• May 1, 2009
McLaren MP4-24 - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Of the ten teams competing in this year's Formula 1 championship, McLaren-Mercedes is the only one that's equipped both of its cars with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) for every single race of the season. Whether the 60 kW power boost has helped or not is open to debate, but it's at least been active on both Lewis Hamilton's and Heikki Kovalainen's MP4-24 racers.

According to Autocar, McLaren-Mercedes' Formula 1 engineers developed and demonstrated two KERS systems, one mechanical unit using a flywheel to store power and one electric system using batteries or capacitors. An unnamed source within M-B's engineering department has reportedly said that neither KERS implementation is relevant for road cars at the moment.

Regardless of its lack of relevancy to Mercedes' road-going machinery, Anthony Sheriff, managing director at McLaren, says, "What's important is that it's pushing the envelope of battery technology to its limits and that has got to be good news."



[Source: Autocar]


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  • 19 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      He's got that right. KERS is a very complex system with very little benefit at the moment. Maybe further development will change that later, but for now Prius/Ford/GM/Mercedes 2-mode hybrid systems make far more sense for the road.

      To be honest, KERS is a huge boondoggle. It's just an excuse to have push-to-pass while not making it look like they are copying Champ car and simultaneously greenwashing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, according to Luca Marmoni (Toyota's ex engine chief), KERS is primative compared to the system in the prius, much less the ultra-capacitor system in the Supra HR-V.
        • 5 Years Ago
        KERS is an excellent addition to any two-mode hybrid, EV, or whatever other electric-driven car: Brake-energy recover is, in fact, already part of the Prius (and perhaps others), if I'm not mistaken.
      • 5 Years Ago
      BMW already has a system like this nearing production, I believe, for road cars. It's part of their Efficient Dynamics system.

      http://www.worldcarfans.com/2030818.002/bmw-efficient-dynamics-makes-more-power

      (Don't let Mercedes know...)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why do you get all excited about BMW showing future designs? The drivetrain layout you show has been shipped by Toyota and GM (2-mode) for years. That picture could also describe Honda's system (the first hybrid system to ship).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Woah, only 10 teams in F1? WTF kind of racing series is that? 10 teams, 17 races, is F1 not doing so well?
      • 5 Years Ago
      If I put KERS on my Touareg, do I need a super diffuser as well?

      In all seriousness though, I simply applaud F1 (as well as the US & Euro Le Mans series) for still allowing a good bit of room for engineering & technology development. The greatest innovations in cars have mostly all come from racing and we need to continue this trend for the cars of the future.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So for the moment KERS isn't useable in road cars, who is to say what future developments (maybe combined with systems like the ones being used in cars like the Prius or BMW) will bring? That is why i like F1 to be without restrictions. It may seem to be totaly useless, but once in a while something interesting comes out.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota's engineers made this clear about year and a half ago.......
      Why surprised guys?
      • 5 Years Ago
      That could be the case. Think about it; in an F1 car, you have some massive energy being shed very quickly, many times during a race. Street cars generally do not go at such speeds and brake as hard as F1 cars consistently do. As such, the energy recovered will probably be much less than in an F1 implementation.

      Regular regenerative braking still makes sense, even if we start using flywheels instead of a battery. What we need are viable, cheap, and mass produced supercapacitors, though - that will really revolutionize energy use in this country.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hard braking is the enemy of energy recovery. If you have a system that can only output 60HP, it also can take energy in no more rapidly than 60HP. So slow braking captures a lot more energy than F1's 150-0 in 150 feet stuff.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A) BMW themselves said it's a supercapacitator system, and Racecar Engineering articles also mentioned that.

        B) Yes, the regulations for 2010 allow for a brake-pressure adjustment valve that connects with the ECU, and adjusts itself to compensate for KERS braking-force.

        C) The shorter the process, the lower the losses due to aerodynamic drag and internal friction. This is no hypermiling contest, this is the quest to get whatever power you're limited to get, as quickly as possible - in half a second, for example.

        D) "McLaren are perhaps foolish" - for being a team with a system that is not only the lightest, but probably the only ones with an obvious benefit thanks to said lightness of the system?

        E) They WOULD want to set the KERS' intake as high as reliably possible, so as to reduce the time it takes them to charge it and have it ready as early as a single corner after it's deployment. It's obviously not the primary system, and teams are already braking at the very limit anyway - this is a track. Nobody will slowly coast to a stop, nor lift. With F1's on-the-limit driving, you're ALWAYS either on the brakes or on the throttle - and always accelerating or decelerating as fast as possible.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Think again, LS. BMW Sauber are using supercapacitators.

        And short physics lesson: While braking slow and smooth may be a good hypermiling technique and all that, that's just because of the way current hybrids are set up to regenerate power.
        First of all, a change from Velocity A to Velocity B, energy-wise, is exactly the same regardless of the time it takes to accelerate (or decelerate) to that speed.
        Second, energy-regeneration can only be as effective as the system's maximum intake. You stated they can only intake 60HP - but that's wrong. Just because it's limited to ~80HP (60kW) output, doesn't mean it can't recover more. In fact, Mercedes stated in a televised interview that it takes them just half a second worth of hard braking to recover their 400kJ. That's 12 times shorter than the time they're allowed to use that energy.A system that can only, say, handle 50kW of braking, will obviously be most effective (store the most energy) when braking with power equivalent to 50kW. A system that can intake over 1000kW (which is an understatement of the power of modern F1 braking-systems) would be most efficient at that speed. However, on a track, you're looking to brake as fast as possible, and screw efficiency - so you'll up the maximum intake, as McLaren did. In an ideal system, they could even recover these 400kJ in as little as 0.2s, but that's in an ideal world.

        Also,

        You're welcome to read a transcript I helped translate from German:
        http://www.f1technical.net/news/12299?sid=86148eb476fbf4c9ea7bb454ea25f39e
        • 5 Years Ago
        KERS utilizes super capacitors, which can charge very quickly; much more quickly than the conventional batteries used in regular regenerative braking systems.
        • 5 Years Ago
        KERS is not a regenerative braking system in the "green" sense of the word. It's a bone headed way to give drivers an push to pass button which could just as easily be done by giving them a button that gives then an extra 4000 revs for 10 seconds per lap. It's benefit is almost completely negated by it's extra weight penalty combined with the negative effect it has on braking feel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No process is more efficient at higher speeds.

        Power lost in an electrical system is directly proportional to currents. Double the currents and double the power is lost. As you mention, perhaps they make so much power they don't care, but that doesn't mean it's more efficient.

        Mercedes are perhaps foolish to make a system that can recapture energy so quickly. It's less efficient, and IIRC they are not allowed to use the system more than once a lap anyway.

        No team on the track uses KERS as their primary braking system, so your statement about they would up the intake to brake as fast as possible makes no sense. If they want to brake faster, they apply more friction braking. You have to use a lot of friction braking anyway, because KERS is only rear braking, it cannot be apportioned (with a brake balance setting) front and rear. So if you try to apply a lot of KERS braking you will lock the rears. The fronts do most of the braking in any car.

        There is no solid info on the net showing BMW Sauber uses supercapacitors. Although it could as easily be said that there is not evidence that it does not. These teams are very secretive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see KERS being useful when accelerating from a stop. Tie the system directly to the accelerator (as opposed to a push button) and have the KERS system assist the engine in take off from a stop.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's pretty much what a Prius does now. That's pretty much all a Prius does.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It matters if you live your life a quarter mile at a time.
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