Eaton is working on upgrading its hybrid electric vehicle power control system by reducing the size of the battery 50 percent and improving the total performance of the system and its charge rate while maintaining battery life, fuel economy and overall vehicle performance. The R&D project will be funded jointly between Eaton and a grant from the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). It's intended to optimize operations of hybrids, from passenger cars to commercials vehicles.

The $2.8-million project will be led by Eaton's Innovation Center team in Southfield, MI, who will work with a team from the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Eaton will leverage its expertise in intelligent power management systems and hybrid technology with the NREL's expertise in battery modeling and prognostics. Eaton thinks improving hybrid power management and extending battery life would work well in other sectors, including community infrastructure, data centers, manufacturing and industrial.

Eaton is playing a significant role in several DOE projects in advanced, efficient vehicle and fueling technologies. These include affordable home refueling stations for natural gas vehicles, compressed natural gas, research on waste heat recovery for commercial vehicles and fuel cell expander research. The 100-year old company is also playing a key role in electric vehicle charging station technologies, for example with its DC Quick Charger.

Green vehicle technologies are seeing a lot of small start-up companies come and go, and do need support government grants and well-established, solid companies like Eaton. The question for mega-companies like General Electric, Siemens, Panasonic and global automakers could be: Are green vehicle technologies worth it for you? Is this a niche you're testing out for a little while to see if sales and production ramp up enough to make it worth the investments? Eaton would probably say yes, having played a large role in commercial vehicle hybrid systems for several years, but for all the rest of it – electric vehicles and their charging stations, hybrids, natural gas vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles – a lot of investment and long-term strategic is needed. Some of these major suppliers are likely to come and go.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      The system shown is very different than that seen on current successful hybrids like the Prius that have a motor and engine working in parallel through a power-split planetary gearset. This system has the motor and engine working in series through a conventional transmission. It's basically a conventional ICE drivetrain with a motor stuck in the middle. This, I believe is the configuration of the very efficient VW XL1. This system is likely more optimal in efficiency in both EV and extended range (ER) modes. During EV mode, the transmission will allow for optimal rpm of the motor. During ER mode, energy will travel at optimal rpm through the transmission directly to the wheels. A power-split hybrid will split power from the engine into two paths. Some of the power will take a path directly to the wheels, but the other path gets converted to electricity through a generator and back to mechanical power through another motor. Although it may be slightly less than optimal, one of the big advantages to a power-split hybrids is the replacement of a complicated transmission with a simple gearset. Transmissions are often the weak link on a vehicle and represent alot of cost, space and weight. Fortunately, such a hybrid drivetrain may work well with as little as two to four speeds instead of the typical six or more seen on current ICE drivetrains.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great article on where the Dems have looked forward in new technological advances for a better green world. Leave it to the GOP led by the Tea Party and we will look back 10 years when cars were getting 20 mpg. The Dems and Pres Obama led to get cafe standards to 54 mpg by 2025 and with all the crying from the GOP led by the Tea Party that cars will cost $3000 more the car companies (most except GM) started to invest in hybrid technology. A prius thats gets 45-50 mpg cost $19k and $24k loaded. The Optima and Sonata mid size sedans cost $24k and loaded at $30-32k and get 41 mpg. Grants and loans are always required in the beginning since RD is so expensive until the final product is produced. Look at the drug companies.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always thought the hydraulic hybrid concept was interesting.
      • 2 Years Ago
      While I like what Eaton is doing, I cannot sanction their running to the government (i.e., taxpayers) to pay for this. Pay for the R & D on your own, Eaton!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Greener garbage trucks
      • 2 Years Ago
      ETN is a rock-solid manufacturer of truck products. Company has struggled a bit since the '11 split, but they are generally competitive in their respective market spaces and have some wonderful annuities in aero and heavy industrial. transpower, I can't disagree that ETN definitely has the dough to pay for their own R&D. They are right steady, reliable dividend payers (currently almost 3.5%!!)