Formula One enthusiasts were treated to the inner workings of a KERS flywheel this week at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham. Forumula1.com’s Simon Stiel was on hand to take notes.
Although the majority of the teams have opted to store and reuse energy using a battery unit, FIA President Max Mosley is eager to move away from chemical-based storage.
Flybrid, who are supplying at least one Formula One team next year, were on hand to demonstrate the Flywheel.
Flybrid’s system works not as a battery powered device but as a flywheel connected to a epicylclic gearbox and to CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Figures show that it weighs 24 kg and is capable of generating 80 horsepower and can reach maximum rpm of 64,500.
Flybrid’s Managing Partner Jon Hilton addressed the safety concerns by saying that the flywheel had been subject to tests to more than 20 G and had survived. “One of our challenges is we know how people operate racing cars; they are going to have accidents,” he said.
“They’re going to have small accidents which they would normally consider inconsequential where they’ll bring the car back to the pits and replace the front suspension and the wing and send the car back out. We now know our system is completely safe if you do that and it’s something we had to find out.”
The cheapness of the system was also illustrated: “In road cars, where we’ve got accurate costs we’re about a quarter of the cost of an electric hybrid system.”
Hilton expressed his scepticism at Mosley’s view that KERS will improve overtaking. “I don’t think it will enable two like speed cars to pass each other if you like,” he said.
“But I think it will enable a faster car catching up a slower car to store some of its excess performance and then have it all back on one straight if you like. In that situation, I think you’ll see a car with a KERS button pressed passing one that doesn’t have it pressed.”
Flybrid have two versions of the system. One has the system mounted behind the engine on top of the gearbox and the other has it mounted on the nose of the crankshaft. Hilton said, “Two different clients are looking at two different solutions.”