Discovery Center of Idaho Regenerative Braking Demonstration

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2010

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. James Ferguson


With the advent of electric vehicles and the focus on energy conservation, it is necessary to educate the public regarding these technologies. The Discovery Center of Idaho requests an interactive, fun, intuitive, and educational display about the technology of regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is a process in which kinetic energy is scavenged during braking by attaching a DC generator to the wheel. When a load is applied to the generator, the resistance in the wheel’s rotation slows the vehicle. This scavenged energy is then used to recharge the electric vehicle's batteries. The energy in these batteries is then reapplied to driving the vehicle. The goal of this project is to demonstrate this process on a smaller, more visual scale. This senior design group will design and fabricate a regenerative braking display suitable for all ages. For safety and durability, it will be designed for the worst case scenario of a child operating the display. Energy supply and demands must be focused on. Using basic equations to determine the energy stored within a flywheel, in this case a bicycle tire; other components can be sized and designed. The energy scavenged during the braking process will be stored within capacitors which allow for fast charging and discharging. To help make the connection between the display and “real world” application the team will implement the use of bicycle parts. Because bicycle parts have been designed for the repeated abuse of riding, the team is confident they will withstand the less-demanding environment of DCI. Using bicycle parts will also streamline fabrication. This project is projected to fulfill all requirements; providing a safe, interactive, and educational display for all ages.

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