Why You Need To Pay Attention To Car’s KERS?


Photo source: http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/webproj/212_spring_2014/Brian_Cook/technology.html

KERS is now the growing trend in the automobile industry. There are lots of reasons why the market should start considering it as a worthwhile and efficient choice. Before we talk further about its perks, let’s try to dig deeper on what it is all about.

 What is KERS?

KERS means Kinetic Energy Recovery System. This device enables the recovery of the kinetic energy present in the waste heat made by the vehicle’s braking process. This accumulates the energy and transforms it to power which can be used to enhance acceleration.

How It Works

There actually are 2 types of systems: flywheel which is mechanical and battery which is electrical—most choose the battery system. The electrical systems utilize a motor generator, which is integrated to the vehicle’s transmission that turns into mechanical energy then to electrical energy–vice versa. By the time the energy harnesses, it is stored in a battery then gets released when needed.

Mechanical systems cover braking energy & utilize it to convert a small flywheel that could spin at a maximum of 80,000 rpm. If extra power is needed, the flywheel gets linked to the vehicle’s rear wheels. In comparison to the electrical KERS, mechanical energy does not change the state and could then be more efficient.

There’s another option available, the hydraulic KERS, wherein the braking energy gets utilized to gather hydraulic pressure that is then directed to the wheel when necessary.

Do the regulations have restrictions on the usage of KERS?

At present, the regulations allow the systems to take up to 60 kw (around 80bhp) while its storage capacity just limits to 400 kilojoules. It could mean that this 80bhp could only be available for those with a maximum of 6.67s per laps, that could be released either all at once or at various points throughout the circuit. The benefits of lap time could range between 0.1 and 0.4s.

How does the driver release the stored energy?

The regulations state that the release should be totally under the control of the driver. There’s a boost button right on its steering wheel that the driver can press.

Why was KERS introduced?

There are two targets for its introduction. First is to foster the advancement of road-car relevant and environment-friendly ad technologies in F1 racing. Second is to support overtaking at all costs.

A chasing driver could maximize the boost button in order to pass the vehicle in front of him. On the other hand, the leading driver could utilize his boost button in order to make an escape. According to the regulation set, there could be some limits on the use of the device. This is where strategies arise—where and when to utilize the KERS energy.

Is a car running KERS heavier than one which is not running the system?

Nope. A usual KERS system has a weight of 35kg. F1 cars should weigh a minimum of 640 kg (the driver included), but usually the teams make the core significantly lighter and then expend 70kg to make it weigh more. This could mean that the team using KERS has less ballast to keep moving around the vehicle and there is less freedom to change the weight distribution of the vehicle. Drivers who are heavier can sense a disadvantage here. This is an issue which got addressed by the increase of the required minimum car weight in 2011.

Do teams have to use it?

The maximization of KERS is actually not obligatory. Lots of teams used it when it got introduced in 2009. There was an agreement between constructors that impeded its use in 2010. However, it resumed in 2011.

KERS car

Photo source: https://www.autojunction.in/car-technology/Mazda-Develops-i-ELOOP-Kinetic-Energy-Recovery-System-For-Road-Cars-114-40052.cms

Perks of Cars with KERS

KERS is lighter and smaller as compared to a petrol-electric hybrid. In actual conditions, it saves on fuel consumption like a hybrid car. You may also add an F1-style function.

The kinetic energy, which you would usually lose to heat upon braking, gets propelled to a fly wheel that could cover 150 watt hours within just roughly 8 seconds of subtle braking. That is the same extent of energy you would require to charge twenty five new iPhones covered in 1/3 of the time a Toyota Prius takes.

Once it gets recovered, it could be kept for around half an hour or readily used as an engine’s supplement or in a big lump. If you choose the former, it could cut the consumption by a maximum of 25%. Pick the latter &  you’d get additional 80hm in an instant.

All the thrust just comes from a small box of clutches and gears that’s 60kg in weight. This needs virtually no maintenance and could last the test of time.

Here are some of the carmakers that are testing the KERS systems.

  • Peugeot Sport revealed the Peugeot 908 HY during the 2008 1000-km of Silverstone. It is a hybrid electric version of their diesel 908. Peugeot intended to promote the car during the 2009 Le Mans Series season, though it couldn’t quite possibly rake in championship points.
  • Vodafone McLaren Mercedes started to test their KERS in Sept. 2008 that the Jerez tested track to get ready for the 2009 F1 season, though it wasn’t known yet whether they’d be running a mechanical or electrical system. In Nov. 2008, it got announced that the Free scale Semiconductor will get in partnership with McLaren Electronic System to develop the KERS for McLaren’s F1 car from 2010 onwards. Both of the parties believed that the collaboration will enhance the KERS system of McLaren and aid the system filter down to the road car technology.
  • Toyota used a super capacitor for regeneration purposes on their Supra HV-R 918 concept car which won the Tokachi 24 hours endurance race way back 2007. The Supra was the 1st hybrid car in the whole history of motorsports to have won such a competition.
  • Porsche revealed an RSR variant of the Porsche 918 concept car during the NAIAS 2011. This variant utilized a flywheel-based KERS which sits next to the driver in the occupant compartment and enhances the 565 BHP engine driving the rear and the dual-electric motors driving the front wheels to an overall 767 BHP power output. This has got some problems like the imbalance of the car because of its flywheel. Porsche is now developing their electrical storage system.
  • Mazda unveiled the i-ELOOP in 2011. It’s a system that uses a variable- voltage alternator in order to turn kinetic energy into electric power upon deceleration. The energy that was stored in a double layer capacitor was maximized to supply the power required by the car electrical systems. Along with their start-stop system, Mazda claimed to have made a product that could save a maximum of 10% on fuel.
  • PSA Peugeot Citroën and Bosch have createda hybrid system which uses hydraulics as the means to transfer energy to & from a compressed nitrogen tank. They claim fuel savings of a maximum of 45%. Their system also claims to be cheaper than the flywheel and electric systems & is expect to hit the road this 2016.

The development of Kinetic Energy Recovery System is surely a stepping stone towards more efficient automobile experience. It’s expected that further developments on this advancement will be made and more manufacturers will consider adapting it to their systems. It’s also expected that more and more consumers will find it more worthwhile than the regular automobiles.

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