R&D and innovation

Innovating for positive impact

Many of our customers have committed to ambitious goals to reduce their impacts, and we recognise that our products and services help them shrink their footprints. We are helping make this happen by developing innovative products and solutions that enable customers to conserve resources; decrease fuel use and emissions; and make smart energy decisions through Internet of Things connectivity – all while increasing reliability, durability and safety.

Clean tech innovation aligned with the UN SDGs

Our innovation strategy is advancing our commitment to cleaner, lower carbon technology and solutions. Our customer solutions solve global sustainability challenges and align closely with four of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations: 

  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Sustainable cities and communities

Environmental impact doesn’t stop at political borders. We are committed to being the best global citizen we can be and helping others achieve their goals as well.

$551m
The amount we invested in research and development in 2020
>10 k
We have a global network of 6 innovation centres and 10,000+ engineers
$3 bn
Our investment in R&D targeted at creating sustainable solutions by 2030

Positive Impact Framework (PIF)

To ensure every Eaton product improves on its predecessor, we ask our engineers to complete a Positive Impact Framework (PIF) assessment during the design phase. This allows them to re-examine products from a different perspective, evaluating six key dimensions of sustainability through a new set of eyes:

  • Environmental footprint
  • Human and ecological toxicity
  • Efficiency during use-phase
  • Safety and reliability
  • Cost of ownership
  • Socio-economic benefits

Our framework takes into account a host of sustainability factors, including raw materials, energy efficiency, ease of recycling, and much more.

Design for the Environment (DfE)

A circular economy relies on designing out waste and pollution and optimising the use of natural resources. Our production processes follow several of these principles.

For example, we are developing solutions for second-life electric vehicle batteries, extending their lives before the batteries are ultimately recycled. We partnered with Nissan to use second-life lithium ion batteries from their electric vehicles in our xStorage energy storage systems. For example, the xStorage Buildings system installed at the Johann Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam uses the equivalent of 63 second-life Nissan Leaf batteries as part of the solution.

And our Transfer Switch Monitor 900 makes it easier and more cost-effective to upgrade existing equipment rather than perform a total equipment replacement. This approach prolongs the useful life of equipment and helps prevent unnecessary waste.

We continually take environmental concerns into account as a part of our product design process. The principle objective of Design for the Environment (DfE) is to reduce the overall impact of a product across its life cycle – production, distribution, use and end of life. Four characteristics guide our design decisions: energy efficiency, resource efficiency, recycling and compliance with regulations. We use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to calculate the potential environmental impacts of a growing selection of products adhering to ISO 14040/14044 standards.

Related key sustainability topics