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Kinetic energy storage systems (KERS) continue to be one of the hottest topics in Formula One motor racing this year and now engineering researchers are working to develop KERS technology for standard road cars.
Potential benefits of KERS include improvements to vehicle efficiency and emissions, according to Dr Clive Ferguson (School of Engineering). “KERS is a way of harvesting and storing the energy generated when a vehicle brakes. This stored energy can be used by the vehicle, potentially improving its fuel efficiency and emissions. We also believe there is the potential to improve vehicle handling.”
The harvested energy can be stored in various ways, including electrically using batteries – the method mostly used in Formula One to date – or mechanically using a flywheel. Dr Ferguson believes mechanical storage has a number of potential advantages, such as significant savings in weight and space. They are also friendlier for the environment because they remove the need for highly toxic lithium-based batteries.