Building on its extensive experience in the research and development of advanced energy management concepts – including the engineering of kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) for motorsport – Ricardo has devised Kinergy, a high-speed, hermetically-sealed flywheel energy storage system concept with a highly innovative and patented magnetic gearing and coupling mechanism.
The high power density and long-life potential of Kinergy technology combines both simplicity and effectiveness, avoiding the need for vacuum pumps and seals typically associated with high speed carbon fibre based flywheel systems. The lack of any mechanical coupling or other form of linkage through the system’s casing enables Kinergy to offer a highly robust, compact and lightweight package suitable both for incorporation into new product designs as well as retrofit applications aimed at improving the efficiency of existing vehicle fleets and industrial equipment.
The range of potential Kinergy applications is significant not least due to its comparatively very low projected production costs. The technology is thus ideally suited for use in road vehicles where regenerative braking and torque assist is employed as a means of improving efficiency and hence reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Such potential applications range from small, price-sensitive mass-market passenger cars to large luxury SUVs, buses and trucks. Across all of these vehicle categories, Kinergy offers the prospect of enabling effective hybridisation extending into market sectors where the use of conventional electro-chemical battery systems technology would be prohibitively expensive. Further potential Kinergy applications also include low-cost, compact energy management and storage systems for use in industrial and construction equipment, elevators, railway rolling stock, and local electrical substations and power distribution systems.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Ricardo group technology director Neville Jackson said: “Ricardo is pleased to be able to announce its next-generation, cost-effective, high energy density flywheel system technology. Mechanical hybridisation using Kinergy based systems offers the prospect of enabling a wide range of energy management solutions including low-carbon vehicle powertrain for applications where electric hybridisation is not considered to be cost-effective.”
Kinergy research collaborations
Ricardo aims to further develop Kinergy technology and demonstrate its benefits in applications through research collaborations with a number of industrial partners. The first of these collaborations – the FLYBUS and KinerStor research projects, both of which are part funded by the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board – are also announced today. FLYBUS will involve the development of a Ricardo Kinergy flywheel energy storage device incorporating a Torotrak patented Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for installation in a demonstrator vehicle based on an Optare Solo bus. The FLYBUS project is being led by Torotrak and further details can be found in a separate press release issued today by Torotrak.
The KinerStor project is led by Ricardo and aims to demonstrate the potential of using high speed flywheel technologies – including both Kinergy and competitor systems – in delivering hybrid systems with the potential for 30 per cent fuel savings (and equivalent reductions in CO2 emissions) at an on-cost of below £1000, thus enabling the mass-market uptake of hybrid vehicles in price sensitive vehicle applications. Further information on the KinerStor project can be found in a separate press release issued today by Ricardo.
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