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Developing a game-changing technology for charging electric vessels

Perpetual Research Consultancy Ltd is an innovator in electronics, with a special focus on wireless power transfer. They have identified an important opportunity within the marine industry, as their Director, Dr Mike Taylor, explains:

“Wireless charging is already employed for electric vessels, whether they are crewed, remotely operated or fully autonomous. We believe that this technology could be greatly improved by devising a way of using VHF frequencies for wireless charging. Such a technology could deliver order of magnitude increases in power transfer, and lead to vastly reduced charging times. 

“State-of-the-art wireless power transfer systems work at 85 kHz for several reasons including the use of ferrite cores and the skin effect. However, our technology has opened up a new way to create magnetic fields. We’re not frequency-limited, and so we can use these in the VHF band (30 MHz to 300 MHz). This is important because the power transferred inductively is proportional to the square of the frequency. This approach could be used both for surface and subsurface vessels.” 

Dr Mike Taylor is highly experienced in technology innovation, having worked for the MOD on RD&I projects, with management and delivery responsibility. He has also successfully bid for, and delivered, two Innovate UK projects while in private consultancy practice. Being aware of the type and scale of the research work that would be needed to kickstart this particular project, Mike engaged with the Marine-i team for support in this process. He says:

“Having access to the leading-edge research and innovation expertise available through the Marine-i project was a huge asset for this project. Together, we and Marine-i formulated a three stage research process, which was delivered over a 12-week period.

“The first stage was to carry out experiments on different wire coil configurations and thoroughly evaluate their performance characteristics. The next step was a feasibility study to determine the requirements of impedance matching networks for the new charging system. The final stage, conducted with expert input from Warwick Manufacturing Group, was to assess procurement costs for the key components for the new system, to allow us to estimate the production cost of an individual system when manufactured at scale.”

Kevin Forshaw, Director of Strategic and Industrial Partnership at the University of Plymouth says:

“This is an excellent example of a company developing great technology which is transferrable across a range of sectors and market opportunities, with marine electric vehicles being a particularly fantastic application.”

Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says:

“Perpetual Research Consultancy should be congratulated for the way in which they have identified a valuable commercial opportunity in marine technology and then taken a disciplined and systematic approach to its research and development. Electric vessels will play a massive role in future marine operations. A system that delivers faster charging, and therefore quicker turnaround times for vessels, would be a very attractive commercial proposition for operators. This unique new technology would therefore have a massive global market.”

Dr Mike Taylor adds:

“We are very grateful for the support we have received from Marine-i and their partners. Bringing a pioneering new technology like this to market is a long process, but this research programme has provided the perfect foundation for the next stages of development. It takes us a big step closer to commercialisation, which is a very exciting prospect for our business.”

[Photo credit: Sebastien Le Derout on Unsplash]