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Eaton to develop 48-volt technologies to better meet emissions regulations

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Managing Editor of Fleet Equipment Magazine

Eaton announced that it has developed a series of 48-volt technologies to assist customers who may want to transition from traditional 12- and 24-volt vehicle systems to systems that include 48-volt architecture. These 48-volt systems can power new, advanced energy-consuming components and can help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy and performance, Eaton says. 

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Most vehicles have traditionally operated with a 12-volt system, but with tightening fuel economy regulations and new, advanced power-consuming components being added, Eaton says that increasing power needs are driving the move toward 48-volt systems.

“This development comes as global vehicle manufacturers are making decisions to adopt new technologies to meet emissions regulations,” said Ben Karrer, manager of technology development for Eaton’s Vehicle Group. “Of the options available, 48-volt architectures are becoming more popular because they can decrease both CO2 and NOx simultaneously, which helps both our customers and the environment.”  

Benefits, according to Eaton, include the following:

  • 48-volt architecture can reduce mechanical loads and CO2. Eaton is developing 48-volt systems that include motor generators and inverters that generate 48-volt DC power for the vehicle. Eaton also produces 48-volt DC/DC converters that step power down from 48-volt vehicle architectures to power 12- and 24-volt systems.
  • 48-volt systems can heat aftertreatment catalysts to reduce NOx emissions. This active heating helps catalyst components reach efficient operating temperatures faster upon engine start and maintain those temperatures during low load operation, Eaton says.
  • Electrified cooling offers multiple environmental, efficiency improvements. An electrical engine cooling fan and electric air conditioning compressor are also under development by Eaton. Electrifying the cooling fan provides additional benefits, as it could be reduced in size and strategically placed within the engine bay, allowing for aerodynamic design flexibility to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. 

Additionally, Eaton is developing a wide range of 48-volt energy storage solutions, including lead-acid batteries and supercapacitors.

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