Friction brakes, the most common kind, operate on the principle that friction can be used to convert the mechanical energy of a moving object into heat energy, which is absorbed by the brake. The essential components of a friction brake are a rotating part, such as a wheel, axle, disk, or brake drum, and a stationary part that is pressed against the rotating part to slow or stop it. The stationary part usually has a lining, called a brake lining, that can generate a great amount of friction yet give long wear; it formerly contained asbestos, but this is being replaced by less efficient materials for environmental reasons.
The principal types of friction brake are the block brake, the band brake, the internal-shoe brake, and the disk brake. The block brake consists of a block, the stationary part, that is shaped to fit the contour of a wheel or drum. For example, a wooden block applied to the rim of a wheel has long been used to slow or stop horse-drawn vehicles. A simple band brake consists of a metal band, the stationary part, that can be tightened around a drum by means of a lever. It is found on hoists and excavating machinery. The internal-shoe brake has a drum that contains two stationary semicircular pieces, or shoes, which slow or stop the motion of the drum by pressing against its inner surface. This is the type of brake most often found on automobiles, with an internal-shoe brake drum located on the central part of each wheel. A disk brake of the type used on automobiles has a metal disk and pistons with friction pads that can close on the disk and slow it.Electric Brakes
A machine that is driven by an electric motor can sometimes use its motor as a brake. Because inertia keeps the machine's shafts moving after the current to the electric motor has been shut off, the machine keeps the motor's armature turning. While this is happening, if the motor's action can be changed to that of a generator, the electric current produced will be drawing its energy from the machine, thus slowing it. However, since such a braking method is not suitable for bringing the machine to a quick stop, it is usually supplemented by friction brakes.
A manually operated brake pedal or handle is used to activate a brake. With low-power machinery or vehicles the operator can usually apply sufficient force through a simple mechanical linkage from the pedal or handle to the stationary part of the brake. In many cases, however, this force must be multiplied by using an elaborate braking system.The Air Brake System
An early system for multiplying the braking force, called the air brake system, or air brake, was invented by American manufacturer George Westinghouse and was first used on passenger trains in 1868. It is now widely used on railroad trains. The fundamental principle involved is the use of compressed air acting through a piston in a cylinder to set block brakes on the wheels. The action is simultaneous on the wheels of all the cars in the train. The compressed air is carried through a strong hose from car to car with couplings between cars; its release to all the separate block brake units, at the same time, is controlled by the engineer. An automatic feature provides for the setting of all the block brakes in the event of damage to the brake hose, leakage, or damage to individual brake units. The air brake is used also on subway trains, trolley cars, buses, and trucks.The Hydraulic Brake System
The hydraulic brake system, or hydraulic brake, is used on almost all automobiles (see hydraulic machine). When the brake pedal of an automobile is depressed, a force is applied to a piston in a master cylinder. The piston forces hydraulic fluid through metal tubing into a cylinder in each wheel where the fluid's pressure moves two pistons that press the brake shoes against the drum.The Vacuum Brake System
The vacuum brake system, or vacuum brake, depends upon the use of a vacuum to force a piston in a cylinder to hold a brake shoe off a drum; when the vacuum is destroyed, the shoe is released and presses on the drum. In an automotive power brake system, extra pressure can be exerted on the hydraulic master cylinder piston by a vacuum brake's piston.
A disc brake assembly. Wheel rotation is slowed by friction when the hydraulic pistons squeeze the elipsis
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Either of two kinds of braking systems. The first, used by trains, trucks, and buses, operates by a piston driven by compressed air from reservoirs connected to brake cylinders (see piston and cylinder). When air pressure in the brake pipe is reduced, air is automatically admitted into the brake cylinder. The first practical air brake for railroads was invented in the 1860s by George Westinghouse. The second type, used by aircraft and race cars, consists of a flap or surface that can be mechanically projected into the airstream to increase the resistance of the vehicle to air and lower its speed.
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A brake is a device for slowing or stopping the motion of a machine or vehicle, or alternatively a device to restrain it from starting to move again. The kinetic energy lost by the moving part is usually translated to heat by friction. Alternatively, in regenerative braking, much of the energy is recovered and stored in a flywheel, capacitor or turned into alternating current by an alternator, then rectified and stored in a battery for later use.
Note that kinetic energy increases with the square of the velocity (E = 1/2·m·v2 relationship). This means that if the speed of a vehicle doubles, it has four times as much energy. The brakes must therefore dissipate four times as much energy to stop it and consequently the braking distance is four times as long.
Brakes of some description are fitted to most wheeled vehicles, including automobiles of all kinds, trucks, trains, motorcycles, and bicycles. Baggage carts and shopping carts may have them for use on a moving ramp.
Some aeroplanes are fitted with wheel brakes on the undercarriage. Some aircraft also feature air brakes designed to slow them down in flight. Notable examples include gliders and some WWII-era fighter aircraft. These allow the aircraft to maintain a safe speed in a steep descent. The Saab B 17 dive bomber used the deployed undercarriage as an air brake.
The action of braking for motor vehicles produces recognizable sound level emissions, varying with the specific tire types and with the roadway surface type produces considerable effect upon sound levels or noise pollution emanating from moving vehicles. There is a considerable range in acoustical intensities produced depending upon the specific tire tread design and the rapidity of deceleration required to slow the vehicle.regenerative braking) converts kinetic energy into heat energy, it wastes energy that was used earlier to gather speed. Additionally, regenerative braking is not 100% efficient at recovering energy. Some drivers use various techniques to minimize braking to save fuel (see hypermiling).