As we all saw in the last class lecture, efficiency and losses play an intricate role in energy. However, we can all agree that increasing efficiency and limiting energy losses is imperative for energy conservation.
Before hybrid technology, the last drastic change to fuel economy was due to fuel management systems. Fuel injectors increase combustion efficiency by producing smaller droplets for the combustion process. Some of us may remember our parents’ old cars with carburetors and only remember fuel injection systems really making an appearance in the 1980’s. In reality they appeared on the racing scene as early as the 1950’s. In
Beginning in 2009, Formula One teams are planning to introduce hybrid racecars onto the circuit.
For the public market removing the batteries from hybrids is a huge concern. By eliminating the batteries, the environmental concerns with battery disposal are gone. Even if car manufacturers choose to keep the batteries and implement the system on a current regenerative braking vehicle like the Prius, the system would still reduce the act of draining and recharging of the batteries. As we may notice from our day to day activities, battery life of various electronics diminish with constant use.
With or with batteries, this system would be ideal for those drivers with a heavy foot at intersections. Since it’s mechanically based, the system is projected to be able to provide about 80 HP over approximately six seconds so that you can beat that pesky looking Jetta next to you. Unbeknownst to many drivers, it’s not your RPM that influences your fuel consumption the most; it’s the throttle position and the load on the car. One way I can think of implementing the system on automobiles on the road is to activate the KERS from a stop (when the load on the car would be the highest) to reach a coasting speed and then shift the load to the engine when the load would be lower.
Although this would definitely take some time to implement on automobiles, the concept is interesting and may work really well for those that have to floor their cars at every intersection. With the energy dilemma we face today, I personally won’t be surprised if KERS appears on the streets soon.
To learn more about how the Torotrak variator (part of the KERS) works here’s a link to the manufacturer’s description of the system: http://www.xtrac.com/pdfs/Torotrak_Xtrac_CVT.pdf
The following is a Youtube video of a similar system for those that would like to see the components of the system. Keep in mind that the KERS system implemented by the Formula One teams would be using flywheels for energy storage rather than springs and would be more complex than this system: