Most of the F1 fans will be aware of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) technology that was developed by Williams Hybrid Power, a division of the company that owns, you guessed it, Williams Formula 1 team. This technology works by recovering kinetic energy from the vehicle while it is braking and then stores the recovered energy for later use during acceleration to provide boost. Why are we talking about this technology? Because this energy is all set to be imparted to city buses to make them more efficient.
Back in April, the technology was sold by Williams to GKN, a British aerospace and automotive conglomerate. Now a team comprising of 55 personals is working on commercializing the system with the original team from Williams on-board as well. This technology will be used for city buses and is capable of improving the bus efficiency by 20%. The approach makes sense since because buses are braking to stop at bus stops all the time.
The KERS system collects the heat that is generated while braking takes place and stores this energy as electrical energy in a battery. GKN has made some changes and has opted for a carbon fiber fly-wheel to collect the energy as momentum. The wheel is placed inside a vacuum and is capable of spinning at speeds of up to 3600 rpm. As soon as driver hits the pedal, about 120kW of additional energy is provided to the traction motor.
GKN in collaboration with the Go-Ahead Group – public transit provider in UK – and began testing on buses last year. The system imparts some jerks to the braking and accelerating part but most of the drivers were happy with the enhanced acceleration. The trials, as expected, were a success and now the system will be installed in more than 500 buses in London and Oxford. The system is about the size of a car wheel and therefore, can be incorporated into the existing buses without much modification. According to the calculations; the technology will help get the companies gain their money back in 3 years!