Formula One might not be using the controversial KERS energy-boost system next year, but that’s not stopping Williams from powering ahead with its development outside the sport.
The Oxfordshire-based team pursued a different course from the rest of the F1 grid, developing an innovative flywheel system that it believes has uses far beyond motor racing.
As a result Williams Hybrid Power Ltd, a company that was bought by the team and relocated to its Grove headquarters last year, has developed and patented a mobile energy recovery and storage solution.
It has just announced its membership of a partly government-funded consortium called KinerStor which aims to show mass market uses for a low-cost flywheel hybrid system. The project is led by transportation consultant Ricardo and also includes companies such as JCB and Land Rover.
KinerStor hopes to demonstrate fuel savings of up to 30 per cent, with equivalent reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, at a low enough cost to put the technology into affordable mass-market hybrid vehicles.
It will research and check the individual systems that make up flywheel energy-saving technologies and then develop them into two proprietary devices.
One will be Ricardo’s mechanical/magnetic coupled flywheel system, known as Kinergy, and the other will be an electrically-coupled unit developed by Williams Hybrid Power.
The KinerStor project team aims to design, build and test prototype units to ensure that the completed systems are ready for vehicle-based installation, testing and demonstration.
Ricardo group technology director Neville Jackson called the consortium “a crucial mass of skills and expertise” that could make future cars more fuel-efficient and greener.
Nor is it just cars that could benefit – along with all sorts of vehicles from sub-compact run-arounds to luxury SUVs, it is thought that the technology could provide low-cost compact energy storage systems for industrial and construction use.