Regenerative Braking system

What is Regenerative Braking In Cars & How Does It Work?

Regenerative Braking System: Construction and working:

The regenerative braking system is an advanced, and supplementary braking system, that is used along with the conventional braking system; in modern electric/hybrid vehicles. Most of the latest vehicles from manufacturers, such as; TeslaToyota, Volkswagen, and Mercedes use the regenerative braking technology.

Why use regenerative braking?

The conventional braking causes friction between brake pads and brake disc. It converts the vehicle's kinetic energy into heat, which goes waste. However, the regenerative system recovers some of the waste energy and puts it to work again. The system captures and converts this waste energy into electricity. The electricity, thus regenerated; charges the battery of an electric or hybrid vehicle.

How Regenerative braking works?

In the regenerative braking system, the motor; which drives an electric vehicle, also performs the function of braking. The system consists of an electric motor with dual function. It works as a motor, in one direction and also as a generator, in the opposite direction. When it runs as a motor, it converts electrical energy into mechanical energy and drives the wheels. However, while braking; it runs in the opposite direction and becomes an electric generator. Applying the brakes of an electric or hybrid vehicle causes the electric motor to run in reverse direction i.e. in generator mode, thereby; slowing down the wheels.

Regenerative Braking diagram
Regenerative Braking diagram

During this time, the wheels transfer the kinetic energy or momentum; back to the generator. While rotating, the generator converts this kinetic energy into electrical energy. Later, it transfers the electricity generated back to the batteries, thereby; charging them.

The regenerative braking uses complex electronic circuits, to choose between; the forward/reverse direction of rotation of the motor. In some cases, the capacitors are used to store the electrical energy for later use. Keeping the battery fully charged; especially in electric vehicles, is very helpful; which extends their driving range. It also helps to improve the mileage and reduce emissions to some extent in case of hybrid vehicles.

Limitations of regenerative braking:

The regenerative system has some limitations. It performs effectively only up to certain speeds; especially in the 'stop-and-go' driving condition. The braking is usually slower as compared to the conventional brakes. Also, it is not very efficient at lower speeds. Hence, the braking duties are not entrusted; solely upon the regenerative braking. It only assists the regular brakes in the more effective way. In case, if the motor fails to slow down the vehicle quickly, the electronic control module applies the conventional friction brakes and stops the vehicle.

Watch how regenerative brakes work, here:

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About Shirish

Shirish is a technical consultant & blogger with experience of over 20 years in the automobile field. He regularly publishes specific technical articles on automotive technology. When not writing a blog, he wanders in nature or goes on long-distance motorcycle rides.

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