Low cost KERS systemPosted July 11
The great thing about hybrid and electric car research and development is that ordinary cars can also benefit from some of the cheaper technology. Start stop systems are relatively inexpensive and are making their way into ordinary cars. Now Volvo are developing a low cost KERS system for use in everyday vehicles.
Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems originate from F1 cars where they were developed to make the sport greener. Manufacturers such as Porsche and Ferrari quickly saw the potential of such systems in their expensive hybrid sports cars but the expense of KERS currently prevents deployment into cheaper cars.
Volvo are researching modifications to the design to enable production of cheaper systems. To reduce costs their idea is to implement KERS only on the rear axle. Despite the installation of only one flywheel Volvo estimate that fuel savings could be up to 20%.
KERS systems work by transferring energy to a spinning flywheel under braking instead of converting it to electrical energy and storing it in a battery, which is how regenerative braking works on all of today's hybrids. The flywheel on the new Volvo system will be capable of spinning at speeds of up to 60,000 rpm, enabling up to 80 horsepower to be stored for a short time.
To manage such high speeds Volvo's flywheel will be made of carbon fibre, will measure 20cm, and operate in a vacuum. A special transmission is able to transfer the flywheel's rotational energy to the rear wheels. Unlike batteries, a flywheel can only store energy for a relatively short period of time but it's easily long enough to assist in urban stop start traffic.
Volvo begins testing its low cost KERS system this year and hope to be producing cars with the technology within a few years.
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