Volvo Test a Flywheel KERS System

A few years ago a revolutionary new system named 'KERS' was introduced to F1; soon we could see it out on the road.

The 'Kinetic Energy Recovery System' was added to F1 to allow drivers an extra burst of horsepower, for overtaking manoeuvres and to assist with acceleration out of corners. But did you know, however, that KERS can be used very effectively as not only a speed boost; but also as a way to save fuel?

Volvo is currently testing a 'Flywheel KERS' system using a Volvo S60 as its test bed. The system uses a flywheel, bolted on the axel, to collect kinetic energy that is usually wasted as heat energy whilst the driver brakes. This collects about 150 watt hours in about 8 seconds of normal braking and could therefore, theoretically, collect enough energy to charge 25 iPhones in about a third of the time current hybrids can. The energy can then be saved in the incredibly small unit for half an hour.

Once you have some energy saved up, you have a choice of how you use it. The first of your options is to use it as a system to assist with fuel consumption. The energy is used slowly to assist the car in acceleration and general driving. Volvo say that using it in this way will cut fuel consumption by around 25%.

Your other option is to use it in the same way that F1 drivers use it. Choosing to use KERS as a boost will instantly add 80bhp and lots of torque, delivered in a surge that has been compared to that of an old-school turbo. Using this boost, Volvo have seen their S60 Test bed cut its 0-60 time of 7.68 seconds to 6.07 seconds. The KERS boost lasts around 10 seconds but uses all of the stored energy at once.