Regenerative Braking is the new revolutionary technology that forms a part of the microhybrid breed of vehicles. Generally a combination of Startstop function (discussed in the previous article ) and regenerative braking form the common breed of microhybrids.
“Regenerative” as the name suggests involves re -using or re-producing the energy that is usually lost in other ways. As a matter of fact, the universal principle of energy in physics states that energy can neither be lost nor produced, it can only be converted from one form to another .Similarly in a car that uses regenerative braking, the energy usually spent or released as heat during conventional braking is actually re used in a way to re-charge the batteries of the car. Sounds complicated but thats true.During regenerative braking, the vehicle is still in motion but does’nt demand extra power from the engine owing to the fact that it has to quickly decelerate.At this moment, the kinetic energy already stored in the vehicle’s motion due to its own inertia keeps driving the vehicle during deceleration. The principle of regenerative braking uses this particular time duration to use the vehicle’s kinetic energy to re- charge the batteries. Thus the battery recharging is done in a different way when compared to the conventional vehicles where the engine power itself is used to re -charge the battery whenever the charge level is low.
The high end BMW uses regenerative braking to re-charge its batteries while i use a different kind of regeneration in my conventional car. Although i dont have a car to re-charge my battery during braking, i ocassionally try to regenerate or re-use the energy provided by the engine by usually travelling in neutral gear during downhill. An other way is to completely switch off the engine to use my vehicle’s inertia to keep moving as I coast to complete halt .As I travel downhill in the neutral gear, my vehicle has no resistance from the driving gears and thus I also save a little more fuel owing to the lower engine speed during a neutral gear. The concept remains the same and I bet most of the truckdrivers in the developing countries use this age old technique of regeneration.