KERS technology revealed

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A British company has confirmed it is working with a top F1 team on the development of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System planned for 2009.

Torotrak is working with two other companies, Xtrac and Flybrid Systems, to supply several important technologies. These are Torotrak’s traction drive technology, a continuously variable transmissions (CVT) by Xtrac and Flybrid’s hybrid vehicle expertise. CVT was previously banned in Formula 1.

The picture shows Jon Hilton of Flybrid, Adrian Moore of Xtrac and Dick Elsy of Torotrak with their compact flywheel and CVT variator for the KERS.

Some teams are understood to be lobbying the FIA to delay the introduction of KERS to 2011.

The trio explained how the system works:

“The mechanical KERS system utilises flywheel technology developed by Flybrid Systems to recover and store a moving vehicle’s kinetic energy which is otherwise wasted when the vehicle is decelerated. The energy is received from the driveline through the Torotrak CVT, engineered and supplied by Xtrac, as the vehicle decelerates, and is subsequently released back into the driveline, again through the CVT, as the vehicle accelerates. The FIA has defined the amount of energy recovery for the 2009 season as 400kJ per lap giving the driver an extra 80hp over a period of 6.67 seconds.

“Compared to the alternative of electrical-battery systems, the mechanical KERS system provides a significantly more compact, efficient, lighter and environmentally-friendly solution.

“The components within each variator include an input disc and an opposing output disc. Each disc is formed so that the gap created between the discs is ‘doughnut’ shaped; that is, the toroidal surfaces on each disc form the toroidal cavity.

“Two or three rollers are located inside each toroidal cavity and are positioned so that the outer edge of each roller is in contact with the toroidal surfaces of the input disc and output disc.

“As the input disc rotates, power is transferred via the rollers to the output disc, which rotates in the opposite direction to the input disc.

“The angle of the roller determines the ratio of the Variator and therefore a change in the angle of the roller results in a change in the ratio. So, with the roller at a small radius (near the centre) on the input disc and at a large radius (near the edge) on the output disc the Variator produces a ‘low’ ratio. Moving the roller across the discs to a large radius at the input disc and corresponding low radius at the output produces the ‘high’ ratio and provides the full ratio sweep in a smooth, continuous manner.

“The transfer of power through the contacting surfaces of the discs and rollers takes place via a microscopic film of specially developed long-molecule traction fluid. This fluid separates the rolling surfaces of the discs and rollers at their contact points.

“The input and output discs are clamped together within each variator unit. The traction fluid in the contact points between the discs and rollers become highly viscous under this clamping pressure, increasing its ‘stickiness’ and creating an efficient mechanism for transferring power between the rotating discs and rollers.”

More about KERS

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “KERS technology revealed”

  1. Ummm, yeah, okay…

  2. sounds like 2009 is the year f1 dies

  3. with the current engine rules, f1 needs this!

  4. Seriously, why the hell does this need to be on a formula 1 car? Lame!

  5. The fluid they speak of was used in Subaru 4wd drive couplings as far back as 1989 !!!!!! And some may remember the Subaru “Justy” with it’s CVT transmission. I wonder if the F1 team that has shown interest in all this is Dave Richards ProDrive team as he raced Subarus in WRC for several years. Although the text reads “TOP” F1 team and ProDrive has yet to make an appearance! Time will tell.

  6. Interesting sidebar from Number 38…, Why does this device sound more like a kind of boost (like forced induction, although in this case we’re just moving the driveline, not sucking extra air into the motor) than an environmental concept?

  7. So… an extra 80bhp on tap as the car accelerates out of a tight corner. And the loser is: any team who don’t fit this.

  8. SanPhire, I believe KERS is mandatory from the 2009 season.

  9. It’s not mandatory to have a KERS, but as it’s the only expansion permitted for the engines, every team will probably have one anyway.

  10. Aaron Mullan
    19th April 2008, 12:19

    I think this isn’t really the best way forward for F1 as this will just give the teams with larger budgets even more of an advantage than they already have now. Cars should be as similar as possible so that the best driver wins and not just the best car all the time. No one really knows who is the best driver from year to year just which team has the best car.

  11. Another nail in the coffin. . .

  12. f1 cars should illustrate what is possible technologically not made equal.  other formulae exist to give better entertainment and pitting driver against driver.  keep f1 at the cutting edge!

  13. I agree with jon corke! f1 isn’t about just the drivers. Honda wouldn’t have brought their new nose design to Spain last week if that were the case. F1 teams have the money and ability to develop new and exciting technology, even if it might be rejected by the FIA. so as far as I am concerned its part of their job. We have seen the FIA change rules one year and change em back the next, and that all about trying and testing to see what will keep the sport exciting and on the cutting edge of tech.  And if in 50 years petroleum based fuels are banned or something, I dam well hope that F1 is the first to adapt!

  14. F1 is has and should always be about cutting edge technology obviously driver safety has also been a key issue too in the last 15 years.   The pairing of best Driver and best technology.It has also  famously known as the F1 Circus,  well I’m here for the circus unscripted , expect the unexpected, real and live, striving to be bigger and better.If I wanted to watch close racing, at high speed with similar equipment , I’d watch Champ or Cart on oval tracks.  It is unfortunate that so few teams consistently dominate the top 4 or 5 spots, but hey thats life 20% consistently rising to the top.   The FIA should not be Bernie Ecclestones TV show promoter its job is the promotion of F1 as a sport Faster further higher, sport not soap opera. Cheers, Brendan

  15. Does this mean that all the F1 cars are going to have exactly the same power output? With a Booster of course…
    I suppose the next step will be that only one Manufacturer will be chosen to provide the engines, and only one Supplier will be used to provide the fuel too.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that Max is trying to turn F1 into a Big Boy’s GP2, or rather a Formula Ferrari. And since Flavio and Jean Todt are always in the shadows of any FIA decision, it may all be happening sooner rather than later.



  17. I have heard two things about this. The article above is outlining a KERS system that is purely mechanical. It seems like it would work from the momentum of a flywheel. I also read that Mario Thessin -sp? was talking about the KERS not being that green because batteries will be discarded after each race. This implies an electric hybrid. If KERS is electric I could see a “boost” button, but this article is talking about mechanical advantage.

    In terms of automotive technology F1 can be compared to war. Look at how much technology the public got from the World Wars when it was military development. The F1 teams are fighting with plenty of money and research going towards victories. Eventually F1 tech trickles down to what the common Joe might see in his car.

  18. Wouldn’t a Flux Capacitor be a better solution? Link it via a Bottom End Knocker-Spocket to the Thruggle Booster, bob’s your mothers brother – an extra 4bhp. Bernie will sell them to the teams for a small profit. Everone is happy!

  19. All of this talks about output from the system (this will apply whether mechanical or electrical) what it doesn’t describe is the additional loading to the overall engine system during input, and the corresponding additional costs associated with the loading, ie higher fuel consumption, additional wear and tear on components etc. Correct me if I’m wrong, and it’s a while since I did physics at school, but there is still no such thing as perpetual motion, so you can only at maximum regain the equivalent of what you put in, less a percentage attributed to drag, etc. Hence I cannot see how it will provide any added overall performance i.e. what you gain in acceleration at the point it is deployed you have lost earlier in charging up the system.

    As an aside, all teams are struggling with their KERS development, there have been injuries, someone will systain a serious injury before long and KERS will be removed.

  20. Tom – Nice idea, but the races would all stop when they hit 88mph! :)

  21. Nixtrix – Unfortunately your physics is bad. As the name suggests the system is designed to retrieve Kintetic Energy i.e. energy due to motion.

    Normally the kinetic energy due to a cars motion is lost through heat from the braking system dissipated into the atmosphere.

    So the new KERS will not only save petrol not expended in acceleration (the stored energy helps here) but reduce Global Warming from saving the brake heat!!!

  22. Forget all the high teck gimmicktry, and just get F1 back to basics.
    Small engines, small or no wings, steel brakes and slick tyres.
    Let the drivers be racers again, see who can look after there gear the best, and we may just get to see some actual overtaking on the track.

  23. KERS will only be put back if Ferrari are struggling with the concept. Mclaren seem t be trialing ok, but red bull and toyota are struggling, as it sounds on the grape vine…we all know the FIA will go with what every Ferrari say so if they say give it another year they will get another year….
    Melbourne look like it will be fun for the first eace tho

  24. Slick tyres are back next year along with front wing alteration by the driver during the race.

  25. Sorry Brocky,

    But F1 is NOT about the driver… The driver is only part of it. Think of it as a HUGE R&D for manufacturers and other companies to take technologies to the market. At the same time, make lots of $$. Find out about all the technologies that are in our cars thanks to the developent in or for F1 (TCS, ABS, etc, etc).

  26. Hi everybody, I agree with CM it is truly about technology which will end up benefitting average Joe’s like myself in new technological advancements e.g. in our cars. I do believe that drivers play a large part in the car as their skill is tested but to advance humans need challenge and difference and anyway we have the A1 Grand Prix which tests purely driver skill as the cars are identical so we have competitions to satisfy everybody really. However there will obviously always be arguements between sports enthusiasts about what should be done but unfortunately it is out of our control. Personally i like the idea of the KERS, however,I,like everyone else, will have to wait to see if the weight issues compared to power gain (during the course of a race) issues will be resolved but ultimately the testing will be worthwhile to everyone. Does anybody agree that Sebastien Vettel took unnecessary action overtaking Lewis Hamilton today and think that Lewis is on the receiving end of huge jealousy from supposedly elite sportsman like monobrow-man Alonso? It seems to me that the only true rival of Hamilton’s that is in any way sportsman-like is Felipe Massa who was humble in defeat at his home track in Brazil! Even though Massa was upset he did not sulk like Alonso who is apparently the best pound for pound formula 1 driver currently. Who can possibly say? Like earlier in my comments, unless the drivers all had identical engines, manufacturers and rules etc. then nobody can say for real, it is ridiculous. Hope we have a good season next year though the rules and regulations may yield some surprises!!!

  27. I think it’s time that F1 got back to basics.
    Real gear changing and foot clutches, no on board telemtry or radio, steel brakes and limited wing area front and back. The current F1 cars are so ugly now with all the wings on them. They must also be very boring to drive as it seems that any kid who has grown up with a playstation can drive them.
    F1 was driven by the technocrats and the software engineers and the result is ugly, boring cars. What did you expect !

  28. Andrew Connolly
    24th November 2008, 1:06

    1.21 Gigawatts? Great scott.

  29. KERS is a brilliant idea, admit it folks, yet for me this is by far, too ambitious.

    It is noble that even races as hard as F-1 should consider a new dogma, i.e.: fuel efficiency and keep on thinking green.

    I believe, in next F1 seasons, there will be some regulations that force every F1 team to use wind-sail, solar cells and other “green” devices.

    And I’m sure that such racing will still very amusing, remember that we won’t live forever. Next generation of F1 fanatics will have a totally different perception.

    Go, KERS, go!

    1. Green, LMAO there more chemicals and additives in Fi Fuel than space shuttle rocket fuel.

  30. What the hell next, solar panels and wind generaors? This is pure BS (KER’s) Don’t want to be around when one of those lets go at the RPM their turning cause nothing gonna stop em… The greening of F1. Might as well paint all the bodies green. Pure Bull Doodies.

  31. HA HA reminds me of my racing Daf 33 from 30 years ago

  32. Amit Palsule
    27th March 2009, 13:33

    I think this technology is just like NOS wich will be glicerine for the F1 world.It will help on the staight roads, It will decrease the time for few seconds.It will also increase the top speed,but on the turns there are chances of wipping out if the driver pushes the botton!!!!!!!!!

  33. stop being girls F1, bring back turbos, that will lower the cost of performance.

  34. Mark Gradwell
    29th March 2009, 14:41

    Two competing technologies. Mechanical flywheel and electric motor-capacitor/battery. On the domestic car front both adding weight and danger. With the flywheel a 64k RPM. spinny thing being suddenly released when a car crashes opposed to kilo-amps cumming from the battery pack of the electrical system.

    All in all I’m hoping mechanical ends up winning this particular VHS/Betamax war. Since it will be inherently lighter and simpler. Ether system could save your life one day if say you mis judge an overtaking maneuver on some lonely country road.

    As for saving the environment…er no. Only a breakthrough with nuclear fusion reactor technology can do that. Frankly enjoy it while you can folks. We’re almost certainly stuffed.

  35. i cant beleive i stumbled onto your post..thanks so much!!! i am going to have to sign up 2 ur RSS feed so i can keep updated with your post…thanks Again

  36. KERS or regenerative brakes have serious disadvantages. It is only good for sport cars but hardly have any advantages with standard cars because it has to operate an electric generator, which works only at higher speeds and may not be possible to operate with front wheels.

    My invented new brake system has eliminated all these disadvantages. Please read my article at:

  37. I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye.

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