By: Mark Lidikay
A few years back a wireless charging device that was approved by the FCC. It sounds like a cool space age technical device, doesn’t it? Well, it is really just a repackaging of an old principle. Nikola Tesla did experiments with wireless power transmission long ago, which despite his accomplishments, which were ground-breaking at the time, showed a lack of understanding of power distribution. The claims then were free wireless power to the world. I worked on building a version of this when I was 13 years old and my son did a science project on it when he was in middle school. The range is nothing like what was imagined.
The power from a radio transmitter can be collected, rectified, and used to charge a battery or operate a small device. The recent approval by the FCC only concerns the operation of the transmitter and does not signify an endorsement of the device’s effectiveness, usability, or efficiency. Despite its limited range, it has captured public imagination and attracted investment from those who believed they were supporting a technological revolution. Modern enhancements include a carbon nano crystal antenna to enable a smaller resonant antenna and beam steering to optimize power transfer efficiency.
What was not taken in to account is the power loss. The transmitter sends the power out but despite the attempts to focus the energy, only part of it is recovered by the receiving device. There is loss because of spreading of the energy over the increasing larger surface of the sphere as the energy travels further from the source, loss in radiating the energy, and the loss of power along the transmission path as physical obstructions are encountered. This is why Tesla’s original design failed. The physics have not changed.
Imagination, fueled by the boundless possibilities of science fiction, began to run wild with the concept of wireless power transmission. As whispers of this revolutionary idea spread, people started envisioning a world where portable appliances, cars, and even entire houses could be powered without the limitations of cords and cables. The mere thought of such a breakthrough was enough to ignite an insatiable curiosity within the minds of inventors, engineers, and dreamers alike. One day, amidst the buzz surrounding wireless power, I received an intriguing call from an individual who shared an ambitious vision. They wanted to harness the power of wireless technology to revolutionize the way energy was distributed within a neighborhood. To better understand the potential of this idea, let’s delve into the realm of microwave ovens. These appliances operate on the principle of wireless power transmission. Picture the immense power required to not only operate an entire household but also compensate for any energy loss that occurs during transmission through the air. Now, consider what would happen to anything unfortunate enough to cross paths with this colossal wave of energy. The consequences would be catastrophic, akin to stepping into a path of destruction. Anything caught in its trajectory would be subjected to an overpowering surge that would render it nothing more than a charred remnant of its former self. The sheer magnitude of this wireless power transmission would be enough to fry anything to a crisp within seconds. While the concept of wireless power transmission may ignite dreams of a wire-free utopia, the practical implementation must be approached with caution. As we explore the possibilities, we must be mindful of the potential dangers such immense power can wield. The delicate balance between innovation and responsibility must be upheld to ensure the safety of both individuals and our surroundings. The allure of wireless power transmission stretches far beyond the confines of physics. It taps into the deepest recesses of our imagination, igniting possibilities that were once confined to the realms of science fiction. However, as we venture into this uncharted territory, let us remember the importance of treading carefully. For while the idea of powering our appliances, cars, and houses wirelessly may be tantalizing, we must always prioritize the safety and well-being of all who inhabit this world of endless possibilities.
It is ironic that in a world concerned about global warming, power line fields, and cell phone exposure, there is a rush to adopt a device that transmits energy wirelessly into the room to save a few feet of cable. Wireless communication technologies are useful for mobility, but there are situations where it is better to simply plug in the device.