Recuperation in the electric car

Reading time: approx. 4 minutes – Recuperation in electric cars is a technically extremely complex process that makes a decisive contribution to conserving resources thanks to innovative power electronics.

Recovering energy – recuperation

Technical processes for recovering energy are referred to as recuperation, which means “recovering” or “recapturing”. In an electric car, recuperation stores some of the energy used for propulsion back into the traction battery. This is made possible during deceleration of the vehicle through the use of a regenerative brake. The regenerative brake, a form of electric motor brake, has its strongest effect when driving downhill and braking in driving mode, whereby kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy.

The advantage of the regenerative brake compared to the conventional friction brake used in conventional vehicles with combustion engines is the wear-free use of electric motors, which work as electric generators. The resulting electrical energy significantly improves energy efficiency and thus increases the possible range of the car. Another positive side effect is the prevention of safety-critical “fading”, which can occur when braking systems overheat and can extend the emergency braking distance in an emergency.

Utilisation of recuperated energy in electric vehicles

The electrical energy recovered by this process is used in electric and hybrid vehicles to charge the high-voltage battery, which is responsible for the electrical supply of the system. Electric and hybrid vehicles are understood here to be the so-called BEV (battery electric vehicle) and the so-called PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle). A hybrid vehicle, also known as an HEV, does not have a charging point via which energy can be supplied externally. During recuperation, the energy is supplied to the low-voltage electrical system, as no high-voltage storage system is installed. Instead of the usual 12V, 24V or 48V batteries, supercapacitors or flywheel storage units can also be used to store the regeneratively recovered energy if the intended use requires it. Current trends indicate that in future, electrically powered vehicles are likely to be increasingly equipped with fuel cell technology.

Energy efficiency and resource conservation with the help of technical processes

The implementation of recuperative energy recovery will then be used in a similar way for the fuel cell drive. This can already be deduced from the fact that this technical process is currently achieving good results in battery electric vehicles due to its positive effect in terms of improving efficiency. Technical processes such as recuperation, which were first used over 100 years ago, are constantly being developed further, also in order to achieve the politically specified climate targets. It is also necessary to develop innovative new concepts and then implement them in the best possible way and apply them correctly. The networking of these systems within the overall system will also play an increasingly important role. This not only provides additional opportunities for optimising energy efficiency, but can also conserve resources sustainably in the long term.