Porsche has already been recognized all over the world as building quality performance cars, despite their “heavy” price and big engines. It looks like now Porsche is trying to green itself out and use an innovative hybrid technology based on a flywheel, installed in a racing car.
The 911 GT3 R Hybrid is going to be used during the 24-hour race from Nurburgring, Germany. The flywheel hybrid system had been developed by Williams Hybrid Power using technology originally developed by the AT&T Williams F1 team, and is now being adapted for street cars.
“We are delighted to see our technology being adopted by one of the world’s leading engineering companies and most prestigious automotive manufacturers in one of their racing cars,” Ian Foley, managing director of Williams Hybrid Power, said in a statement. “Partnering with Porsche on this project has been a very positive experience and we are grateful to them for choosing to work with us.”
The flywheel that the Porsche GT3 R has inside spins at 40,000 rpm, with the power spinning it being taken from the regenerative braking systems. The role of the flywheel is a double one, acting both as a mechanically-storing device and as a motor.
The two front-axle electric motors, 60 kilowatts each, convert the mechanical energy when the brake is pressed into electricity, which spins the flywheel motor, bringing it to a maximum of 40,000 rpm. Then, during acceleration, the flywheel can generate up to 120 kW of electricity, acting in reverse, which are being sent to the electric motors, providing another 160 hp in excess to the already existing 480 given by the gasoline engine.
Pity that those 160hp are available for only 6 to 8 seconds from the moment of the charge, but that’s helping a race car, whose quickly accelerating/braking cycle is losing power without regenerative braking. This process not only that saves energy and increases mileage, but it also saves brakes and the need for pit stops decreases with lower fuel consumption (during a 24h race, that’s a big advantage).
Another advantage that the flywheel hybrid system offers is that it is lighter than batteries used for the same purpose in the same configuration, giving extra efficiency and boost to the car.
All the innovative car technology had been first applied to high performance sport cars, and then we saw them on the roads in regular ones. Maybe the flywheel hybrid system won’t be assembled next to the driver in a street car, but the technology will live after being so extensively tested by Porsche and Williams Hybrid Power. The contraption could even be used in electric cars, in the case that regular supercapacitors don’t provide enough storage, by allowing fast charge and discharge cycles without the risk of being chemically worn.