JLR is once again on the forefront of an exciting new technology. This time, harnessing braking energy mechanically instead of electrically. And that can make all of the difference.
(L to R) Adrian Moore technical director Xtrac, Dick Elsy CEO Torotrak and Jon Hilton managing partner Flybrid, demonstrate the light, compact, efficient CVT and flywheel KERS components (Picture supplied by: Glyn Merga)
Over the next two years, Jaguar Land Rover will be leading a team to examine alternative flywheel concepts with the aim to build a demo vehicle with the new flywheel hybrid technology in place.
The project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board, will include advanced technology from Flybrid, Torotrak, Xtrac and Ford and will be based on technology recently developed in accordance with new Formula One regulations. Their goal is to develop an entirely mechanical system that will efficiently recover the kinetic energy of a vehicle during braking in a high speed rotating flywheel, rather than using an electric motor to store it in batteries, as in current electric hybrids.
The advantage of using a mechanical system are significant. They are more efficient in recovering energy during braking than electric hybrids and should be substantially cheaper to produce. The flywheel is also better at deep cycle charging and recharging, whereby all the energy is either released or recovered from the unit, with no loss in performance over the life of the vehicle, as can be the case with electric-based systems where batteries can lose their ability to fully charge and discharge.
The beauty of this type of flywheel hybrid system is that it will require no change to the base vehicle platform. Its (potentially) compact layout makes vehicle packaging and integration simpler, with no complex electronics to design into the existing on-board computer network.
The targets for the new system are to have a round trip efficiency of 70%, with a fuel economy improvement over the NEDC (New European Drive Cycle) of 20%. One of the key advantages is that improvements in real world fuel economy are expected to be at least as good as that recorded over the NEDC cycle which is not always the case for conventional electric hybrids.
A simpler, more compact system that works better, saves more fuel and can potentially just bolt into place. Sounds like a worthy effort to us.
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