The mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) currently under development for Formula 1 by three British companies—Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac (earlier post)—has been voted ‘Engine Innovation of the Year’ by a panel of motorsport experts.
The honor for the technical achievement was presented at the Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards ceremony held this week in Cologne.
The flywheel-based system offers up to twice the efficiency of current generation hybrid electric vehicles in the storage of recovered vehicle kinetic energy.
The flywheel kinetic energy recovery system employs a small ancillary transmission manufactured by Xtrac incorporating full toroidal traction drive technology licensed from Torotrak. Torotrak’s patented technology is a vital element in a mechanical system as it provides a continuously variable connection (a CVT ‘variator’) between the flywheel and the vehicle driveline and is being developed for motorsport applications by Xtrac, who can design, manufacture, assemble and distribute complete variator systems and discrete components.
Xtrac can sub-license the Torotrak ‘variator’ technology to Flybrid and other motorsport teams who may wish to design and develop their own mechanical system.
With a major racing team already signed up to use the mechanical KERS system for the F1 application in the 2009 season, the combination of the variator and advanced lightweight flywheel will most likely form part of the driveline assembly. The energy is received from the driveline through the variator as the vehicle decelerates and is subsequently released back into the driveline, again through the variator, as the vehicle accelerates.
The FIA has defined the amount of energy recovery for the 2009 season as 400kJ per lap giving the driver an extra 80bhp over a period of 6.67 seconds. Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac believe that compared to the alternative of battery systems, a mechanical KERS system can provide a more compact, lighter and environmentally-friendly solution.
The Professional MotorSport World Expo awards were judged by an international jury of 13 motorsport experts comprising Michael Andretti, CEO, Andretti Green Racing; Ulrich Baretzky, head of engine technology, Audi Sport; Ian Bickerton, team principal, Creation Autosportif; Jost Capito, director, Ford Team RS; Trevor Carlin, co-founder and managing director, Carlin Motorsport; Tim Edwards, team principal, Ford Performance Racing; Jonas Jarlmark, chief engineer, Flash Engineering; Armin Schwarz, team principal, All-German Motorsports; Marc Van Dalen, team principal, Kronos Racing; Roland Schedel, editor-in-chief, Auto Technology; David Tremayne freelance motorsport writer; Kim Wolfkill, publisher, MSN Autos; and Graham Heeps editor Professional Motorsport World magazine.