The Williams F1 team has taken a major step in the development of systems destined for its 2009 with the acquisition of a minority shareholding in Automotive Hybrid Power Limited, a company developing high-energy composite flywheels for use in energy recovery systems.
Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems - or KERS - will become part of the F1 fabric next season, as the sport attempts to become greener and more energy efficient. While the technology will be introduced in a low-key way, its use and importance is expected to be ramped up over the coming years, allowing more of the stored energy to be used to boost the power of the cars, either through the increasingly popular 'push to pass' idea or on a continual basis. It has also been suggested that, in future, energy not just be recovered from brakes and axles, but also from other heat sources on the cars.
Relocating Automotive Hybrid Power Limited to Grove, and rebranding it Williams Hybrid Power Limited, the team will continue the company's work in developing a flywheel for potential use as the energy storage element of its KERS system. Williams is also exploring a number of other energy storage options.
“High-energy flywheel technology is a challenging field of engineering," Williams' director of engineering Patrick Head commented, "We fully support the FIA's positive initiative in energy recovery systems, which we hope will allow Formula One to make some contribution to the development of an environmentally beneficial technology that could help to reduce the carbon emissions of vehicles.”
The Williams Hybrid Power system is based on a flywheel rotating at speeds of up to 100,000rpm that would capture this energy for later release and, having designed a system to withstand the rigours of F1, hopes to transfer its technology to other types of vehicle.
“As AHP, we had begun to develop our own advanced flywheel technology for application in vehicles," Williams Hybrid Power MD Ian Foley said, "As Williams Hybrid Power, we will make use of the higher profile and Formula One development programme to accelerate development and bring it to market more quickly.”
Ferrari has already revealed that it is willing to supply its KERS system to those teams using its customer engines.