TTI’s business development manager, Steve Brahosky, discusses the connector technologies that will allow the promises of electrification to become realities
The desire to become less fossil-fuel dependent and reduce carbon footprints has led to innovation in e-mobility by private industry, with government initiatives serving as a catalyst. Attention has focused on interconnectivity within the vehicle, particularly high-voltage, high power connectors that withstand harsh electrical and physical environments. However, infrastructure is also needed to support e-mobility and the transmission of AC/DC power from the grid to the vehicle, along with data transmission between both for diagnostics and monitoring.
At the same time, component suppliers and design engineers are seeing the bigger picture of electrification’s benefits—and infrastructure requirements—beyond the vehicle to the charging station and associated data links. As we innovate to electrify transportation, we reveal opportunities to improve connectivity throughout society.
Beyond charging cables with emerging standards that control the connector interface, there are other solutions in the charging station or wall box. High-speed, high-reliability connectors will transmit data from those charging stations and electricity meters, delivering real-time intelligence on electrical demand.
Thanks to this smart grid technology, utilities will be able to better balance loads and adjust the amount of power generated. From solar installations and power plants to the charging station, the connectors supplying these sensors with power and transmitting their data must be highly-reliable to ensure a lower operating cost and longer service life. Cables and cordsets must also meet service requirements in applications where equipment is close to high-voltage cabling.
Meanwhile, powertrain electrification has gone beyond passenger vehicles to encompass agricultural/industrial machines, trucks and last-mile delivery fleets. From freight yards to airports, new charging infrastructure will need to deliver energy reliably—creating demand for connectors required to keep vehicles and equipment functioning.
These applications require connection systems that support fast charging with protection against overheating—allowing rapid and accurate temperature measurement on the contacts. More connectors will be required for transmitting data among sensor and camera systems for ADAS and infotainment, communicating with high-resolution displays and external cellular applications.
All of these connectors need sealing from the hazards of automotive/industrial environments including high-pressure water jets, dust/dirt, oil, fertilizer and more, while meeting IP67, IP68 or IP69K and other standards as needed.
Thanks to TTI’s John Sandy and Scott Stemley who contributed to this article.