St. John’s based Solace Power are at the forefront of leading-edge wireless power technology. After seeing a demand for cordless power, they began filling that gap with unique approach wireless power.

They use what’s called “electric field RC² (Resonant Capacitive Coupling) technology,”to grant users “complete spatial freedom.” Greater Spatial freedom is corporate jargon that means you’ll no longer have to precisely line up your electronics for charging; your devices can be powered anywhere within the impressive energy range of their charger.

The company surprised itself with what RC² can do, in terms of the distances from which their wireless power tech can power things, and, how quickly they can do so. To quote one of their engineers, Paul Arsenault, it’s “well beyond what anyone thought possible.”

Solace Power were one of two companies to receive significant funding from government in June, specifically for their operation focused on wireless charging technology for small electric unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs; drones).

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through its Research & Development Corporation, contributed $244,648 to the project, while the federal government invested 5.5 million between Solace Power and another local outfit, Furgo Geosurveys.

Neil Chaulk, VP of Business Development, says “companies like Boeing, we’re working to help them actually charge a drone while hovering, and that is something no one else has done before.” It’s truly world-leading work, happening right here in NL.

In a drone charging demo, Solace was able to transfer 35W to the UAV with 71% battery efficiency, and charge a drone hovering 25cm above a charging pad. They fully charged a 7.4 volt battery in less than 9 minutes while the drone was hovering.

This technology will let companies greatly improve their use of drones. Drones let organizations decrease costs associated with inspections, monitoring, data collection, and various other day-to-day activities. However, the full potential of drone implementation is currently limited by restrictions on battery life, as most electric drones have a battery life of 15-40 minutes.

Solace Power’s RC2 technology will allow UAV tasks be completed more efficiently, simply by placing wireless charging pads near surveillance/inspection areas, so drones can just go hover near a charging pad when their battery is getting low, allowing the drone to effectively remain charged in perpetuity. Allowing drones to stay in the air for extended periods of time, even during charging, reduces the number of drones needed to carry out tasks as well.

“Innovation plays a critical role in advancing a stronger, more diversified economy in Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation. “The Provincial Government is pleased to support Solace Power as they endeavour to develop a new technology in wireless power transfer for the global aerospace and defence market.”

Kris McNeil, President and CEO of Solace Power, says the money will help accelerate the research and development of their wireless power technology, which has the potential to transform multiple industries.

“We will be building a state-of-the art power electronics lab in St. John’s, which will put us at the forefront of wireless power development,” McNeil says. “This advanced testing facility will be one of very few of its kind in Canada.”