|The Ricardo Kinergy high-speed, hermetically-sealed flywheel energy storage system. Click to enlarge.|
Building on its experience in the research and development of advanced energy management concepts—including the engineering of kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) for motorsport—Ricardo has devised Kinergy, a high-speed, hermetically-sealed flywheel energy storage system concept with an innovative and patented magnetic gearing and coupling mechanism.
The high power density and long-life potential of Kinergy technology combines both simplicity and effectiveness, avoiding the need for vacuum pumps and seals typically associated with high-speed carbon fibre based flywheel systems., Ricardo says. The lack of any mechanical coupling or other form of linkage through the system’s casing enables Kinergy to offer a robust, compact and lightweight package suitable both for incorporation into new product designs as well as retrofit applications aimed at improving the efficiency of existing vehicle fleets and industrial equipment.
Kinergy has the potential for use in a range of applications due to its comparatively very low projected production costs. Ricardo says that the technology is thus ideally suited for use in road vehicles where regenerative braking and torque assist is employed as a means of improving efficiency and hence reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Such potential applications range from small, price-sensitive mass-market passenger cars to large luxury SUVs, buses and trucks.
Across all of these vehicle categories, Kinergy offers the prospect of enabling effective hybridization extending into market sectors where the use of conventional electro-chemical battery systems technology would be prohibitively expensive. Further potential Kinergy applications also include low-cost, compact energy management and storage systems for use in industrial and construction equipment, elevators, railway rolling stock, and local electrical substations and power distribution systems.
|Cutaway of the FLYBUS with Kinergy system. Click to enlarge.|
FLYBUS. The £1-million (US$1.7-million) FLYBUS project involves the development of a Ricardo Kinergy flywheel energy storage device incorporating a Torotrak patented Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for installation in a demonstrator vehicle based on an Optare Solo bus. Allison Transmission Inc. will also be involved, supporting the project with hardware and integration expertise.
Both technologies have already undergone development as part of a flywheel-based mechanical hybrid KERS which has been designed for use in motorsport. The mechanical hybrid system will offer the commercial vehicle sector a low-cost opportunity to deliver fuel efficiency savings of 20%. With further optimization, Torotrak believes that there are possibilities to significantly improve this.
The demonstration project will focus initially on installing an existing Torotrak CVT and Ricardo supplied flywheel in the Optare Solo bus, connecting the mechanical hybrid system directly to the Allison automatic transmission already fitted to the vehicle as standard equipment. The majority of the application, integration, development and test work will be undertaken by Torotrak in partnership with Ricardo, while Optare and Allison—providing, respectively, the test vehicle and an Allison 2000 Series transmission hardware together with control integration support—will also offer their series manufacturing expertise.
The Technology Strategy Board is to provide £0.5 million (US$0.83 million) for the FLYBUS research program as part of its Low Carbon Vehicles initiative, with the consortium partners jointly matching this investment. The aim is to demonstrate a flywheel-based mechanical hybrid system in an Optare Eco Drive Solo bus and to confirm the benefits of mechanical hybrid systems, effectively KERS-based technology, for fitment as original equipment in new commercial vehicles and also as a retrofit system for updating existing vehicles. The consortium plans to demonstrate the new low emissions, high fuel efficiency vehicle to bus companies, fleet operators and regulatory bodies both in the UK and beyond.
KinerStor. The KinerStor project will be led by Ricardo and will comprise a consortium of industrial partners including CTG, JCB, Land Rover, SKF, Torotrak and Williams Hybrid Power. The project aims to demonstrate the potential of flywheel-based hybrid systems with the potential for 30% fuel savings (and equivalent reductions in CO2 emissions) at an on-cost of less than £1,000 (US$1,660), thus enabling the mass-market uptake of hybrid vehicles in price-sensitive vehicle applications.
The project will research and de-risk the principle critical flywheel sub-systems individually, then bring them together for system optimization in two forms of proprietary device; a mechanical/magnetic coupled flywheel system developed by Ricardo (the Kinergy system), and an electrically coupled unit developed by Williams Hybrid Power. The KinerStor project team aims to design, build and test a number of prototype units such that on completion, the developed technologies are ready for vehicle-based installation, testing and demonstration.
The KinerStor consortium brings together relevant skills and expertise in specialist areas, including: advanced flywheel systems, focusing on new material technologies including low-cost composite fibres and specialist steels; continuously variable transmissions; bearing and coupling design; drivetrain integration; and volume vehicle manufacturing. The project’s structure will allow for the development of common core-technology solutions which can be tailored to the individual needs of vehicle manufacturers, maximizing potential fuel saving and CO2 emission reduction benefits.
The KinerStor project is supported by an investment from the UK Government-backed Technology Strategy Board with balancing resources provided by the project partners.