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Volvo developing road-car KERS

2011-06-01 08:24

FLY IDEA: A Swedish Energy Agency grant to the value of R7m has been signed-off to Volvo for testing of its flywheel KERS system on public roads.

If you are a keen F1 follower, you’ll no doubt know the difference in performance a burst of power from a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) can make. Wouldn’t it be neat if this technology could be applied to road cars too?

Volvo (in partnership with SKF, the Swedish bearing technology giant) has announced its intention to recapture energy converted to heat during braking and thereby reduce average fuel consumption of its vehicles by as much as 20%, whilst boosting performance too, thanks to a very clever - and simple - KERS system.

In terms of configuration the Volvo’s KERS system is different to most theoretical applications of hybrid drive energy recovery technology as it functions on the rear axle, leaving the front wheels to be driven by the engine.

SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE...

How does it work?

Well, during urban driving (which features constant deceleration and brake application) the Volvo KERS system’s composite flywheel spins in a vacuum at speed of up to 60 000rpm, driven by braking input on the rear wheels. This stored energy is then released when the car accelerates again (adding 58kW of additional power); therefore requiring less input from the internal combustion engine for similar levels of performance and subsequently reducing fuel consumption.

A relatively simple system (as it operates independently, geared completely around the rear axle and its input drive shaft), Volvo’s KERS is thought to be a superior design to most torque-split all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain systems, which require the internal-combustion component to be shut-off and restarted to trim fuel consumption.

Derek Crabb, Vice Preident of Powertrain Engineering for Volvo Car Corporation says the brand’s flywheel system could become production viable within a few years, if tests and technical development are not curtailed by any significant difficulties.


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