Scientists have succeeded in sending electricity soaring through air for about 55 meters. They are preparing to send solar satellites that will beam back electricity to earth one day.
Scientists in Japan announced that they successfully managed to transmit energy wirelessly. More importantly, the team managed to send high output energy with pinpoint accuracy, which in the energy transmission business is a big breakthrough.
Currently, the scientists from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have managed to send a stream of current of about 18 kilowatts – just enough to power a kettle – through the air to a receiver 55 meters away. The team achieved the delivery with pinpoint accuracy.
Sending electricity wirelessly from a transmitter to a receiver is not new. Tesla cars and other similar vehicles that rely on batteries have, for quite some time, sported a wireless charger to juice up the batteries.
However, the scientists aren’t limiting themselves to wirelessly delivering electricity a few feet, but intend to deploy super-massive solar sheets into space, which will collect solar energy and convert it into electricity. They envision one day, these sheets will beam back electricity to earth, thereby ensuring solar energy isn’t limited to sunny days.
Fog, clouds, or simple nighttime hinder continuous generation of electricity from sunlight. Although it’s still a distant dream, the team’s ultimate goal is to set up solar satellites around 36,000 km off Earth’s surface, where they’re able to non-stop soak up the intense, unobstructed solar energy from the sun and then beam it back to Earth via antennae, providing the planet with unlimited renewable power 365 days a year.
Still, the current feat is critical in development of such energy harvesters, said a JAXA’s spokesperson,
“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device. It’s something the agency has been working on for years, after seeing man-made satellites such as the International Space Station surviving easily on solar.”
The International Space Station or ISS, relies heavily on its solar panels to power most of its equipment. Though there are backup power generators, they are still to be used extensively as the solar panels of the ISS are intelligent enough to keep themselves oriented towards the sun and potent enough to power the ISS.
However, before we can send satellites that unfurl the huge solar sheets, there are a lot of challenges ahead, cautioned the spokesperson,
“There are a number of challenges to overcome, such as how to send huge structures into space, how to construct them and how to maintain them. It could take decades before we see practical application of the technology – maybe in the 2040s or later.”
Nonetheless, beaming high output electrical energy wirelessly over longer distances does have many real-world applications in the present.