Car Design and Safety
When you apply the brakes to slow down a car, work is done. The brakes reduce kinetic energy of the car by transferring it into heat (and sound) energy. In traditional breaking systems that would be the end of the story, but new regenative breaking systems used in some electric or hybrid cars make use of the energy, instead of converting it all into heat during breaking.
- Regenerative breaks use the system that drives the vehicle to do the majority of the braking.
- Rather than converting the kinetic energy of the vehicle into heat energy, the breaks put the energy into the vehicle's motor into reverse. With the motor running backwards, the wheels are slowed.
- At the same time, the motor acts as an electric generator, converting kinetic energy into elctrical energy that is stored as chemical energy in the vehical's battery. This is the advantage of regneration brakes - they store the energy of breaking rather than wasting it.
Converting Kinetic Energy in Crashes
- If a car crashes, it will slow down very quickly - this means that a lot of kinetic energy is converted into other forms of energy in a short amount of time, which can be dangerous for people's insides.