Flybrid KERS

With the acquisition of Flybrid Automotive on 9th January 2014, we are delighted to add Flybrid’s award-winning flywheel hybrid system (or KERS) to the Group’s technology portfolio. The core Flybrid technology relates to design, development, manufacture and control of high-speed flywheels for use in moving vehicles.

KERS is a new breed of pragmatic hybrid that recovers energy that is normally dissipated as heat during braking events in a smarter and more environmentally sound way. Comprising Flybrid’s high-speed mechanical flywheel with either Torotrak’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a Flybrid-developed advanced clutched transmission (CFT), KERS is an accessible, compact and power-dense alternative to electric hybrid technologies.

Originally developed for Formula 1 applications, the system is also suitable for commercial vehicles, particularly urban delivery trucks and buses that need to stop and start repeatedly, and passenger cars. Data released by Volvo in 2013 show that a Volvo S60 fitted with KERS demonstrated the potential to achieve fuel savings of up to 25 per cent.

Other industry partners that we are working with include, Jaguar Land Rover, Wrightbus, Arriva, The Proving Factory and several non-public clients.

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Technology Background

Recovering the energy that would otherwise be lost when a vehicle brakes is an extremely effective way to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, however the incumbent battery-electric and supercapacitor based technologies remain impracticable without subsidisation and grants. Furthermore, concerns are growing about the environmental impact of widespread battery manufacture and end-of-life disposal.

Mechanical and compact, Flybrid KERS meets the demand for a cost effective, environmentally robust and fit for life system.

Flywheel technology itself is not new; flywheel energy storage has been used in hybrid vehicles such as buses, trams and prototype cars before, but the installation tended to be heavy and the gyroscopic forces of the flywheel were significant. Flybrid KERS overcomes these limitations with a compact and relatively lightweight carbon and steel flywheel. Originally developed to boost performance for Formula 1 vehicles, KERS is an affordable and practical alternative to electric hybrid technologies for cars and commercial vehicles.

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How Flybrid Technology Delivers

KERS captures and stores energy that is otherwise lost during vehicle deceleration events. As the vehicle slows, kinetic energy is recovered through the KERS continuously variable transmission (CVT) or clutched transmission (CFT) and stored by accelerating a flywheel. As the vehicle gathers speed, energy is released from the flywheel, via the CVT or CFT, back into the driveline. Using this stored energy to reaccelerate the vehicle in place of energy from the engine reduces engine fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The most significant reductions in fuel consumption can be achieved in vehicles that are the subject of repeated ‘stop-start’ cycles. Alternative KERS usage options include using the stored energy to augment engine power, to enhance vehicle performance.

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KERS Features

  • High System and “Round-Trip” Efficiency – as a purely mechanical system, KERS avoids the inevitable losses that occur when battery-based systems change energy from one form to another (i.e. mechanical to AC, to DC, to chemical), making more energy available for release straight back to the driveline
  • High Power Density – KERS is a small system package that is incorporated easily into both cars and commercial vehicles
  • Low Weight – Flybrid KERS is typically around 1/3 the weight of a competing battery based electrical hybrid system, with a road car system weighing only around 60kg
  • Long System Life – even at high depths of discharge, over a wide temperature range and on severe stop start duty cycles
  • Variable or Clutched Transmission – KERS is available with either Torotrak’s unique variable transmission (CVT) or Flybrid’s own patented clutched transmission (CFT), each with their own particular advantages, offering customers greater choice

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KERS Benefits

  • Reduced CO2 Emissions/Pollutants – by recovering and re-using  energy, KERS reduces fuel usage, saves money, and lowers the quantity of CO2 and pollutants emitted by the vehicle
  • Low Cost and Practical – typically around 1/3 the cost of an equivalent power electric system, KERS can also be integrated into existing vehicle architectures and fitted line side by OEMs; it can even be retrofitted to existing vehicles already in service
  • Significantly Shorter Payback Period - an equivalent electric system fitted to a bus typically requires the entire vehicle life span (or even more) in order to pay back, while KERS can provide a return on investment in under 5 years
  • Environmentally Sound – KERS is readily recycled and has a low embedded CO2 content, with no rare earth metals or highly processed battery acids as often found in HEVs
  • Enhanced Performance – KERS can enhance vehicle performance for short periods of time with no increase in fuel consumption, and can also deliver handling benefits such as part-time all wheel drive
  • Ease and Safety of Manufacture – all of the components and materials are commonly available, safe and easy to work with, and easily recyclable; they require no special training or garage equipment

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Flybrid passenger car KERS

 

 

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Flybrid KERS composite flywheel

 

 

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Flybrid CFT (Clutched Flywheel Transmission)

 

 

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Flybrid Volvo testing at Silverstone