Regenerative braking is a nifty tech that puts the expended juice back into an EV while it decelerates. We explain how exactly this happens
Electric vehicles are fast gaining traction in India. The (relatively) more affordable electricity costs coupled with zero harmful vehicular emissions make them a better alternative to their ICE-engined counterparts. With the current level of technology, EVs’ range is mostly limited by their battery packs. Consequently, several technologies have been designed to extract the most out of a battery, and one avant-garde tech is regenerative braking. Here’s what it’s about:
A typical EV primarily comprises a battery pack and a motor. Electricity from the battery pack is transformed into rotational motion by the motor, making the vehicle move forward. Now, what happens when you brake or you let go of the throttle? Of course, the vehicle slows down but still keeps moving forward, thanks to the inertia. This inertial movement is significant enough in the beginning, and regenerative technology aims to capture this otherwise-wasted energy and put it back into the battery pack.
…by converting momentum into electricity
Electric vehicles with regenerative braking technology have motors advanced enough to act as generators when applying the brakes or when the throttle is let go. During this situation, the power to the motor is cut off. As the motor shaft slows down, this rotational motion is converted into electricity by the generator. This electricity is mostly sent back to the battery or, in some advanced EVs, stored in capacitors. This way, some of the electrical energy is ‘regenerated’ while braking. Just like any other device, regenerative braking components are not completely efficient, as losses will always be there. That said, it does help in making the EV less inefficient, as part of the expended energy is recycled, in a way.
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While an EV uses regen braking, it is essential to note that the vehicle merely slows down in the process, which does not equate to actual braking. Regular brakes will still be required to bring the car to a halt quickly.
Advanced electric vehicles will have more sophisticated regenerative braking systems that will harness energy more efficiently. On the other hand, the efficiency of regenerative braking in electric two-wheelers is usually not that high. Nevertheless, the tech is still a great way to reduce stress on the batteries every time an EV slows down and accelerates again.