Malvern start-up imagines a world where electric vehicles are recharged wirelessly

Imagine a world in which a vehicle is refueled with the ease of E-ZPass: hands free, no credit card swiping, a completely background transaction.

Andy Daga envisions such a world. Daga, 61, is chief executive of Momentum Dynamics Corp., a Malvern tech company that has developed a wireless recharging system for electric vehicles in which energy is transferred from a panel embedded in the pavement, through the air, into an EV.

Daga says the system is similar to a wireless recharger for a cellphone, though it transfers energy in far bigger volumes. He believes wireless recharging will extend the distances that electric vehicles can travel, helping to overcome “range anxiety” about battery limitations that has hindered widespread consumer adoption of EVs.

“This is really revolutionary, to automatically operate fast-charging systems that nobody needs to interact with,” said Daga. “Your vehicle will automatically charge itself without thinking about it.”

Until the company can develop a network of wireless chargers embedded into parking lots and roadways, Momentum Dynamics is focused on serving a market of large electric vehicles such as municipal buses that follow a circuit and return repeatedly to the same location, where they get a quick charge, like a marathon runner taking a gulps of water midrace.

“We make incremental charges along the way,” said Daga. “That bus can then have unlimited range.”

Not everyone shares Daga’s conviction that wireless charging is the technology that will give EVs the market breakthrough the industry desires. About 100,000 battery-electric vehicles were sold in the United States last year, less than 1 percent of the market.

“Wireless charging isn’t as efficient as battery swapping or a corded solution,” said Scott Shepard, a senior energy research analyst with Navigant Research.

Daga disagrees, and says that wireless charging represents a cost-competitive solution, particularly in markets for buses, industrial vehicles such as forklifts, or short-haul trucks in ports.

Momentum Dynamics installed a new wireless charger last month at a Link Transit municipal bus terminal in Wenatchee, Wash., where it provides five-minute top-up charges to an electric bus before it departs on its next scheduled circuit. The company launched a charging system last year at the Regional Transit Authority in Howard County, Md., in suburban Baltimore, and is currently installing a device in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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