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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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RE: Interesting tech
By Alexvrb on 3/26/2014 11:16:31 PM , Rating: 3
I hate it when people bring up racing when discussing reliability in the context of pedestrian vehicles. Racing solutions don't compare to long-term ownership of a stock vehicle. You can make an engine scream and deem it "race reliable" because you only have to rebuild it every so often. There's a reason they sleeve race engines. But the typical well-maintained stock engine should have no problem going over 200K without a rebuild. KERS is no different. Show me a car with a KERS system that has only undergone basic maintenance with 200K miles on it. If you want to be an early adopter, good for you - early adopters of certain unreliable DCTs were very valuable guinea pigs.

Other than that, I agree with you. If it can be made bulletproof I would take this over a conventional gas, gas with start-stop only, and the most basic mild hybrids. But it doesn't compare to a modern full hybrid or PHEV, for multiple reasons.

RE: Interesting tech
By BZDTemp on 3/27/2014 7:27:15 AM , Rating: 2
But it doesn't compare to a modern full hybrid or PHEV, for multiple reasons.

That is some statements you're making. I'd be interested in learning what it is you're thinking of with regards to those multiple reasons.

As for comparing racing to normal life then it is not as clean cut as you make it out to be. Th high stress world of racing does not cover everything, but it is a good way to stress test new tech and that includes testing wear factors.

RE: Interesting tech
By PaFromFL on 3/27/2014 8:40:00 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how they handle the angular momentum constraint. Over 200k miles, pitch, roll, and yaw might take a toll on bearings.

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