Eaton debuts programmable ECU for electronically heated catalysts

Eaton's new 48-volt programmable ECU

Eaton announced Thursday its eMobility business has introduced a 48-volt programmable power electronics control unit for electrically heated catalysts that can be used by commercial vehicle manufacturers to meet tightening global emissions regulations.

Eaton says rapidly warming up the exhaust aftertreatment catalyst, and keeping it warm during low engine load operation, is essential for optimal performance to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) exhaust emissions.

“Commercial vehicle manufacturers face new challenges generating and controlling this level of electrical power for a single vehicle accessory,” says Tom Stoltz, chief engineer, 48-volt Systems, Eaton’s eMobility business. “Our control unit helps them overcome these challenges and enables electrical integration in meeting future ultralow nitrogen oxide emissions regulations.”

According to Eaton, the air-cooled electric catalyst heater controller is part of Eaton’s broader 48-volt electrical system portfolio, which contains several technologies that allow manufacturers to integrate 48-volt architectures in next-generation vehicles. Eaton’s family of electric heater power electronics controllers are being developed for solutions between 2 kW and 15 kW of power and operate with up to 99 percent peak efficiency. The controller is designed to receive power commands from the aftertreatment system, provide soft-start and soft-stop capabilities for assisting in maintaining system voltage control, and diagnostic feedback of the heater element, the company says.

“The aftertreatment catalyst heater controller contains all the necessary power electronics to smoothly deliver power to the heater and ensure the vehicle electrical system remains stable during heater operation,” Stoltz says. 

Eaton notes this technology comes at a time when vehicle manufacturers are facing tightening emissions standards around the globe. In Europe, the next stage of emissions standards, known as Euro VII for heavy-duty diesel trucks, is targeted for introduction as early as 2026. In the U.S., the California Air Resources Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are introducing more stringent regulations in 2024 and 2027. Collectively, the new regulations are designed to reduce tailpipe NOx limits by up to 90 percent, thus accelerating the need for global engine manufacturers to employ additional emission-reducing strategies such as electric catalyst heating.

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