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A Study on Inductive Power Transfer with Wireless


V. J. Brusamarello, Y. B. Blauth,
Electrical Engineering Department
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

R. Azambuja, I. Müller
Electrical Engineering Department
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Abstract — This paper presents the analysis of two loosely
coupled coils used to transfer energy to charge a battery. This
battery is used to power an electronic device designed to monitor
variables such as impact strength, range of temperature and
humidity associated with the transport of fruits. The device is
inside a sealed enclosure that cannot be opened for recharging
the battery. The study shows the loosely coupled coils need to
work with a resonance capacitor, at least on the secondary coil.
However the resonance frequency also depends on the coupling
factor k and the power delivered to the load. Therefore, this work
proposes a monitoring system with closed loop for fine-tuning the
resonance frequency of the secondary coil circuit. Before starting
charging the battery the system scans the resonance frequency on
the primary coil and measures the output power on the
secondary coil looking for the optimal point. This procedure
reduces problems of variation of coupling factor with positioning
of the coils.
Keywords - loosely coupled coils, resonance, battery charging,
Magnetically coupled coils have been widely used for a
variety of applications requiring contactless or wireless power
such as biomedical devices [1]-[2], instrumentation systems
[3], among others [4]–[6]. In such applications, the energy
transfer from the source to the load is done by loosely coupled
coils, usually without a common magnetic core. These coils
can be represented by the primary and secondary inductances
and L
, with a low coupling coefficient K
In order to enhance the power transfer capability, the
loosely coupled coils generally need to be compensated with
capacitors to obtain the resonance effect [7]. Many works have
shown that capacitive compensation is crucial to loosely
coupled applications [1]–[7]. In addition to the power transfer
capability, the operating efficiency of the coupled coils is of
concern to many applications [7]. In fact, applications such as
biomedical implanted devices [1]-[2] may require efficient
power transfer in order to reduce time of charging associated to
uncomfortable positions. In other applications the efficiency of
the inductive link is required in order to avoid energy wasting,
such as automotive battery charge devices [5]. The inductive
power transfer system suffers severely from inefficient
operation, particularly under light loading conditions [8].
Usually, in order to achieve the maximal power transfer
efficiency some tuning technique is applied to the circuit. A
typical approach for controlling the system uses variable
frequency (VF) control in the resonant inverter to meet the zero
phase angle (ZPA) [5] in the load impedance, and uses pulse
width modulation (PWM) technique in the controlled rectifier
of the output side to control the output voltage or current.
According [2], [9], [10] the power flow control of wireless
power pickups is an important point that limit their further
development. Load variations, magnetic coupling variations
between the coils as well operating frequency drifting can
cause the output voltage of the secondary power pickup to
deviate significantly from the original designed value, resulting
in undesirable characteristic for applications where a constant
and stable output voltage is required [9]-[13]. Different
methods have been proposed for controlling the load in loosely
coupled coils such as the shorting control method [13] or the
dynamic tuning/detuning technique proposed in [5], [14], [15].
The fundamental concept of the last technique is to
dynamically change the tuning condition of the power pickup
according to the actual load requirements. This feature
increases the overall efficiency of the system and ensures that
the quality factor of the designed circuit remains unchanged.
Nowadays there is an increasing development of wireless
devices, which need battery recharging regularly. Loosely
coupled transformers have been proposed to work as charger to
wireless devices such as mobile phones, where the primary
core of the transformer is in the charger unit and the secondary
core is in the telephone [4] or simply by applying a printed-
circuit-board [16]. In another application [17], a detachable
transformer is presented as a noncontact charging system for
the batteries of an electrical shaver using a resonant converter.
This paper describes the study of an inductive power
transfer system for charging the batteries of an instrument that
mimes a fruit such as an apple or an orange. Among other
important variables the device records the mechanical shocks,
using a 3-ring load cell during the post-harvest processing of
apples and oranges [18], [19]. The small signals are acquired
by a digital system and sent through a radio channel, which is
linked to a similar system. In this work, the same wireless link
is used to carry information about the secondary of two loosely
coils built in order to charge the power supply batteries of the
whole remote system. A converter was built in order to drive
the primary coil and control the power delivered to secondary
coil. The digital system in the fruit monitors the power in the
batteries and sends the information to the base, which search

the tune frequency point, featuring a wireless loop control
strategy. The following sections will show how important and
sensible to small changes is the tune frequency to the
maximum power delivered from the secondary coil to the load.
In the presented work, the position of the secondary to the
primary coil of the charger has a direct influence to the
coupling factor and therefore has a direct impact on the
detuning of the system. The feedback is used wirelessly, in
order to tune the resonance and achieve the optimal working
condition again. In a generic charging system, this strategy can
be used to overcome the problem of dynamic loads, by
scanning the secondary power, feed backing to the control
system and adjusting the optimal operation point on the
primary coil.
A. Analysis of the primary coil
The equivalent circuit of two loosely coupled coils can be
represented by three coils [20] (Fig. 1a and Fig. 1 b).
Considering the primary coil connected to the sinusoidal wave
source and the secondary to a load, one can calculate the
equivalent Thevenin of the circuit from the source side (Fig. 1
a). In this case the total impedance from the secondary coil is
reflected to the primary side. By considering the load
Z R jX = + and the coil impedance
2 2 2 L L L
Z R jX = + , the
impedance on the secondary coil is:
2 2
( ) ( )
Sec L L L L M
Z R R j X X X = + + + ÷ (1)
Thus the reflected impedance on the primary side is
calculated by:
| |
2 2
Re 1
2 2
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
X X X X j R R X
R R j X X
÷ ÷ + +
+ + +
( )
2 2
2 2 2 2
Re 1 2 2
2 2
( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( )
f M
X R R j R R X X X X X
( ( + + + + + ÷ +
¸ ¸
( =
+ + + (
¸ ¸
The reflected impedance
Re f
Z with the primary total
Z defined by the source output impedance
R ,
and the reactance and resistance of the inductor
1 1 1 L L L
Z R jX = + determines the total current supplied by the
voltage source.
Figure 1. a) Two loosely coupled coils connected to a voltage source on the
primary side and to a load on the secondary side; b) Equivalent circuit; c)
Equivalent Thevenin circuit from the primary side.
The total impedance from the primary coil is:
( )
Re 1 1 1 p f L L M S
Z Z R j X X R = + + ÷ + (4)
The current supplied by the power source (Fig. 1c) is
dependent of the total primary side impedance
Z defined by
equation (4). Also, equation (4) shows that a series circuit
resonant capacitor should have the impedance defined by
( )
Re 1 1
_ { }
RC f L M
Z img c Z j X X = ÷ ÷ , where
Re 1
_ { }
img c Z is
the imaginary parcel of the conjugate of the reflected
impedance. The resonant capacitor on the primary coil can
increase the drained power from the power source by
decreasing the total series impedance, but the tune point will
vary with the load.
Mutual inductance [20] is defined by:
1 2
M K L L = (5)
The reactance
X depends on primary and secondary
inductances coils. This reactance also depends on the coupling
constant K , which change with the relative position of both
coils. The variation of mutual inductance is reflected on the
inductance of both sides, primary and secondary, and thus it
also influences the resonance frequency of the circuit.
B. Analysis of the secondary coil
Considering the primary coil connected to the sinusoidal
wave source and the secondary to a load, one can calculate the
equivalent Thevenin of the circuit from the load side (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. a) Two loosely coupled coils connected to a voltage source on the
primary side and to a load on the secondary side; b) Equivalent Thevenin
circuit from the secondary side.
The voltage reflected on the secondary coils ( )
E e is
defined by:
( ) ( )
( )
1 1
2 2
1 1
X X jX R
e = e
Where ( ) E e is the sinusoidal voltage source and
1 1 L S
R R R = + .
And the equivalent impedance reflected on the secondary
coils is:

( )
2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
Re 2 2 2
1 1
X R j X X X X X R
+ ÷ +
R is the primary coil resistance summed to the source
1 L
X is the primary reactance;
X is the mutual inductance defined by
1 2 M
X K L L = e (7)
L is the primary coil inductance,
L is the
secondary coil inductance and K the coupling constant.
C. Resonance effect on the secondary coil
The behavior of the circuit described in the previous
sections become interesting if a capacitor is calculated in order
to reach the resonance on the equivalent circuit representing the
secondary side. Figure 3 shows the equivalent circuit of the
impedance of the secondary coil in parallel to a current source.
The current source ( )
I e is the Norton current defined by:
( )
( )
( )
1 1
2 2
1 1
2 2 Re 2
( )
L L M f
X X jX R
R j X X Z
e =
+ ÷ +
The resistor
R represents the effect of the intrinsic
resistance of the inductors and the resonant capacitor (which
can be described by its quality factor Q ), as well the output
resistance of the input voltage source reflected to the secondary
coil. This circuit shows that when the inductor and the
capacitor reach the resonance, the current
i is null. In that
situation the current from the source is divided by the load
i ) and the equivalent resistance
R (current
i ). If the
equivalent resistance
R is high enough then
i is around zero
and the current
I is supplied to the load. Equation (8) shows
the dependence of the current source of the primary inductance
L , secondary inductance
L , primary coils resistance
R ,
secondary resistance
R , and the coupling constant K .
Figure 3. Equivalent source supplying the current to the load on the
In order to reach the resonance on the secondary coil a
capacitor should be calculated and connected in parallel to the
load. If the load is resistive, the resonant capacitor value is a
function of the circuit frequency, and the total inductance as
shown in Figure 3. Variations in the capacitance or the
inductance of this circuit can detune the resonance.
The total inductance of Figure 3 depends on the coupling
factor K, which depends on the geometric position of both
coils. Each time the coils are moved they will have a different
coupling factor, resulting in a variable mutual inductance.
Also, environmental factors such as humidity can change the
capacitor value. Both situations require to fine-tune the
resonance point of the circuit. The dependence of the resonance
frequency of the circuit with the coupling factor can be seen in
Figure 4. The values of the coupling factor K used in this
work are based on measurements of a prototype coil, which
will be presented in the next sections.
D. Non linear load
A rectifier block is necessary in order to have an
application such as a battery charger. The diodes bridge
connected to the battery features a non linear load. An
interesting question to answer is how the circuit behaves with
the nonlinear load.

Figure 4. Dependence of the resonance frequency with the coupling
constant K .
The response is especially important if we are interested in
optimizing the energy transfer to the load. The analysis of the
circuit was done by using a simulator based on spice. In this
simulation, the load is a resistor which assumes different
values. The capacitor C is calculated in order to the secondary
coil reaches the resonance. The results of the simulations are
summarized on table 1 ( 0.29 K = ,
R = O,
R = O,
77 L H = µ ,
48 L H = µ , 231 C nF = , 10
C F = µ , e(t) is a
AC pulse source ranging from -15 to +15 V, 50000 kHz).
Figure 5. Simulated circuit used to analyze the non linear load.

Z Load Current

Load Power
1 Ω 175 mA 30 mW
10 Ω 160 mA 256 mW
50 Ω 144 mA 1.03 W
100 Ω 123 mA 1.03 W
200 Ω 100 mA 2 W
270 Ω 90 mA 2.2 W
500 Ω 67 mA 2.2 W
1000 Ω 42 mA 1,7 W
5000 Ω 11.5 mA 0.6 W

Table 1 shows that the maximum power transfer, for this
case in particular, occurs when the load takes a value between
270 and 500 ohms. In the case of the battery charger, this
indicates that there is an optimal point at which the voltage
converter to power the battery must be designed. It is
important to note that the maximum power transfer depend on
the load (Figure 6) and the coupling factor (Figure 7).
Figure 6. Dependence of power transferred to the load on the output..
Figure 7. Dependence of power transferred to the variation of coupling
factor K.
The main objective of this paper is to study and develop a
wireless charger to be used in an electronic device designed to
monitor variables associated with the transport of fruit and the
like. The results of the first prototype, as well as details of
construction of the instrument for wireless monitoring of
variables was presented in [18]. The first variables to consider
are the size and geometry of the enclosure in which the
electronic device is packed. Due to the spherical geometry and
simplicity we chose to develop two solenoid coils. One with a
diameter slightly larger than the diameter of the sphere to work
as a primary coil which should be at the power charger. The
secondary coil should be located inside the sphere, which is
sealed. Figure 8 illustrates the sphere used in the prototype. the
relative position between the two coils is crucial to define the
coupling factor K. A slight misalignment between the coils
causes the variation in the coupling factor and consequently the
resonance frequency, as shown in Section 2. Finally, the loss of
tune considerably decreases the ability to transfer energy to the

Figure 8. Spherical geometry of the developed prototype.
A. Drive to the primary coil
The primary coil uses a four-quadrant inverter so that the
current oscillates between positive and negative values
(average current in the load is zero). The inverter applies a
square wave from -15 to +15 V with a frequency of 50 kHz. It
is important to notice that, since we use a resonant circuit, the
waveform of the input rectifier is sinusoidal because the high
frequency components are filtered.
The power delivered by the source depends on the total
impedance seen in the primary winding. Since this impedance
has an inductive component, one can use a capacitor in series
to force the resonance, resulting in considerable increase of
current in the primary coil and consequently the energy transfer
to the secondary coil. The choice of the capacitor to be placed
in series depends on the capacity of the power source and must
be done carefully. Figure 9 illustrates the drive circuit used in
this work.

Figure 9. Dependence of power transferred to the load on the output.
B. Power on the load
The circuit shown in Figure 5 was used to test two different
conditions and measure the total power delivered to the load:
a. In the first situation the secondary coil was placed inside
the primary coil in order to have a strong coupling ( 0.7 K ~ ).
b. In the second situation the secondary coil was placed
outside the primary coil in order to have a weak coupling
( 0.3 K ~ ).
In both situations the load
Z was a set of resistors. The
output voltage was measured and the power calculated. The
results are shown in Table 2.
( )
Z O Voltage
Load Power
Load Power
6.8 1.9 0.3 0.5 0.01
47 12 1.6 3.0 0.05
100 24 2.6 5.7 0.06
270 44 4.8 7.1 0.08
470 57 6 6.9 0.08
1000 63 7 3.9 0.04
4700 74 8 1.1 0.01
75 10 -------------- ----------

strong coupling
weak coupling
OC - open circuit
The practical results shown in Table 2 confirm the
simulated results shown in Table 1. The maximum power
transfer occurs when the load is between 100 and 470 O. Thus
the intrinsic resistances of the inductors and the capacitor, as
well as the internal resistance of the AC source used in the
simulation have realistic values.
C. Wireless tuning
Figures 4, 6 and 7 show that the load voltage and power are
very sensitive to frequency variations. Figure 4 shows that the
resonance frequency is very sensitive to the variation of the
coupling factor K. It is inevitable that the relative position
between the coils of the charger varies in each battery recharge,
varying the inductance reflected to the secondary. Thus, this
paper proposes an adaptive control for fine-tuning the
resonance frequency of the secondary coil circuit, using a
wireless communication link between the control system.
Concerning platforms that include MCU and radio in the
same chip, there are several options, among them, the
Freescale’s MC1322X. This platform includes an ARM 7
MCU and an IEEE 802.15.4 radio, besides standard peripherals
such as a 12 bit ADC with multiple inputs. Since such platform
has been used in the development of the measuring device, it is
very suitable for the application of the battery charger. Thus,
the MCU in the measuring device monitors the battery and
communicates with the MCU that controls and adjusts the
frequency in the charger base, working in the primary coil
(Figure 10).

Figure 10. Block diagram of the charger.
Concerning the software, the MCU of the primary coil
initializes the communication link with the MCU of the
secondary coil. Thus, the control system on the primary side
starts a scan frequency synchronized with the measures of
power in the load carried by the control system on the
secondary side. At each frequency point a measure of power is
performed on the secondary side. This measure is sent by the
wireless link to the primary and compared with the previous
measure. The algorithm searches for the optimum point and
adopts it as the resonance frequency and starts charging the
battery. Figure 11 illustrates the described wireless loop.
Figure 11. block diagram of the charger with wireless communication.

This paper presents the analysis of two loosely coupled
coils used for charging an electronic device that monitors
variables associated with the transport of fruits. Once the
measuring device is sealed, the charging cannot be made with
wires connecting the power source and the battery. The
primary coil is connected to a PWM inverter controlled by an
MCU, which among other features has a wireless
communication module. The secondary coil is connected to the
battery charging circuit in which current and voltage are
monitored. This monitoring is made by another MCU that
controls the measuring device and communicates with a remote
The coils analysis showed that the circuit needs at least one
capacitor to force the resonance in the secondary coil in order
to optimize the energy transfer between the coils. However, the
impedance reflected to the secondary side depends on the
coupling factor K and thus the resonance frequency. Also, the
positioning between the two coils causes a variation of the
coupling factor K in the battery recharge.
Thus, this paper proposes a closed loop system to monitor
the power delivered from a charger circuit during the battery
charging process. The MCU that monitors the loader circuit in
the device communicates with the MCU that controls the
primary coil driver when the charging process starts. The
MCU in the AC power base starts a frequency scanning step by
step. The algorithm searches for the frequency where the
maximal power is delivered to the charging battery. This point
is assumed to be the resonance frequency, thus the battery
charge process continues until the full charge is reached.

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