Swedish automotive manufacturer Volvo is busy testing a new Formula-1 style KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) flywheel technology that can not only increase the performance of its cars but also reduce fuel consumption by as much as 25 per cent.
The experiments are a result of a recent partnership between Volvo and Flybrid Automotive – one of the leading manufacturers of cutting-edge flywheel systems.
The technology is currently fitted to the rear axle of a Volvo S60 that’s powered by a 242bhp, five-cylinder petrol engine. Under braking, kinetic energy, which would otherwise be lost as heat, is transferred from the wheels to the KERS, and is used to spin a 6kg carbon fibre flywheel at up to 60,000 revs per minute.
The energy developed by this spinning wheel is harnessed and transferred back to the rear wheels via a specially designed transmission. The added energy can either provide extra boost from standstill or reduce the load on the engine at cruising speeds, therefore reducing the amount of fuel used.
"The flywheel's stored energy is sufficient to power the car for short periods. This has a major impact on fuel consumption. Our calculations indicate that it will be possible to turn off the combustion engine about half the time when driving according to the official New European Driving Cycle," explains Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group.
According to Volvo engineers, the flywheel technology will be most useful in busy towns and cities where stop/start driving is the norm. Kinetic energy is more likely to build up under constant braking, and the added boost from the new technology is said to knock seconds off the 0-60mph sprint time – perfect for the morning traffic light Olympics.
The new technology will take some time to filter down into production models, but if you fancy investing in a used Volvo you can check out our selection of quality used models HERE