One of the UK’s biggest bus companies are to try out a fuel-saving flywheel which was originally developed for use in Formula One racing cars. It couldn’t be used in the cars because of a change in regulations by the sport’s governing body. The bus company, Go Ahead, is to fit the flywheel to six of their buses in a trial starting later this year. The trial buses will be operating around Putney in South West London.
Oxfordshire-based Williams F1 are the team who first developed the technology and they say that the carbon composite flywheel could reduce the fuel usage of a city bus by as much as thirty percent. If the trial is a success and as long as they can afford it, Go Ahead says that they will fit the flywheel to all of their four thousand buses.
Flywheels store rotational energy and have long been used for this in such things as potter’s wheels. Their use in vehicles up to now has been prevented because they would have to be so heavy to store enough energy to be of use in a vehicle. Williams Hybrid Power has now developed a flywheel which is roughly 50kg lighter than the ones currently used in buses. It still rotates, however at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm.
Another advantage to this flywheel is that it can be fitted into an operational bus and does not need to be fitted in the factory during manufacture. Williams developed it for the 2009 F1season but were not allowed to put it to use. It has since been used in Audi and Porsche racing cars and Audi plan to use the flywheel in the R18 e-tron Quattro in the 24-hour Le Mans race later in the year.