Hybrid drive systems able to recover and reuse braking energy of the vehicle can reduce fuel consumption, air pollution and operating costs. Among them, hydraulic recuperation systems are particularly suitable for commercial vehicles, especially if they are already equipped with a hydraulic system. Thus far, the investigation of such systems has been limited to individual components or optimizing their control. In this paper, we focus on thermodynamic effects and their impact on the overall systems energy saving potential using endoreversible thermodynamics as the ideal framework for modeling. The dynamical behavior of the hydraulic recuperation system as well as energy savings are estimated using real data of a vehicle suitable for application. Here, energy savings accelerating the vehicle around 10% and a reduction in energy transferred to the conventional disc brakes around 58% are predicted. We further vary certain design and loss parameters—such as accumulator volume, displacement of the hydraulic unit, heat transfer coefficients or pipe diameter—and discuss their influence on the energy saving potential of the system. It turns out that heat transfer coefficients and pipe diameter are of less importance than accumulator volume and displacement of the hydraulic unit.
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