What Is Dynamic Braking? Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever heard a train locomotive humming while it sits in the station waiting to head off? If the answer is yes, you’ve been listening to the locomotive’s dynamic braking system.
You’ve likely never even questioned this humming noise. But without that noise, the dynamic braking system would overheat and cause a lot of damage.
No clue what dynamic braking is? Not a problem. In fact, here’s the scoop on what it is, how it works, and how it’s used. Read on to learn all the basic essentials about dynamic braking.

What Is Dynamic Braking?

The essence of dynamic braking is when a traction motor is used to help slow down a vehicle. This kind of braking differs from brake pads you typically find on a car or bike.
There are different types of dynamic braking, but the use of an electric traction motor is common to them all. Dynamic braking reduces wear and tear on brakes because there is a reduction in the amount of friction between brake pads.
Dynamic braking is typically found in electric vehicles such as a train locomotive, trolleys, trams, and even electric cars.

How Does It Work?

A vehicle, such as a train locomotive, generates electrical current as it moves along the track. This energy is converted from kinetic energy (forward motion) to a dynamic brake that slows the train.
The energy produced in the motor is converted into traction-motor fields. These motors become generators. The generator slows the motor so that it becomes a brake, causing the locomotive to slow down.
The actual brakes used in a dynamic braking system are either DC (direct current) or AC brakes, which use alternating current.

Why Is It Used?

Dynamic braking is a preferred method of slowing moving vehicles or equipment when electrical energy builds up and needs to be discarded. The excess energy is converted into slowing power to reduce the energy buildup, but also to reuse it in a useful way.
In dynamic braking, the excess energy is reduced through heat loss when slowing the motor on the vehicle down.

Regenerative Dynamic Braking

The classic form of dynamic braking is called rheostatic braking. This is when the heat and energy are dissipated through use and heat loss. The heat is got rid of through onboard resistors.
Regenerative braking is the most common of the other forms of dynamic braking. In this process, the energy that is built up is reused by feeding it back into the system so that it can be used elsewhere.
The good thing about regenerative dynamic braking is that no energy is wasted. The generated energy doesn’t escape as heat.

Dynamic Braking Helps You Stop!

As you can see, using dynamic braking can be helpful for any electric-powered motor. The braking is more effective and efficient.
Dynamic braking, either in regenerative or rheostatic form, makes use of the vehicle’s motion to create the energy that will then be used to slow or stop that vehicle.
Technology can be tough to understand sometimes. Knowing what things do and what they’re used for is what we do. So, check out our website for more useful articles about how things work and why.