Regenerative Braking: A Review of Types, Service & Repairs

Regenerative Braking, Auto RBS, Brake Service

Regenerative Braking: A Review of Types, Service & Repairs

Regenerative Braking, Auto RBS, Brake ServiceAs the demand for electric vehicles continues to grow, it’s essential to have a reliable auto service center that understands the unique requirements of these technologically advanced vehicles. Not all regenerative brake systems work the same way. When it comes to finding quality brake service and repairs for your electric vehicle’s regenerative braking system, look for a specialist in auto RBS.

What is Regenerative Braking?

Regenerative braking systems (RBSs) are kinetic energy recovery systems that transfer or store the energy of a moving object and help slow down a vehicle. The most widespread form of regenerative braking involves an electric motor functioning as an electricity generator some of the time.

Energy Storage Methods

Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) store the energy created through the RBS for later use. Different RBS types store that energy in different ways.

Chemically In A Rechargeable Battery

EV & HEV manufacturers use slightly different proprietary charging methods, but generally, RBSs recharge the main battery pack used for powering the vehicle until it reaches a full charge.

Electrically In A Bank Of Capacitors

Capacitors store the electrical energy generated during braking, making it available to power the vehicle during acceleration or other energy-demanding tasks. They offer high power density to store and release energy quickly, allowing them to handle the high power levels generated during braking. Capacitors also have a longer life cycle than batteries, making them more suitable for the frequent charge and discharge cycles experienced in regenerative braking. By handling the high power demands of regenerative braking, capacitors reduce stress on the vehicle’s main battery, prolonging its life and improving overall system efficiency.

Mechanically In A Rotating Flywheel, Hydraulics, or Spring

Flywheels give the drive shaft a power output higher than the power supplied by the engine alone. Flywheels store energy the drive shaft uses during acceleration, increasing the vehicle’s power or speed.

Auto RBS Types

There are multiple energy recovery types of auto RBS, including electromagnetic, flywheel, hydraulic, and spring. Different regenerative braking systems utilize different energy storage methods, resulting in varying levels of efficiency and applications. Most all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles manufactured today use some type of RBS. 

Electromagnetic Method

In an electromagnetic system, the vehicle’s drive shaft is connected to an electric generator that uses magnetic fields to limit its rotation, slowing the automobile and generating electricity. In EVs and HEVs, the vehicles’ rechargeable batteries store the generated electricity.

Electro-Flywheel Method

Electro-flywheel regenerative braking is a hybrid type of electromagnetic and flywheel method RBSs. It shares the same power generation methods as the electromagnetic system, but the energy is stored in a flywheel rather than in batteries. So, the flywheel is really like a mechanical battery where electrical power can be stored and recovered.

Flywheel Method

In flywheel RBS, the system gathers kinetic energy from the vehicle’s forward momentum to spin a flywheel connected to the drive shaft through a transmission and gearbox. The rotating flywheel can then provide torque to the drive shaft, giving the vehicle an extra power boost. The larger the flywheel, the more kinetic energy is generated. Typically, trains, semi-trailer trucks, and other large transport vehicles use modern flywheels.

Hydraulic Method

The hydraulic RBSs generate electricity, compressing a fluid or gas (often nitrogen) to slow the vehicle down. Hydraulic RBSs have the longest energy storage potential of any type, as the compressed fluid does not dissipate energy over time. However, compressing fluids into a reservoir with a pump is a time-consuming process that limits the hydraulic RBS’s power.

Spring Method

Most often, human-powered transport like bicycles and wheelchairs use the spring-loaded regenerative braking system. Recently, other personal EVs, including some e-bikes, electric scooters, and skateboards, have also utilized this type of RBS. In the spring method RBS, a coil or spring wrapped around a cone stores energy as elastic potential during active braking. The energy can then be used as extra ‘power’ to assist the vehicle in traveling uphill or over rough terrain.

Brake System Maintenance

While auto RBS is not a new technology (it has been around since the late 1800s), it continues to evolve and improve. Each auto manufacturer uses slightly different designs, components, and storage systems for its regenerative braking systems. To protect your EV or HEV, be sure to follow the factory-suggested brake maintenance schedule.

Regenerative Braking Maintenance

While RBSs work together with traditional friction brakes, they do not contain any friction components. Generally, this means RBSs require less frequent replacement parts than friction brake systems. However, the electronic components, wiring, and sensors require regular inspections to ensure their functionality.

Traditional Brake Maintenance

Vehicles with RBSs usually include some form of traditional friction braking (disc or drum) components, including:

  • Brake fluid
  • Brake pads or shoes
  • Calipers
  • Drum
  • Master cylinder
  • Rotors

Vehicles with regenerative brakes typically use these components less frequently than traditional type brakes. They will experience less wear, but these parts can rust or corrode over time from exposure and irregular use. Typically, schedule brake maintenance twice a year or read your owner’s manual for the factory-suggested maintenance schedule for your vehicle type. Routine maintenance for these components will ensure your vehicle’s safe operation.

Regenerative Braking Service & Repairs

At JJ’s Auto Care in Jacksonville, Florida, we can handle all your electric auto RBS maintenance and repair needs. Our highly skilled technicians use state-of-the-art equipment to provide exceptional brake service for your regenerative braking system.

Schedule A Regenerative Braking Appointment

Call us today at (904)721-6646 or visit us online to schedule your EV regenerative brake service appointment.