Why Regenerative Brakes are assisted with the Frictional Brake?

The friction brake is a necessary back-up in the event of failure of the regenerative brake.

Most road vehicles with regenerative braking only have power on some wheels (as in a two-wheel drive car) and regenerative braking power only applies to such wheels, so in order to provide controlled braking under difficult conditions (such as in wet roads) friction based braking is necessary on the other wheels.

The amount of electrical energy capable of dissipation is limited by either the capacity of the supply system to absorb this energy or on the state of charge of the battery or capacitors. No regenerative braking effect can occur if another electrical component on the same supply system is not currently drawing power and if the battery or capacitors are already charged. For this reason, it is normal to also incorporate dynamic braking to absorb the excess energy.

Under emergency braking it is desirable that the braking force exerted be the maximum allowed by the friction between the wheels and the surface without slipping, over the entire speed range from the vehicle’s maximum speed down to zero. The maximum force available for acceleration is typically much less than this except in the case of extreme high-performance vehicles. Therefore, the power required to be dissipated by the braking system under emergency braking conditions may be many times the maximum power which is delivered under acceleration. Traction motors sized to handle the drive power may not be able to cope with the extra load and the battery may not be able to accept charge at a sufficiently high rate. Friction braking is required to absorb the surplus energy in order to allow an acceptable emergency braking performance.

For these reasons there is typically the need to control the regenerative braking and match the friction and regenerative braking to produce the desired total braking output.


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