Ferrari is known for hyper-exotic supercars, speed and big price tags. There is a reason, though, that we didn't mention fuel efficiency. Hopped-up V8 and V12 engines don't exactly conjure up images of tree-hugging, and, for the most part, our Autoblog pals are more than okay with that.
The hybrid drive development unit of the Williams Formula One team has decided to stop working on its Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for the team. Instead, the Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) division will target the flywheel electric KERS at road going applications. In spite of ending the system's motorsports development, WHP has actually doubled the size of its staff as it has adjusted.
There have been many cases where racing technology has made its way down the ladder right into the cars that we use to drive to work. Flywheels could be the next such advancement. The pinnacle of racing motorsports, Formula 1, is investigating the possibility of using flywheels for energy storage. The idea is old, but recent advancements in low-mass high-strength materials may finally make flywheels a reality.
FIA President Max Mosely has sent a letter to Formula One teams outlining the plans for phasing in hybrid systems in the sport. Beginning in 2009, the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) will be integrated into the transmissions of F1 cars. The KERS is a mechanical system that captures kinetic energy during vehicle deceleration using a flywheel mechanism. Unlike production vehicle hybrids that convert kinetic energy to electrical energy and store it in a battery, the KERS is far more compact a
Do your remember the hybrid system that stores braking energy not as electricity but in a rotating flywheel as kinetic energy? Well, the system is going to be mated to a special CVT transmission able to change 6-to-1 ratio within one revolution. That is, in 50 ms, the transmission can go to almost zero to full power.
For the past several years the governing body of Formula One racing has been pondering rule changes that would, among other things, make the sport more environmentally friendly. One of the proposals that has popped up several times is using hybrid drivetrains. Transmission builders Torotrak and Xtrac have agreed to a license agreement that will let Xtrac build continuously variable transmissions based on Torotraks design for Formula One hybrid drive systems.
The AutoTram is a new streetcar concept from the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI in Dresden, Germany which combines the flexibility of bus transport, needing no rails or overhead power lines, with the passenger carrying capacity of trams. This makes the system between 30 and 50 percent cheaper than conventional railway systems.