Lightweight split 48/12V PMU for high-performance EVs and hybrids

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Sprint Power, a British technology company specializing in electrified propulsion systems, power electronics and battery systems, has launched a power module unit (PMU) that combines a split 48V/12V power system. The company says that the PMU places all key components in one compact package, which it claims enables car makers to achieve significant space and weight savings compared with existing solutions.

Originally designed for an upcoming supercar being manufactured by a global OEM, the PMU was designed specifically for vehicles that feature both 48V and 12V systems and to this end, it can automatically draw energy from both power outputs simultaneously. It can also be incorporated into mild-hybrid (MHEV) vehicles, while external charging capabilities also allow for future plug-in applications.

The PMU houses a 48V and 12V battery, a DC-DC converter and a battery management system (BMS), all of which are packaged within a compact case featuring shared paneling and integrated heating and cooling systems. The unit measures just 440 x 320 x 130mm.

The L-spaced housing contains 110 cells positioned along the bottom of the unit for the integrated 48V and 12V battery. Fast-acting heating and cooling systems are integrated directly within the module, with heating elements placed between each cell along with thermocouples to control temperature across the pack. Cooling plates are used to prevent overheating and ensure the unit remains at optimum operating temperature. Positioned alongside the DC-DC converter is the BMS, which communicates directly with the vehicle’s control systems.

According to the company, the PMU has been designed to be as light as possible. While existing solutions require separate units featuring individual harnesses, housings and connectors, significant weight savings have been achieved by combining all components into one PMU.

Sprint says it also paid close attention to using lightweight yet durable materials and components. Instead of using a conventional wiring harness, the PMU uses flexible printed circuits for improved packaging benefits and weight savings. Elsewhere, the unit’s case is made using injection-molded carbon composite, while aluminum is used instead of copper for the PMU’s bus bar arrangement to save further weight. The result is a PMU weighing less than 15kg.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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