Driving force teams up

Flybrid Systems, Torotrak and Xtrac won this year’s Teamwork Award at the Motorsport Industry Association annual awards for their joint work on increasing energy efficiency in motorsport


Flybrid Systems, Torotrak and Xtrac won this year’s Teamwork Award at the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) annual awards for their joint work on increasing energy efficiency in motorsport.



The companies received the award for their close working relationship in the development of a groundbreaking mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) for motorsport application.



The three businesses combined complementary technical capabilities to provide the new mechanical KERS innovation following the decision by the FIA to permit energy recovery in F1 from the 2009 season.



Berkshire-based Xtrac has a license from Lancashire’s Torotrak to design and manufacture a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This incorporates Torotrak’s traction drive technology, which matches the speed between a flywheel and vehicle drivetrain. Flybrid completes the KERS assembly at its facility in Silverstone, Northamptonshire, with the addition of electronic controls, mechanical flywheel and containment system. As the final system integrator, Flybrid also carries out the calibration, testing and installation of KERS for the customer.



The mechanical KERS system uses a flywheel to recover and store a moving vehicle’s kinetic energy, which is otherwise wasted when the vehicle is decelerated. The energy is received from the driveline through the CVT as the vehicle decelerates, and is subsequently released back into the driveline, again through the CVT, as the vehicle accelerates. The FIA has defined the amount of energy recovery for 2009 season as 400kJ per lap giving the driver an extra 80hp over a period of approximately seven seconds.



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.



Applied to road cars the system supports the industry trend for smaller powertrains and hybrid vehicles. Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac believe that compared to the alternative of battery systems, a mechanical flywheel-based KERS system can provide a more compact, lighter and environmentally-friendly solution.