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Regenerative Braking, An Overview...

10 April 2016, 10:05 AM

Everyone is aware of the fact that brakes are used to shed speed in a moving vehicle. But it was sheer genius on the part of those automotive engineers who thought of using the energy expended during braking and using it for other automotive purposes. The most common example is where the braking energy is used to recharge the car battery. However,

The way regenerative braking in cars works in principle is that it takes the kinetic energy generated during braking and turns it into electrical energy. This is done via dedicated electric motors and are commonly found in hybrid and electric cars.

Some of the new cars in India already use systems comprising of a generator/electrical motor and a battery to harness mechanical energy from electricity generated through a regeneration system. Thus when you dab the accelerator the next time, the stored energy is used to propel the vehicle forward. Of-course, no energy system is truly lossless, but through such intelligent applications, car manufacturers are pushing the mileage barrier on their hybrid and electric models.

Another place where regenerative braking in cars has been extensively trialled is Formula 1 – the pinnacle of four-wheeled track racing. KERS (acronym for Kinetic Energy Regeneration System) uses batteries or a flywheel to store the energy harnessed during braking, to offer an instant power boost that can be most useful for overtaking manoeuvres.

Volvo and other key, global manufacturers have been experimenting with the KERS application in conventional road-going cars. Initial tests have proved the supremacy of the KERS system over other, electro-mechanical solutions. So it isn’t very long before we start seeing such systems in new cars that you can drive out the showroom in the near future.

Some of the immediate advantages of regenerative braking in cars is the noticeable jump in the fuel-efficiency figures. Any cost and maintenance complexities arising out of such systems can be handled through careful engineering and factoring this in at the mock-up stages itself.

As hybrid technology goes increasingly mainstream in new cars that are used by people lower down the price range, it is only going to result in better economies of scale. Besides, the more such systems are in use, the further accelerated with be the development and advancements in the next generation of such systems.

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