Wireless Power System Transmits Energy Over 148km
Published on: 17th Sep 2008
Note -- this news article is more than a year old.
A test of a wireless broadcast of solar power has been carried out which was able to transmit energy RF energy over a distance of up to 148 kilometers (about 90 miles) almost 100 times further than a major 1970s power transmission performed by NASA in the Mojave Desert in California.
While the project was small scale in terms of power transmitted (about 20 watts), and was being designed for space use - it has possible implications for transmitting power to base stations in rural areas. Currently, each rural base station usually requires its own diesel generator, and often security staff to protect the fuel from being stolen. The ability to broadcast the electricity supply wirelessly from a central hub, most likely to be the Base Station Controller which may already have line of sight for a microwave backhaul could make rural base stations cheaper, and safer to operate.
The demonstration of solar-powered wireless power transmission used a solid-state phased array transmitter located on the U.S. island of Maui and receivers located on the island of Hawai (Mauna Loa).
A number of key technologies were integrated and tested together for the first time in this project, including solar power modules, solid-state FET amplifiers, and a novel "retrodirective" phase control system. In addition, the project developed the first ever "field-deployable" system-developing new information regarding the prospective economics of space solar power / wireless power transmission systems.
The project was sponsored by Discovery Communications as part of its Project Earth series, and produced by Impossible Pictures Ltd. of the UK.
"This milestone demonstrates that Space-Based Solar Power deserves further study as one important answer to America's future energy needs," said Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President of the National Space Society. "This kind of demonstration is critical to the incremental development of breakthrough technologies."
The project's leader was former NASA executive and physicist John C. Mankins (Chief Operating Officer of Managed Energy Technologies LLC, and President of the Space Power Association). Key participants included Professor Nobuyuki Kaya of Kobe University in Japan and Frank Little of Texas A&M University in the U.S. (both world leaders in WPT technology), and Dr. Neville I. Marzwell of the California Institute of Technology. Students at the two universities were largely responsible for fabrication of the hardware for this first-of-a-kind experiment.