Retarder (mechanical engineering)
||This article appears to contradict another article. (November 2010)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2009)|
Friction-based braking systems are susceptible to 'brake fade' when used extensively for continuous periods, which can be dangerous if braking performance drops below what is required to stop the vehicle – for instance if a truck or bus is descending a long decline. For this reason, such heavy vehicles are frequently fitted with a supplementary system that is not friction-based.
Retarders are not restricted to road motor vehicles, but may also be used in railway systems. The British prototype Advanced Passenger Train (APT) used hydraulic retarders to allow the high-speed train to stop in the same distance as standard lower speed trains, as a pure friction-based system was not viable.
Retarders serve to slow vehicles, or maintain a steady speed on declines, and help prevent the vehicle 'running away' by accelerating down the decline. They are not usually capable of bringing vehicles to a standstill, as their effectiveness diminishes as vehicle speed lowers. They are usually used as an additional 'assistance' to slow vehicles, with the final braking done by a conventional friction braking system. As the friction brake will be used less, particularly at higher speeds, their service life is increased.
The engine brake
Diesel powered vehicles
Diesel engined vehicles do not have a throttle. Diesel engines regulate power output purely by the volume and timing of fuel injected into the cylinders combustion chambers. The engine braking generated by creating partial vacuum with a closed throttle at each intake stroke in petrol/gasoline engines does not apply to diesel engined vehicles - diesel engines are quite 'free-running'. However Clessie L. Cummins, founder of Cummins Engine Company, realized that by opening the cylinder exhaust valves when the piston reached top dead centre, rather than at the end of the power stroke, the accumulated compressed air in the cylinder could be vented before it could act as a 'spring' to drive the piston back down again. By doing this, the engine acts as an air compressor, with the energy coming from the transmission used to compress the air, hence slowing the vehicle. The amount of power extracted from the transmission can be up to 90% of the rated power of the engine for certain engines.
This type of retarder is known as a compression release brake. A disadvantage of this system is that it becomes very noisy in operation if the exhaust muffler is faulty, its use is therefore banned in some locales.
The exhaust brake
The exhaust brake is simpler in operation than an engine brake. Essentially, the exhaust pipe of the vehicle is restricted by a valve. This raises the pressure in the exhaust system, forcing the engine to work harder on the exhaust stroke of its cylinders, so again the engine is acting as an air compressor, with the power required to compress the air being withheld from the exhaust pipe, retarding the vehicle. A disadvantage of this system is that the exhaust pipe has to be engineered to accommodate the high pressure generated. The retarding horsepower available from this system is significantly lower than other systems. It can cause a marked increase in engine oil carry-over out the crankcase ventilation system.
The hydraulic retarder
Hydraulic retarders use the viscous drag forces between dynamic and static vanes in a fluid-filled chamber to achieve retardation. There are several different types which can use standard transmission fluid (gear oil), a separate oil supply, or water.
A simple retarder uses vanes attached to a transmission driveshaft between the clutch and roadwheels. They can also be driven separately via gears off a driveshaft. The vanes are enclosed in a static chamber with small clearances to the chamber's walls (which will also be vaned), as in an automatic transmission. When retardation is required, fluid (oil or water) is pumped into the chamber, and the viscous drag induced will slow the vehicle. The working fluid will heat, and is usually circulated through a cooling system. The degree of retardation can be varied by adjusting the fill level of the chamber.
Hydraulic retarders are extremely quiet, often inaudible over the sound of a running engine, and are especially quiet in operation compared to engine brakes.
The electric retarder
The electric retarder uses electromagnetic induction to provide a retardation force. An electric retardation unit can be placed on an axle, transmission, or driveline and consists of a rotor attached to the axle, transmission, or driveline - and a stator securely attached to the vehicle chassis. There are no contact surfaces between the rotor and stator, and no working fluid. When retardation is required, the electrical windings in the stator receive power from the vehicle battery, producing a magnetic field through which the rotor moves. This induces eddy currents in the rotor, which produces an opposing magnetic field to the stator. The opposing magnetic fields slows the rotor, and hence the axle, transmission or driveshaft to which it is attached. The rotor incorporates internal vanes (like a ventilated brake disk) to provide its own air cooling, so no load is placed on the vehicle's engine cooling system. The operation of the system is extremely quiet.
A hybrid vehicle drivetrain uses electrical retardation to assist the mechanical brakes, while recycling the energy. The electric traction motor acts as a generator to charge the battery. The power stored in the battery is available to help the vehicle accelerate.
||This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (November 2009)|
- Pennet.com, Overview of retardation systems. (This is probably a wrong link since it is about fire retardation systems.)
- JakeBrake.com, A manufacturer of engine brakes
- Voithturbo.com, A manufacturer of oil- and water - based hydraulic retarders
- APT-P.com, The Advanced Passenger Train 'hydro-kinetic' brakes
- Frenelsa.com, A manufacturer of electric retarders
- Zelusl.com, A manufacturer of electric retarders
- Telmausa.com, A manufacturer of electric retarders