Researchers at Newcastle University are to design an electromagnetic flywheel for a major car maker to use in a prototype vehicle scheduled to start running tests by autumn 1998.
Used alongside a conventional petrol engine in a hybrid power set-up, the flywheel can pick up speeds of up to 50,000rpm using energy released on braking. It will then recycle the stored energy into electric motors to boost accelerative power.
BMW, Renault and Fiat are working on a separate flywheel design study with Sheffield University in a European Union funded project. The car maker linked with the Newcastle design has not been named.
Paul Acarnley, professor of electric drives leading the Newcastle research team, believes it will take another three months to finish its design study and a further six months to adapt it to the car maker’s specification.
The Newcastle flywheel is made of high strength steel and the Sheffield one from carbon fibre.