Research vehicle fitted with a flywheel hybrid system delivers up to 22.4% improved fuel economy

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 11, 2011

A research vehicle equipped with a flywheel hybrid system including stop-start has revealed fuel economy improvements of up to 22.4 percent based on the latest ARTEMIS test cycle, which represents today’s usual real-world usage.

The mechanically driven flywheel system is developed a group of British companies as part of the government-supported Flywheel Hybrid System for Premium Vehicles (FHSPV) program.

This system provides a maximum of 80bhp (82PS, 60kW) of recovered energy from a self-contained hybrid module. In the industry-standard NEDC cycle, the flywheel hybrid with stop-start achieved an improvement of 11.9 percent.

The group believes that mechanical hybrids provide solutions to the many challenges that relates to the electric hybrids. There is no inefficient conversion of energy from kinetic to electrical to chemical and vice versa. Moreover, the packaging, weight, recycling and cost issues related to the batteries are eliminated.

David Hemming, Prodrive’s head of vehicle engineering, has confirmed that the research reveals the potential of mechanical hybrids as a cheap alternative to battery hybrids. He further stated that both the driveability and the fuel economy results are impressive, even with early-stage calibrations and no other design optimization.

The research vehicle recovers energy through the rear differential with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) into a high-speed flywheel. When the driver applies the accelerator again, the CVT smoothly brings the energy back to the wheels.

The flywheel and its drive system are fitted near the rear axle, in an area where the spare wheel normally is found. The entire system weighs 80 kg. Minimal packaging and body changes were needed to incorporate the system.

The driveline configuration was not changed. The flywheel, designed by Flybrid Systems, is built from carbon composite. It operates in a partial vacuum, letting it spin at a maximum of 60,000rpm. Controlling the speed of the flywheel as well as the flow of energy in each direction, the CVT has been developed by precision-engineering firm Xtrac utilizing proven traction drive technology from Torotrak.

Press Release

FLYWHEEL HYBRID VEHICLE DELIVERS UP TO 22.4% FUEL ECONOMY IMPROVEMENT

Improvements in fuel economy of up to 22.4 percent (in the new ARTEMIS test cycle, which represents typical real-world usage today) have been demonstrated by a research vehicle fitted with a flywheel hybrid system including stop-start. Developed by a consortium of British companies as part of the Government-supported Flywheel Hybrid System for Premium Vehicles (FHSPV) programme, the mechanically-driven flywheel system delivers up to 80bhp (82PS, 60kW) of recovered energy from a self-contained hybrid module.

In the industry-standard NEDC cycle, the flywheel hybrid including stop-start achieved an 11.9 percent improvement.

The consortium believes that mechanical hybrids solve many of the challenges associated with electric hybrids. There is no inefficient conversion of energy from kinetic to electrical to chemical and back. And the cost, weight, packaging and recycling issues associated with batteries are also eliminated.

“The research shows the potential of mechanical hybrids as an affordable alternative to battery hybrids,” confirms Prodrive’s head of vehicle engineering, David Hemming. “Both the fuel economy results and the driveability are impressive, even with early-stage calibrations and no other design optimisation.”

The FHSPV engineering development vehicle recovers energy via the rear differential through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) into a high-speed flywheel. When the driver reapplies the accelerator, the CVT smoothly transfers the energy back to the wheels. The flywheel and its drive system are installed adjacent to the rear axle, in the space normally occupied by the spare wheel and the whole system weighs 80 kg. Minimal body and packaging changes were required to integrate the system. There is no change to the driveline configuration.

Designed by Flybrid Systems, the flywheel is constructed from carbon composite and operates in a partial vacuum, allowing it to spin at up to 60,000rpm. The CVT, which manages the flywheel’s speed and the flow of energy in each direction, has been built by precision-engineering firm Xtrac using proven traction drive technology from Torotrak.

Automotive technology specialist Prodrive is responsible for the system’s configuration and integration into the vehicle. Prodrive also developed the system’s complex control strategy and software including preliminary calibrations. Ricardo and Ford provided specialist expertise around alternative technologies and applications.

“There is growing support for flywheel hybrid systems across the industry, fundamentally driven by affordability,” said Torotrak CEO Dick Elsy. “From Torotrak's work in this market, the directional costs of the system look to be less than half of the cost of equivalent battery/electric hybrids. A mechanical hybrid with stop/start, at a transaction price that makes sense, has significant potential for widespread application in the drive to reduce CO2.”

Topics: hybrid

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