Eaton aims to reduce DC charging complexity and cost

Power management company Eaton has been awarded a grant of $4.9 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to reduce the cost and complexity of deploying DC electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

During the three-year program, Eaton aims to develop and demonstrate a novel, compact and turnkey solution for DC fast-charging infrastructure that is meant to reduce costs by 65%. This should be possible through improvements in power conversion and grid interconnection technology, as well as charger integration and modularity, and installation time.

“Mass EV adoption requires a much simpler approach to charging infrastructure that doesn’t have a big impact on local power systems,” said Chris Butler, president for Critical Power and Digital Infrastructure at Eaton. “We’re leveraging long-standing expertise, research and partnerships to fast-track the electrification of transport by reducing the steps required to connect charging systems directly to the utility distribution system.”

The idea is that Eaton develops a unique solid-state transformer design and modular chargers that are then packaged on a compact skid. This makes installation faster and should reduce the amount of equipment required while minimising both deployment costs as well as footprint. The need for additional power conversion devices and associated commissioning should be eliminated by the use of this solid-state transformer technology that enables a direct connection to the utility medium-voltage distribution system. The solution should also help avoid costs by forecasting energy demand and catering to the off-peak prices with the help of integrated energy management and charge control software.

While Eaton is leading the project, partners include the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), North Carolina State University (NCSU), University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), ITC Holdings, and CALSTART. Eaton says that the project is building on experience and knowledge gained through previous federally funded projects on solid-state transformers, solar-plus-storage and DC systems.

“One of the biggest challenges to the buildout of complete EV charging infrastructure is coordinating with stakeholders,” explains Eaton’s Vijay Bhavaraju, who is leading the project. “In addition to leveraging the expertise of our project partners, we’re actively engaging with community, business and government leaders to help ensure everyone is able to experience the long-term benefits of electrifying transport.”

Eaton launched an e-mobility business unit in 2018 to develop high-voltage technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles. In the meantime, the firm has also branched out into fuel cell technology and also has partnerships with Bellard. Earlier this year Eaton bought up charging specialist Green Motion.


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