I published a post regarding how much energy is captured in the regenerative braking system in my Lexus CT200h hybrid. After some discussion with commenter Gabriel Grosskopf, I estimated that about 59% of the energy available (after subtracting the energy used to overcome aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance, and internal friction) was recaptured and used to charge the battery.

Since I (and others) have represented that the regenerative braking system is among the key reasons that hybrids achieve superior fuel economy, I decided to check the actual impact.

My round trip commute, generally downhill in the morning and uphill in the evening, is 62.46 miles and, for the last 10 fill ups, my average m.p.g. has been 52.47. So, to make my commute, I use, on average 62.46/52.47=1.190 gallons of gasoline. My display showed me today that my regenerative braking system added 700 watt hours or 2,520,000 joules to my battery that I could use for accelerating, hill climbing, etc. If I assume my electric motor is 90% efficient, I put 2,268,000 of these joules to work.

A gallon of gasoline (reformulated blend in this case) has an energy upon oxidation of 111,836 btu or 117,993,000 joules. I estimate that my internal combustion engine is about 25% efficient, so I put about 29,498,000 of these joules to work. My 1.19 gallons thus provide 35,103,000 joules that propel my vehicle (the remainder being lost as waste heat in myriad ways).

If I assume that I used all of the energy my brakes provided, then 35,103,000 + 2,268,000 = 37,371,000 joules of work were done to propel my car. Then, dividing by 0.25, I can estimate that 149,484,000 joules of oxidized gasoline would have been necessary to do this work. This is the energy in 1.267 gallons. Dividing this into 62.46, I find that the fuel economy without the regenerative braking would have been about 49.30 m.p.g. The regenerative braking thus upped my m.p.g. by 3.17.

As I've often said, it's much more intuitively informative to discuss gallons per mile, or gallons per 100 miles. So, the regenerative braking took me from 2.03 gallons per 100 miles to 1.91 gallons per 100 miles. So it takes me 5.9% less fuel to go a given distance, ceteris parabus.

There's no question that I'm carrying a lot more significant figures (apologies to John Denker) than are warranted by the precision of my data, but I think that the figure I've determined is probably in the ballpark.

## 1 comment:

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