This Is Continental’s Ultra-Smart Regenerative Braking Concept
Continental has given the Daft Punk treatment to regenerative braking systems with this novel design.
Regenerative braking systems are among the most important technologies for both hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Instead of using brake pads to convert kinetic energy into thermal energy, they recover kinetic energy lost on deceleration as electric energy for future use. They have been in use on road cars for years and have even been utilized in the highest levels of motorsport, such as Formula One, endurance racing, and Formula E. With that said, these regenerative systems tend to tack extra tech onto otherwise simple friction braking systems, making them heavy, complex, and difficult to service. Things need not be so complex, though, according to Continental Tire.
Continental has streamlined the design of regenerative brakes with a new concept, one it says has next to no shortcomings. Its construction has been boiled down to what is effectively a mere four parts: the rim and tire, the carrier star, the brake rotor, and the brake caliper.
The rim and carrier star bolt together to form the wheel, but the rim itself comes free of the carrier for maintenance. The carrier star attaches to the brake rotor and the wheel hub, with the brake caliper inside the rotor as opposed to outside.
Because of the redesign, many parts can be made from aluminum instead of iron or steel, including the brake rotor itself. The aluminum construction allows for greater corrosion resistance and less weight (4.4 pounds of unsprung weight per corner) than a steel or iron design, and in spite of the fact that aluminum has a lower specific heat than steel, the decreased reliance on the friction brake and the greater surface area would prevent overheating or accelerated wear on the brake rotor. Continental says the friction brake would see use only in heavy braking situations, such as an emergency stop. Instead, this system is designed to use regenerative braking as the primary source of stopping power, with wasteful friction braking being called upon only in time of need.
Continental says the concept was developed for use in midsize to compact vehicles, though given the increasing demand for heavy-duty electric vehicles, it may be only a matter of time before Continental has to adapt its idea to be capable of handling intense professional or industrial service.