KTM has revealed that it employed a Kinetic Energy Recovery System at the final round of last year's 125GP season. KERS, which is under heavy development in Formula One, is an efficiency and performance enhancer that converts kinetic energy generated by heavy braking into extra power for acceleration. It's perhaps the best example of future green technology being developed in racing that could benefit everyday vehicles.
KERS is essentially an energy-storing flywheel attached to an efficient Continuously Variable Transmission. Under braking, energy that would usually be expended as heat is instead used to accelerate the flywheel. When needed that power can then be used to augment that of the internal combustion engine. What makes the system green isn't the added performance, but the use of energy that has traditionally been wasted.
KTM says its system only added about 3bhp to the racer's power output and has neither given details of where in the rev range that power comes in, nor commented on any negative factors associated with KERS. We're not sure where KTM housed the system, but since F1 is putting it into hubs, those negatives could include added weight, specifically of the unsprung variety. The KERS-equipped KTM finished 7th at the Valencia race. KTM's future plans for the system are unclear, but could presumably involve KERS being included on future racers should it prove effective.
This is another great example of motorcycles leading technological innovation. Both bike companies and the products they make are smaller, simpler and more flexible than their four-wheeled counterparts, meaning innovation comes more naturally to them. F1 won't be employing KERS until the 2009 season begins and even then its use will be strictly limited. The car racing series has also had numerous problems with development, with one mechanic being notably electrocuted in the pit lane during testing.
KERS is a particularly appealing proposition for road-going vehicles because of its lack of weight and relative simplicity over the energy storing systems in current hybrids like the Toyota Prius. KERS doesn't need batteries and is therefore free of their weight and the environmental impact that comes from creating and disposing of them.
In city riding KERS would have a significant impact on emissions, providing emissions-free power for initial acceleration away from stoplights and similar. In performance applications the system could provide on-demand extra power for overtaking or accelerating hard out of corners, using power that would've normally been wasted as brake heat on corner entry. More power using less fuel? Yes please.
Solo Moto via AutoBlogGreen