Students from Cranfield University have developed a range of innovative kinetic-energy recovery systems (KERSs) as part of the design element of their MSc Motorsport Engineering and Management course.
KERSs have been a new feature of the current Formula 1 (F1) racing season following the introduction of regulations to reduce fuel consumption and increase race performance. The technology works by storing energy that would otherwise be lost during braking and converting it into power.
Working alongside Williams Hybrid Power, the students designed and modelled a KERS for testing in a Le Mans Prototype (LMP) car. Factors considered included current regulations, installation of the device, technical issues, servicing, costs and competitive advantage.
The winning team for best technical presentation, called Green Lighting, demonstrated a KERS that used a double-layer capacitor design. Cranfield Hybrid Power won the MSA presentation award for its flywheel system, which, although it did not adhere to current regulations, demonstrated the future potential of KERS in racing.
Ian Foley, managing director of Williams Hybrid Power, said: ‘The quality of the projects was excellent and some of the suggestions have certainly given me food for thought. My congratulations go to everyone for their hard work over the course of these projects. The results have exceeded my expectations.’
Robert Jones, general secretary of the Motor Sports Association (MSA), added: ‘It is a privilege to come and see the presentations at Cranfield and the presentations reflect the very high standard that Cranfield sets. Motorsport is one of our greatest industries in the UK and it will remain so, but only if education is there to support it.’
Only four F1 teams – Ferrari, Renault, McLaren and BMW – ran KERSs at the opening Australian Grand Prix. However, the technology is set to be adopted by a number of other teams, which are currently developing the system in line with new regulations.