We all know how vocal FIA boss Max Mosley has been about bringing more real-world fuel efficiency to Formula One. Doing that, the theory holds, will allow F1 to regain the top of production-car technology development. In fact, the FIA has already defined the amount of energy recovery it will allow for the 2009 season, which is 400 kilojoules per lap, translating into an extra 80 hp over a period of 6.67 seconds. Now, several companies' worth of prop heads who've been futzing with brake regeneration for Formula One cars are getting an award for such a scheme. They call it the F1 Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) — the they in question being British companies Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac. It's a flywheel system that's more than twice as efficient as hybrid cars in storing energy. The award is Engine Innovation of the Year, and it'll be presented at the Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards ceremony held this week in Cologne, Germany. The system stores braking energy using the inertia of a flywheel as kinetic energy, by Flybrid, along with gearbox technology from transmission specialists Torotrak and Xtrac. Mechanical engineering geeks can get their equasional fix here.
F1 kinetic energy recovery system voted 'Engine Innovation of the Year'
A groundbreaking mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) currently under development for Formula 1 by three British companies - Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac - has been voted 'Engine Innovation of the Year' by a distinguished panel of motorsport experts. The honour for the technical achievement was presented at the Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards ceremony held this week in Cologne.
The award was well received by the 1,000 international motorsport professionals attending the awards presentation and gala dinner, who clearly appreciated the significance of new rules in motor racing stimulating a new technology highly relevant to the development of future road cars. The fast-acting flywheel system offers up to twice the efficiency of current generation hybrid electric vehicles in the storage of recovered vehicle kinetic energy.
Graham Heeps editor of Professional Motorsport World and one of the judges said: "Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac are on course to succeed where others have failed by delivering an efficient yet safe flywheel energy recovery system for applications on the racetrack and beyond."
Roland Schedel, editor-in-chief, Auto Technology, who also served on the awards panel, added: "Having had this interesting technology explained at the Global Motorsports Congress, I'm convinced that this system will appear in more motorsport events and road car series production and I congratulate these three companies on their success."
Jon Hilton, managing partner of Flybrid Systems, and Chris Brockbank, business development manager of Torotrak, stepped forward to receive the award on behalf of all three companies. Acknowledging their delight at winning the award and commenting on the companies' fast track achievement over the past 12 months Jon Hilton said:
"We're delighted to receive this award in recognition of our efforts this year, whereby we've already achieved a huge amount simply by turning an idea into reality. With the design, test and development of a system for F1 now well underway, our challenge for next year is to demonstrate the viability of the system for mainstream automotive applications."
Dick Elsy, chief executive of Torotrak, added: "Our three businesses have applied their combined knowledge and technical capabilities to deliver an innovative solution to the challenge presented to the industry by the FIA. The rate of technology development in this industry is tremendous. We are already looking at applications beyond F1 and into road cars."
"We're proud to receive this award and pleased we've been able to apply our transmission and materials expertise," said Martin Halley, chief engineer with Xtrac. "Xtrac has been involved in MIA energy efficient motorsport initiatives since as far back as 2001, when we first considered the pros and cons of kinetic energy recovery. Obviously, we have to work to the rules permitted within motorsport regulations; therefore we're pleased with the decision by the FIA to permit energy recovery in Formula 1 - particularly since it will provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate a new technology which could be extremely relevant to the wider automotive industry."
The role played by Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac in designing a KERS solution for F1 could be highly instrumental in developing this pioneering vehicle technology for more fuel efficient road cars, especially important at a time of spiralling fuel prices and tighter emission regulations, without resorting to the expense and complexity of battery systems. Compared with hybrid electric vehicles, which use batteries for energy storage, a mechanical KERS system utilises flywheel technology as a highly efficient alternative to recover and store a moving vehicle's kinetic energy.