var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-35554880-2']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid - Flywheel Formula

The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid will be introduced by Porsche AG for production-based Gran Tourismo racing. It will feature the unusual hybrid flywheel energy recovery system known as KERS which was developed for Formula One racing by Williams Hybrid Power.
image from Porsche AG
 

by Aaron Turpen

Specs:

  • 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

The manufacturer says

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.

Overview

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.

KERS unit

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 will 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 will see its first race in Nurburgring in May. This is a 24-hour race and the 911 hybrid will act 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.

Conclusions

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.

Related Articles

This site follows the emergence, application and development of transportation innovation. Reference to manufacturers, makes and models, and other automotive-related businesses are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by FutureCars.com.

futurefuel