Volvo developing Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS)

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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Automotive manufacturers are quite often engrossed in developing new, innovative technologies in order to improve their products and customer appeal. Volvo is no different and the Swedish automaker is currently working on a new technological innovation that can make a four-cylinder engine "feel" like a six-cylinder and can even reduce fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent.

What is this incredible new innovation? Kinetic energy recovery of course! Specifically, kinetic energy recovery from a vehicle's brake system. The Swedish Energy Agency has given Volvo 6.57 million Swedish kronor in order to develop kinetic energy recovery technology in a partnership with Volvo Powertrain and Swedish bearing company SKF.

"Our aim is to develop a complete system for kinetic energy recovery," said Vice President of Volvo Car Corporation (VCC) Powertrain Engineering, Derek Crabb. "Tests in a Volvo car will get under way in the second half of 2011. This technology has the potential for reducing fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. What is more, it gives the driver an extra horsepower boost, giving a four-cylinder engine acceleration like a six-cylinder unit."

The system is called Flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and makes use of a flywheel that will be attached to a vehicle's rear axle. In a vehicle equipped with Flywheel KERS the energy created while braking will cause the flywheel to spin at up to 60,000 rpm. The energy of the flywheel spinning at 60,000 rpm will then aid the vehicle in accelerating as the flywheel's rotational energy is applied to the rear wheels through a specially designed transmission. Furthermore, Volvo says the engine that powers the front wheels will be turned off once the braking system is engaged.

"The flywheel's stored energy is sufficient to power the car for short periods," added Crabb. "However, this has a major impact on fuel consumption. Our calculations indicate that the combustion engine will be able to be turned off about half the time when driving according to the official New European Driving Cycle."

The flywheel will be made of carbon fibre and Volvo says it will weight approximately six kilograms with a diameter of 20 centimetres. The flywheel will spin in a vacuum in order to reduce friction. It's expected that the energy of the flywheel can add up to 80 horsepower to the vehicle's power output and will significantly reduce 0 to 100 km/h acceleration times.

"We are not the first manufacturer to test flywheel technology," continued Crabb. "But nobody else has applied it to the rear axle of a car fitted with a combustion engine driving the front wheels. If the tests and technical development go as planned, we expect cars with flywheel technology to reach the showrooms within a few years."
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Volvo, Kinetic energy recovery, KERS,

Organizations: Volvo

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