How does Regenerative Braking work?
Did you know that whenever you’re behind the wheel, and you put your foot on the brake even a little bit… you’re wasting energy? It’s true, but thanks to a certain technology that we’ll be looking at in this week’s How’s This Work, there is a pretty good solution to this unfortunate truth. The technology is called regenerative braking, and it comes standard on most electric vehicles and many hybrid vehicles as well. We thought we’d take a look at what the technology is and, more specifically, how exactly it works.
[ LAST WEEK: How does the drivetrain work? ]
What is Regenerative Braking?
As we stated, every time you apply pressure to your vehicle’s brakes, you’re wasting energy. But a regenerative braking system will take that energy and do something useful with it, rather than simply letting it dissipate into heat or something else. The goal of a regenerative braking system is to take that energy and either utilize it immediately, or store it for later use. In the end, regenerative braking greatly improves the efficiency of a vehicle, but could also extend the life of your brakes by quite a bit by reducing the normal wear and tear.
Most commonly, regenerative brakes work in conjunction with an electric motor. The energy normally wasted in the act of braking is instead stored in the vehicle’s electric battery, thus allowing for a bit of extra juice and extending the driving range. In a hybrid or electric vehicle, a battery is there to support the electric motor. It’s what propels the vehicle forward when not using a gas engine, and so storing the energy from regenerative braking recharges that battery slightly on the go. It’s not going to add a ton of extra mileage or charge, but it is putting that wasted energy to good use.
Watching the video below will give you a good idea of just how much energy can be saved and stored through regenerative braking. You can find the technology in vehicles like the 2016 Toyota Prius, and it’ll be a huge feature in the upcoming 2017 Toyota Prius Prime. If you have any questions about how the feature works, or would like to know which other vehicles it might be found in, feel free to give us a call.