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LOGAN — A Utah State University spinoff company unveiled a new electric bus at the school Thursday, angling for a worldwide market.
The first-of-its-kind wireless power transfer was developed and perfected by scientists and engineers at Utah State's Energy Dynamics Laboratory, and marketed byWAVE Technologies. The lab stands to profit from the development.
"Batteries are heavy, they're slow to recharge, they're very expensive, they take up a lot of space," said WAVE Inc. CEO Wesley Smith.
The bus needs only relatively minimal batteries because it recharges wirelessly at any bus stop equipped with the power-transferring metal plate.
One electromagnetic plate is installed in the pavement, while another plate receives the energy from the underside of a bus and transmits that energy to the bus' batteries.
Engineers say electricity jumps the 10-inch air gap with little loss in energy.
"The battery that you would need on that bus, if you plugged it in overnight, charged it overnight and then ran it all day, would be so large, that you wouldn't be able to put any passengers on the bus," Smith said.
Wireless power transfer has been used for years in some consumer devices and in factory power strips. Now it's ready for vehicles.
Next summer on a different campus, the University of Utah will start running Aggie Bus technology. Every time the bus picks up passengers at the TRAX station, it will drive over a pad and recharge.
The Utah State bus gets a wireless boost from charging pads embedded in concrete.
"It's elegant, it's efficient and it's the only one of its kind," said USU's Commercialization Vice President Robert Behunin.
Contributing: Associated Press