Eaton Unveils Breakthrough Fuel-Saving Technology

January 07, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

Eaton Corp. (Detroit, MI) announced that it has developed a practical method to recover energy normally lost during vehicle braking, and convert it into hydraulic power that can be used for vehicle acceleration. The breakthrough could result in vehicle fuel savings of 25 to 35 percent in some key applications.

The technology, called hydraulic launch assist (HLA), has been developed by Eaton in a collaborative program with Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI) and was unveiled in the Ford Mighty F-350 TONKA concept truck. The HLA product could be ready for commercial introduction by mid-decade, and Eaton said the total potential for this technology could approach $500.0 million industry-wide by the end of the decade.

HLA works by recovering a portion of the energy normally wasted as heat by the vehicle's brakes. This converted energy is held in fluid form in an on-board reservoir, or accumulator, until the driver next accelerates the vehicle. Fuel savings occurs when the stored energy is then used in conjunction with the engine-based power in the initial, high-fuel-consumption acceleration of the vehicle.