Diversified power management company, Eaton Corporation, has announced that it will begin developing a cost-efficient powertrain control system for hybrid vehicles, which will reduce the size of the system’s battery without compromising overall vehicle performance.

The development project will cost $2.5 million, and is funded jointly between the corporation and a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). The project aims to reduce the size of the system’s battery by 50 percent and improve its charge rate, while also enhancing the overall performance of the system. The projected battery will be capable of maintaining high-quality fuel economy and overall vehicle performance.

“This project is a continuation of Eaton’s keen focus on hybrid technology development and our confidence in the value of hybrids for the future,” said Tom Stover, chief technology officer, for Eaton’s Vehicle Group. “Eaton is continuing to invest in developing the infrastructure that supports the future of the transportation industry, and this project is an example of how we are working to find safe, efficient and sustainable ways to improve hybrid vehicle performance.”

Eaton Corporation’s schematic for its new powertrain control system. Credit: Eaton.

Engineers and scientists from Eaton’s Innovation Center in Southfield, Michigan, will partner with a team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to work on producing the battery.

NREL is a national laboratory based in Golden, Colorado dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies at all stages, from their invention to their commercial application. NREL’s state-of-the-art Energy Storage Laboratory (one of several laboratories that the organization operates) specifically focuses on research to improve battery module and pack designs for automobile manufacturers and battery developers. The Energy Storage Laboratory houses several cutting-edge battery modeling and analysis tools, including two unique calorimeters and several battery testers, which are used to measure heat generation from batteries and ultracapacitors (devices for accumulating electric charges, according to the World English Dictionary).

The collaboration between NREL and Eaton Corporation will allow both companies to apply their specific spheres of expertise to the production of the new hybrid battery: battery modeling and prognostics for NREL, and power management systems and hybrid technology for Eaton.

Eaton Corporation is optimistic about the project, and foresees the possibility of expanding the completed hybrid battery into other sectors of the market with a demand for long-lasting hybrid power management systems, including data centers, industry, community infrastructure, and manufacturing.

This is the second ARPA-E grant that Eaton has received within the past month. The other project was a $3.4 million grant to develop affordable home refueling stations for natural gas vehicles.

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