When Max Mosley announced at the British Grand Prix in that he wanted F1 cars to develop regenerative braking systems he must have hoped he was talking to the right people to achieve his aim. As luck would have it, sitting in the stands listening to his comments was Jon Hilton, who now runs just the type of small, high-technology company Mosley hoped would develop the systems for Formula 1. And all this has happened in less than 18 months since that revelation at Silverstone. The team was working toward the engine freeze in F1 and they knew there would be less work for the engine team once homologation was confirmed, so Hilton though he should take a look at energy recovery. Together with his design manager Doug Cross they started looking at every conceivable solution. It took about 15 minutes to work out it was hopeless but we looked at everything.
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By Guest author 6 May Font size Email Print. Cutaway showing Flybrid's encasement unit and flywheel. Both are years when seismic changes will be made to fuel consumption demands and CO2 levels, with almost certainly only being achievable with some form of hybridisation of the internal combustion engine whether it's petrol or diesel. Vehicles waste energy under braking, so if you can recover that you reap benefits for improved efficiency and flywheel technology can help with acceleration or maintain speed under normal driving.
Under braking, kinetic energy - which would otherwise be lost as heat - is transferred from the wheels to the KERS, and is used to spin a 6kg carbon fibre flywheel at up to 60, rpm. When the car starts moving off again, energy stored in the spinning flywheel is transferred back to the rear wheels via a two-stage Torotrak toroidal transmission, to either boost power or reduce engine load.
The combustion engine that drives the front wheels is switched off as soon as braking begins. The energy in the flywheel can then be used to accelerate the vehicle when it is time to move off again or to power the vehicle once it reaches cruising speed. Essentially the packaging is carried over from Volvo's plug-in hybrid although some of the componentry is visible in the boot; future platforms will be package protected for both plug-in and KERS installations.
Moreover, KERS is inherently more efficient than battery storage systems, it is claimed. The whole process then has to be reversed to release the energy. According to Hilton, developing that so the KERS and petrol engine blended seamlessly was a major challenge although it was made easier by Volvo's experience from its own hybrid systems.
The high level management is not straightforward as it's a lot to do with strategy. On the braking side you simply capture everything you can because there is a very short window to harvest the energy and if that isn't done, then it can't be used.
The flywheel can also be charged from the engine and with the engine off fully-charged KERS will power the car for about half a mile at a time. The challenge now is to get a Tier 1 supplier sufficiently interested in the system to put it into production which is easier said than done. Manufacturing the flywheel is a highly precise process, so much so that Flybrid - now part of the Torotrak group - has invested GBP2m at its Leyland facility to produce flywheels.
With some funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain initiative, Hilton predicts Flybrid will be producing about 3, flywheels a year by The balance is critical, and our machine is ten times better than anything else available and is capable of balancing to true centre of gravity within 0. A brief drive of the prototype was enough to convince that KERS could be a key to downsizing future engines.
It would be perfectly feasible to have a 30kW engine augmented by an 80 or kW KERS in a family-sized saloon that would meet future emission levels with acceptable performance and greatly improved fuel efficiency.
UK: Torotrak finalises Flybrid Automotive acquisition. S: If you liked this article, you might enjoy the just-auto newsletter. Receive our latest content delivered right to your inbox.
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Flywheel hybrid systems (KERS)
Torotrak was delighted to have won it. With its roots in Formula 1 motor racing technology, it is a genuinely affordable mechanical alternative to going down the more-expensive diesel-electric hybrid route. At the heart of Flybrid is a 60,rpm flywheel that weighs a modest 8. When the bus slows down the Flybrid system captures kinetic energy, which is transferred to the flywheel and released when the driver accelerates again.
Flywheel Hybrid System
A kinetic energy recovery system KERS is an automotive system for recovering a moving vehicle 's kinetic energy under braking. The recovered energy is stored in a reservoir for example a flywheel or high voltage batteries for later use under acceleration. Xtrac and Flybrid are both licensees of Torotrak's technologies, which employ a small and sophisticated ancillary gearbox incorporating a continuously variable transmission CVT. However, the whole mechanism including the flywheel sits entirely in the vehicle's hub looking like a drum brake. The first of these systems to be revealed was the Flybrid.