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Volvo testing a prototype of the KERS system right now

Some exotic race cars have been using a KERS system to store and then release power back to the driver in certain instances as a sort of “boost” function. KERS technology is now starting to come to the street and Volvo has a working prototype using the tech.
However, Volvo isn't using the tech just to improve performance; it is using the tech to improve fuel efficiency. According to the automaker, KERS can reduce fuel consumption as much as 25 percent. In addition to improving fuel economy, Volvo says that the KERS tech can also reduce production costs compared to traditional hybrid systems.

Prototype Volvo S60 with Flybrid KERS system

Volvo has test fitted what it calls a “Flybrid” KERS to the rear axle of a S60 to assist the gas engine that drives the front wheels of the car. It captures kinetic energy typically lost from braking and sends it to the flyweel. 150 watt hours of energy can be captured in only 8 seconds, and the energy can be stored for up to 30 minutes or used immediately.

The KERS system – which spins its flywheel at a maximum of 60,000 rpm in a true vacuum and can deliver 80hp -- can be used to knock 1.5 seconds off the car's 0-60 time or in an economy mode to reduce pollution.
The entire system only weighs about 130 pounds, which makes it much lighter than a traditional electric motor and NiMH/Li-ion battery packs used in hybrid vehicles. For example, the batteries alone used in Volvo's current hybrids weigh 660 pounds. 

Flybrid KERS (Kinetic Recovery System) 

The prototype KERS systems won’t reach production in its current form. A production version of the system will see a similar flywheel and transmission attached to a front wheel drive-based transmission. 

Sources: Autocar, Top Gear

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Not the only one
By distantman on 3/26/2014 12:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
Garbage truck manufacturers are looking at this type of solution. Given that the bulk of their driving is short acceleration and stopping, this could be a huge deal for their industry.

RE: Not the only one
By Mint on 3/26/2014 7:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
Garbage trucks also have predictable, regular routes with low average speed. That makes them perfect candidates for EV powertrains. The hydraulic pumps could also be powered by electric motors more efficiently and reliably.

My guess, however, is that garbage trucks spend many times more on labor than they do on fuel, so the impetus may not be so great.

RE: Not the only one
By BZDTemp on 3/27/2014 10:21:48 AM , Rating: 2
Money is money, so if a KERS system makes for lower running costs and doesn't cause issues that offset those savings it will come.

Pretty much anything moving that does a lot of start/stop actions should be well suited for KERS, so anything in heavy city traffic is a good place to look.

I know that in the past there has been city buses equipped with kinetic energy recovery systems, but those weren't so successful they stayed in use. I'm guessing that fuel was cheaper back then and I suppose that those systems wasn't electronically controlled as they will be today.

Parts of the city railway system here in Copenhagen that stores and releases kinetic energy to the trains. When the lines was placed they simply placed the train station on hills whenever possible, just small ones a few meters high but it still makes a difference. The trains normally stops at all stations so going up to stations makes for easier braking and exchanges kinetic energy with potential energy, then when the trains start from the stations the process is reversed "automatically".

RE: Not the only one
By Mint on 3/27/2014 4:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty much anything moving that does a lot of start/stop actions should be well suited for KERS, so anything in heavy city traffic is a good place to look.

And they're also well suited to electrified powertrains.

Garbage trucks are even better suited, because not only do they move at a very slow average speed (thus not needing long range), but they also have a hydraulic system. Every manufacturing company knows that it's more economical and reliable to use an electric motor to drive hydraulic pumps than an ICE, if you have the option.

Lifetime cost is the bottom line, and KERS can only do so much when paired with $4/gal diesel.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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