Tuesday, 04 August 2020 22:59

NZ startup Emrod claims ‘world first’ launch of long range wireless power transmission

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The Emrod team line up behind Greg Kushnir to mark the launch of their 'world first' wireless power transmission tech The Emrod team line up behind Greg Kushnir to mark the launch of their 'world first' wireless power transmission tech

New Zealand energy transmission start up Emrod is claiming a world-first development and launch of high-power, wireless power transmission as an alternative to existing copper line technology.

The company, founded by New Zealand tech entrepreneur Greg Kushnir, says its technology works by utilising electromagnetic waves to safely and efficiently transmit energy wirelessly over vast distances.

The prototype received some New Zealand government funding and was designed and built in Auckland in cooperation with Callaghan Innovation.

Emrod says Kushnir was determined to find a technology that can reduce power distribution costs, avoid outages and support renewable energy.

New Zealand’s second largest electricity distribution company, Powerco, will be the first to test Emrod technology.

“We have an abundance of clean hydro, solar, and wind energy available around the world but there are costly challenges that come with delivering that energy using traditional methods, for example, offshore wind farms or the Cook Strait here in New Zealand requiring underwater cables which are expensive to install and maintain,” Kushnir said.

“I wanted to come up with a solution to move all that clean energy around from where it's abundant to where it’s needed in a cost-effective, eco-friendly way.

“Energy generation and storage methods have progressed tremendously over the last century but energy transmission has remained virtually unchanged since Edison, Siemens, and Westinghouse first introduced electric networks based on copper wires 150 years ago.”

According to Emrod, when Kushnir investigated ways to transmit energy wirelessly over vast distances he was “struck by how little has been done in the field”.

“Everyone seems to be fixated on the notion that energy comes to consumers as electricity over copper wires and I knew there had to be a better way,” Kushnir said, and approached New Zeaaland scientist Dr Ray Simpkin of Callaghan Innovation, who lead a feasibility study and worked on the prototype.

Callaghan Innovation backed Emrod with a research and development grant and seconded their lead scientist to work on the “game changing” prototype.

“By significantly reducing infrastructure costs, Emrod’s technology has the capacity to support remote communities such as in Africa and the Pacific Islands by providing access to cheap, sustainable energy to power schools, hospitals, and economies,” said Kushnir.

“The statistics are pretty compelling. We are talking about a potential 50% increase in sustainable energy uptake, up to 85% reduction in outages and up to 65% reduction in electricity infrastructure costs due to the Emrod solution.”

Emrod says it has achieved strong interest from electricity distributors with Powerco, New Zealand’s second-largest distributor deciding to invest in a proof of concept of the technology.

“We’re committed to innovation, and finding new ways to deliver power safely and efficiently to our customers”, says Powerco’s Network Transformation Manager Nicolas Vessiot.

“We’re interested to see whether Emrod’s technology can complement the established ways we deliver power. We envisage using this to deliver electricity in remote places, or across areas with challenging terrain.

“There’s also potential to use it to keep the lights on for our customers when we’re doing maintenance on our existing infrastructure.”

Emrod says it will deliver the next prototype to Powerco in October and will spend two to three months carrying out lab testing and training Powerco personnel before moving to a field trial.

“The system we are currently building for Powerco will transmit only a few kilowatts but we can use the exact same technology to transmit 100 times more power over much longer distances. Wireless systems using Emrod technology can transmit any amount of power current wired solutions transmit,” Kushnir said.

According to Emrod, safety of the prototype is also front of mind for the company, which is using a non-ionizing Industrial, Scientific and Medical frequency (ISM) band to transmit power.

The company says it has been communicating with the regulator Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) “continuously from the get go and maintaining the highest safety standards”.

“The rigorous process we are undertaking is aimed at proving the technology is safe with higher power levels on a larger scale. It also helps in creating maintenance guidelines for companies like Powerco that will be using our devices,” said Kushnir.

“We have chosen this widely used and well-regulated frequency because there’s a long history of using it safely around humans and its scientifically proven safety guidelines, which are accepted internationally.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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