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Volvo’s Kinetic Flywheel Can Boost Fuel Economy 25%

A new type of kinetic flywheel technology from Volvo Car Group could be a cheap and efficient method for boosting fuel economy by as much as 25%.

The new flywheel system, Flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), fits onto the rear axle of a gas-powered car, and when the vehicle brakes, the device converts that brake energy to the spinning flywheel, which spins as fast as 60,000 RPM.

Once braking begins, the standard combustion engine powering the front wheels of the car is switched off, and when the vehicle begins to move again after a stop, the rear wheels get a boost from the flywheel’s rotation, reducing fuel consumption.

When the vehicle reaches cruising speed again, the combustion engine kicks in and takes over until the next stop/start cycle.

“The results show that this technology combined with a four-cylinder turbo engine has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 25 percent compared with a six-cylinder turbo engine at a comparable performance level. Giving the driver an extra 80 horsepower, it makes car with a four-cylinder engine accelerate like one with a six-cylinder unit.” – Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group

Volvo flywheel KERS
Previous attempts at using flywheels to assist in propulsion of vehicles have not been very successful, but the earlier units were made from steel, which kept flywheel units too heavy and large for most applications. But the KERS unit is built from carbon fiber, and the flywheel only weighs about 6 kg, making it a viable option for integrating into automobiles.

According to Volvo, the next step for the technology will be to determine how to best implement the KERS in future models of their vehicles.

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