One “name” you will be hearing more about next year & in the future is flywheel battery technology.
This video relives the dramatic events of the 24 Hour Race at the Nürburgring. Although the 911 GT 3 R Hybrid failed to score a sensational victory, it showed the potential of Porsche Intelligent Performance.
Marc Lieb, Porsche Factory Driver
Patrick Long, Porsche Factory Driver tests the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid at the Lausitzring in Germany in July 2010.
Porsche’s 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car used the technology for the first official race in North America on Oct 2nd, 2010 in the final round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series. (It finished in the middle of the pack.)
Following the season finale of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the Porsche racing laboratory raced at the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in Zhuhai on 7 November 2010.
The relentless pace of the Porsche GT3 Hybrid of Joerg Bergmeister Porsche Factory Driver and Patrick Long Porsche Factory Driver was impressive. The first GT first to finish the race – but ranked outside classification – finished in sixth place overall in the 1000 km of Zhuhai and made only four pit stops! A performance that earned the German manufacturer the Motul trophy for technological innovation.
“The first race in China with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid was a complete success,” says Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport. “The car contested the entire race without the slightest technical problem. The excellent pit stops by our factory squad from Weissach and an absolutely perfect performance from the drivers also contributed to this success. The development work on the hybrid system that we conducted since the last race in Road Atlanta has paid off. Today, we showed impressively just what potential the hybrid technology has. This result is a great motivation for continuing our work on the project. This was definitely not the last race for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid.”
The 911 GT3 is Porsche’s first hybrid racer and the precursor to the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid production car, which will launch in 2012. Detlev Von Platen, CEO of Porsche North America, says the flywheel technology used in both of the cars represents the future of Porsche.
“This car will define the next 60 years of Porsche,” Von Platen said.
Flywheel technology uses two electric motors at the front axle to supplement the engine (in this case, a 480 horsepower rear-mounted engine). It converts kinetic energy gathered while braking into electrical energy and stores it in a flywheel. Then during acceleration, that energy moves to the front wheels, which support the combustion engine. The process leads to a decent reduction in fuel consumption and an increase in cruising range; the big advantage in races is that the car has to refuel less often, buying it precious minutes on the course.
It’s an exciting advance in making cars more efficient without sacrificing speed and agility–the 918 is no shrinking violet, with an expected 500-plus horsepower all-wheel-drive and 0-62 mph time of 3.2 seconds. Porsche says 900 prospective buyers have already signed up to buy it.
What do you think – is flywheel tech the power of the future? What other car technology should we be watching for?
- Type: Hybrid
- Class: GT Racing
- Manufacturer: Porsche
- Propulsion system: Hybrid-Electric
- Fuel(s): Gasoline / Electricity
- Battery system: KERS Flywheel
- Time to full battery recharge: Seconds
- Price: Not Listed
- Availability: 2011-12, Limited
We hope that this will be just the start of the evolution of hybrid systems developed for Formula One moving across to applications where they can contribute to cleaner and more powerful vehicles.
The Porsche 911 is probably the most well-known vehicle Porsche has ever made and the 911 GT3 R Hybrid will be the latest in the racing line that Porsche has been putting out for competition Gran Tourismo racing. This latest incarnation is not a hybrid in the traditional sense, because instead of batteries, it has a flywheel.
The flywheel is made by Williams Hybrid Power and is a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), first developed for Formula One racing. When it proved to be inconclusive in its payoff in that racing venue, Porsche agreed to try it for GT racing. The first prototype of the KERS-enabled 911 Hybrid to be racing this year.
The front axle of the 911 has two 60kW electric motors which will drive the axle when a boost is needed. Otherwise, the 911 GT3 will have the usual 4L flat six mounted in the rear of the vehicle in traditional Porsche style. The other modification is for battery storage and braking.
When the driver applies the brakes, such as when rounding a turn, the energy is absorbed by the two motors, which rotate backwards to become generators. That energy is sent to the KERS flywheel, mounted at the center of the car under the right side floor. The rotor inside the KERS module is capable of rotating up to 40,000rpms, storing the kinetic energy of braking.
The energy is stored for 6-8 seconds, during which time the driver can access it to gain an extra power from the 120kW of motor boosting the engine’s push to accelerate the car. This results in both faster pickup speed and fuel savings, both very important to GT racing.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid’s first race was at the Nurburgring in May. This is a 24-hour race and the 911 hybrid will acted as a racing laboratory to test the KERS system for GT racing and spearhead the technology there.
Williams Hybrid Power is hoping to be able to commercialize their KERS system for other vehicle applications. Teaming up with the Qatar Science & Technology Park, the two partners will go forward as the Williams Technology Center to work on R&D with commercial goals.
What we like
Porsche is Spearheading this technology and if you think about engineering and racing, the name Porsche always comes up. There may be no better company to make this technology road worthy.
Lots of Potential in many markets where start-stop and bursts of speed and/or power are required, including heavy applications like garbage trucks and construction equipment.
What we don’t
Failed in F1 where the AT&T Williams team used KERS in their Formula One racer and failed to see much return and instead had a lot of headaches with the technology.
Not for Regular Cars as most normal passenger and long-distance vehicles will see little benefit from this kind of technology.
Although the technology is evolving quickly, other tech such as hydraulic power storage and lighter, better batteries may catch up before KERS is really ready for the mainstream. Time will tell, of course, and for racing, this could be a technology with great potential.