Eaton’s Breaktor technology amps up short-circuit protection

Now that autos are moving toward high-powered battery voltage, the industry is turning new attention toward making sure the flow can stop on a dime when needed.

Power management company Eaton Corp. said its upcoming Breaktor circuit protection technology works more effectively than standard circuit protector methods while also reducing maintenance costs.

Breaktor, which Eaton said has been selected by “several leading vehicle manufacturers” worldwide, is a device that will offer simplicity over typical circuit protectors. It combines the functions of traditional contactors, fuses and pyros switchers into one device, helping to offer faster and more reliable protection in the event of a short circuit, said Kevin Calzada, Eaton’s eMobility global product strategy and marketing manager.

“A typical EV battery can produce 25,000 amps of current in milliseconds, and it can be incredibly destructive if you had a short circuit, if your insulation breaks down or you’re in an accident,” Calzada told Automotive News. “We have the systems that can sense that and then shut it down very quickly.”

The supplier said Breaktor also can protect other vehicle systems from a short circuit fault of up to 900 volts and 25,000 amps in less than four milliseconds, cutting off the battery from the rest of the vehicle and preventing dangerous situations that can arise in the event of an accident or another incident.

And unlike traditional technologies, the system can then be reset without having to replace any parts, helping to cut down on repair costs for customers.

“It adds a lot of value, in terms of warranty and maintenance, because of its repeatability,” Calzada said.

Some automakers have taken a financial hit because of recalls or warranty claims related to traditional circuit protection systems. Calzada pointed to recalls of traditional traction fuses that operated when they are not designed to, needlessly interrupting power to the vehicle and becoming a safety risk.

“OEMs are recognizing that there are really significant deficiencies” in traditional systems, Calzada said.

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