Tesla Coil Electric Bike Is Wireless

Electric bikes, and really all electric vehicles, have one major downside: the weight and cost of batteries. Even with lithium, battery packs for ebikes can easily weigh more than the bike itself and cost almost as much. But having to deal with this shortcoming could be a thing of the past thanks to [LightningOnDemand]’s recent creation. Of course, this would rely on a vast infrastructure of Tesla coils since that’s how this bike receives the power it needs to run its electric motor.

The Tesla coil used for the demonstration is no slouch, either. It’s part of the Nevada Lightning Laboratory and can pack a serious punch (PDF warning). To receive the electrical energy from the coil, the bike (actually a tricycle) uses a metal “umbrella” of sorts which then sends the energy to the electric motor. The bike drags a chain behind itself in order to have a ground point for the electricity to complete its circuit. There is limited range, though, and the Tesla coil will start ionizing paths to the ground if the bike travels too far away.

While we can’t realistically expect Tesla’s idea of worldwide, free, wireless electricity to power our bicycles anytime soon, it is interesting to see his work proven out, even if its on a small scale like this. Of course, it doesn’t take a research laboratory to start working with Tesla coils. This one is built out of common household parts and still gets the voltages required to create the signature effects of a Tesla coil.

Thanks to [Adam] for the tip!

28 thoughts on “Tesla Coil Electric Bike Is Wireless

  1. I think the main question is how much power is needed to make the trike driving. The coil looks quite big and consumes probably a lot of energy. If the efficiency of the whole system is only a few percent, its a funny trick but perhaps not a practically way to go.

  2. Would be neat if it could work using existing AM radio stations as the transmitter. The use cases would still be very limited, but it wouldn’t use any extra energy from the grid. (It would be analogous to your neighbor always having a huge light in their backyard left on all the time so you set up some solar panels in your yard to capture it. Not as efficient as turning the light off, but good luck telling the AM stations to shut down…)

      1. Have you seen the things that nonsense pedlars are selling to the credulous now? Things that “absorb radiation” to put into your phone case, and next to your wifi router. The fools purchasing these things are still able to go online and gush about how effective they are though, so I guess they’re not 100% effective ;-)

  3. Just have a look at the PDF. In page 3 they have an efficiency table. For capacitive coupling (magnetic coupling is 1.5 orders of magnitude worse), you have about 40% efficiency at two meters, 1.6% efficiency at ten meters.

    I feel like crying.

      1. While the magnifying tower seems quite a silly but impressive idea to me – under the impression that it’s purpose was to extend the effectiveness of the near field coupling. While within near field, inverse square law is a bit moot. But yes, it’ll kick in at some point and I can only imagine the whole system efficiency would be horrendously low.

        I like wires. Much less ozone.

      2. Can’t really call him him mad for that either – the era he is from is one of conspicuous inefficiencies and copious consumption in the name of progress. Demand for power was almost zero so infrastructure free distributing power actually could make sense cost wise – it becomes like piped water was here for ages unmetered just a standing charge to be allowed to use it.
        Also nobody knows in advance if their theories are correct until they can be proved or disproved – maybe it is possible to create a bubble over a vast area that provides power more than efficiently enough to be worth it – in the same way really high intensity laser light can be generated from a rather modest source. With the proven body of science at the time its not possible in my mind to really expect anybody to believe the drop off is insurmountable in fact I’d say the development of antenna technologies really points the other way at the time (and even now I’m not sure we can really be sure – quantum level stuff we really don’t grasp at all – its a best guess that fits what we have observed mostly and mathematically seems to work out very neatly)…

        Clearly it never worked out well enough to take off, but its not crazy by any stretch looking at the population at the time.

      3. Really Tesla’s idea was more complicated. Shortly, Earth and its ionosphere works like high frequency transmission line, something like coaxial cable, where Earth in whole is center conductor and ionosphere is a shield. Coaxial transmission line is highly effective for energy transfer if power source, line and load is properly impedance balanced.

        Tesla was not madman in your meaning. He was mad in tinking out extraordinary ideas. You have to be mad to some point in order to imagine that Earth and its ionosphere could be presented like coaxial transmission line.

        So, that wireless powered bike does not really follow Tesla’s wireless energy idea. Using Tesla coil for energy transfer does not make whole thing using Tesla wireless energy idea just because Tesla coil device has “Tesla” in name.

        1. I’m still looking for a Tesla paper with an equation in it. Do you think he knew more than zero about transmission lines, wave guides, impedance? How about bandwidth and at what frequency the power is found in his broadband gizmos? The waste is built in to the design. Maxwell’s equations were widely taught in Tesla’s time. And signal theory and the whole works were understood for over half his lifetime.

  4. If you tried to type approve this, the FCC (a.k.a. anti-spark-gap committee) wouldn’t like it one little bit!

    Full marks for mahoosive cojones though! I couldn’t believe it when he actually climbed in!!

  5. This will require 500,000 V AC current running 20′ (6 metres) above road surface. The cycle may work along access roads to power lines. So it can work. But going around in a 20′ diameter circle might make the user feel slightly nauseous?

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