - a dynamic (in-motion) wireless power transfer technology (DWPT) to directly "charge" vehicles while in motion.

The project began in 2018 and has gone through multiple levels of research and study. This includes assessing the technical and financial feasibility of electric roadways in Indiana, designing a DWPT test bed using modeling and simulation techniques, and developing a better understanding of the interaction between the embedded DWPT system and the pavement structure.

The results of this study are a step toward developing how to transfer high power to longer stretches of pavement at highway speeds and equip electric vehicles (EVs) to obtain power along them.

In spring 2024, construction will begin on a quarter-mile test bed to provide power to heavy-duty trucks on U.S. Highway 231/U.S. Highway 52 in West Lafayette. In the next four to five years, the hope is to electrify a section of an Indiana interstate for further testing.

For their project with INDOT, Purdue researchers are focusing first on testing how well the technology transfers power to electric trucks. These trucks are more limited than smaller electric vehicles in travel range due to the size and weight of their batteries. If electric trucks could charge using highways, their batteries could be reduced in size, allowing them to carry more freight, significantly reducing costs, and potentially, increasing profits.

Charging EV's like Smartphones?

The technology used in the DWPT project would enable the pavement to provide power to EVs similarly to how newer smartphones use magnetic fields to wirelessly charge when placed on a charging pad.

“If you have a cellphone and you place it on a charger, there is what’s called magnetic fields that are coming up from the charger into that phone. We’re doing something similar. The only thing that’s different is the power levels are higher, and you’re going out across a large distance from the roadway to the vehicle,” said Steve Pekarek, Purdue’s Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in an episode of “American Innovators.” “This is a simple solution. There are complicated parts of it, and that we leave to the vehicle manufacturers.”

Project Documents

Project Timeline

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are "electric roadways"?

    Most EVs charge by plugging them in before you drive. New technology, known as Dynamic (in-motion) wireless power transfer (DWPT), will allow EVs to charge through the roadway as they travel. The pavement utilizes wireless chargers to send power to an EV with magnetic fields. This allows it to charge its battery wirelessly without needing to stop.

  • Are electric roadways safe for my family?

    DWPT has undergone multiple levels of research and testing. Electric charge for EVs is transferred from the roadway through magnetic fields that can’t electrocute you and have been proven safe for people and infrastructure. In case of emergency, the technology is equipped with safety systems, including shut-off sensors. The pavement’s wireless chargers will be turned off normally, and only activated during testing.

  • How will West Lafayette’s electrified roadway affect me?

    The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Purdue are partnering to build a DWPT testbed along a small part of US-52 in West Lafayette. The electrified roadway technology will be placed only in the right westbound lane. During construction, only this lane will be closed, and the left lane will remain open to travelers and commuters. The wireless chargers will only send power to special test vehicles.

  • I don’t have an EV. Will electric roadways benefit me?

    In addition to EVs improving local air quality, supporting public charging infrastructure like roadways makes it more affordable to own an EV. Private at-home chargers currently add cost to EV ownership. Publicly available chargers can help make EVs more affordable and accessible. This new way of charging will support cars, ride sharing, school buses, public transit, and more.

  • What is the cost associated with electric roadways?

    Public roads are currently subsidized through a gas tax. Indiana drivers currently pay $0.17/gallon. As EVs become popular, this source of funding will be phased out, and drivers and communities will subsidize electric roads instead. This will provide money that ensures safer roads with cleaner air. By making chargers, owning EVs becomes cheaper for you, transit agencies, school districts, and more.

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