KERS - What Is It?

Flood1

Rookie
Sportsman and I have been talking about Kers amongst ourselves for a couple of years. There seems to be some fundamental misunderstandings about kenetic energy and Sportsman attempts to explain the basics on the blog http://www.formula1journal.com/2010/08/ ... tsman.html.

I have some info that is a bit confusing to most and it requires some maths understanding that I will follow up with later. It is calculations that yield some understanding of the effect of Kers, but I will use the data to explain why the FIA have failed with their baby steps.

Please note: We post the articles on the blog because it lends itself to long form writings. But, we want the discussion to be on this forum. So, please read the blog, but post your comments here. Blogs are not a user based medium, forums are. Thanks guys.
 

MajorDanby

Motorsports' answer to Eric the Eel
Contributor
Fairly well explained I think. There is the common misnomer that the KERS system does recover energy from the braking systems, as oppose from the drive train. I suppose that in essence you could explain at as under braking the drive train is disconnected from the wheels, the drive train still wants to turn at the same speed, due to conservation of momentum, and that power is then funnelled into the KERS system, to charge the batteries. One of the major problems that all teams running KERS in 2009 found, was the major instability under braking this effect caused.

It will be interesting to see if any have managed to improve this for 2011.

Sadly the major limiting factor for all these types of technologies, be it KERS, Hybrid cars, fully electric cars, or any sort of energy recovery systems is the quality of the batteries available for use.

Without going into too much detail in how a battery works, the basic problems continue to be the limited amount of charge they can store, the amount that they weigh, and the (relatively) long charge times. Put it this way, you have a normal road car, and pull into a petrol station (to recharge your batteries, so to speak). You spend less than 5 minutes refuelling, and then your away. For all electric cars available now, minimum charge times are measured in hours, not minutes. Also the range of such cars are pitiful as compared to ones with a standard IC engine.

The problem is we are simply not able to store electrical energy, with the same energy density, or even approaching the same energy density of fuel. For all such technologies to improve, battery storage needs to improve. Both in charge capacity, and charge time.

If we found the KERS regulations removed we would obviously see an increase in stored energy, however, eventually the teams would encounter the same problems and find themselves limited, not by the amount of energy they can recover from the system, but how quickly and efficiently they can store the power.

I believe the usage of KERS is restricted because battery research is so expensive and teams could spend millions researching. Sorry sportsman, but the batteries they use in F1 work on the same principles as those found in a lot of Electric cars, better examples certainly, but essentially the same science. Maybe the teams should be allowed to increase the benefit as much as possible from KERS as a high capacity, quick charging battery will be a benefit for many applications outside of F1.

By the way, is this:


The Dragon Kahn or something similar? I swear I have been on this roller coaster, 7 loops or something? :D

I think in Mallorca? Spain maybe?
 

sobriety

Pole Sitter
That coaster does look like dragon khan, it's at port aventura on the costa brava/verde in catalunya. It used to ahve the most loops in the world at 7 or 8 i think.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
MajorDanby said:
I believe the usage of KERS is restricted because battery research is so expensive and teams could spend millions researching. Sorry sportsman, but the batteries they use in F1 work on the same principles as those found in a lot of Electric cars, better examples certainly, but essentially the same science. Maybe the teams should be allowed to increase the benefit as much as possible from KERS as a high capacity, quick charging battery will be a benefit for many applications outside of F1.

This was the difference I was referring to.
F1 uses Lithium ion batteries.The Toyota Prius use nickel-metal-hydride.

Only BMW uses super capacitors.Which is a differnt science.
I have no idea where the roller coaster is. It was simply a pic that showed a good example of kinetic energy.
 

MajorDanby

Motorsports' answer to Eric the Eel
Contributor
Lithium-Ion, the same sort that are in many laptops.

The reason the Prius use NmH, as oppose to Li-ion id due to the longevity, and life cycle of the battery. The NmH last a lot longer than the Li-ion, however the energy density and charge times are not as good. The Li-ion are superior in these regards, but quickly degrade and require replacement.

The higher energy density of the Li-ion make them the perfect choice for F1 as they are not bothered about the relative cost of replacing the battery packs, but more concerned about weight effects, and speed of charge. Imagine changing the batteries in your Prius every 6 months. People may be a little pissed off :D.

My main point is that the battery packs are the limiting factor of these technologies, and although Li-ion are currently the best of the best, they are still not good enough.

I have read some interesting journals recently that are making use of similar chemical make up of batteries, but adapting the electrodes insides them. Instead of having layers of electrodes in the electrolyte, they are instead roughening them on the nano-scale. This has the effect of dramatically increase the electrode surface area, enabling a greater rate of charge, as well as a greater rate of discharge. Sadly however these electrodes tend to oxidise quicker than in the current Li-ion causing degradation.

The whole area of battery research really requires a different approach I'm afraid. If we are aiming for long lasting, high energy density, quick charging battery packs. The science is really quite a long way away.

Now super capacitors are an interesting idea, I didn't know BMW where actually using them in production. You do not have the disadvantages of long charge/discharge times, or the sort of lifecycle problems from degradation of the electrodes. At the moment however I am pretty certain they would not be able to store anywhere near the charge of the Li-ion batteries, the energy density per unit area would be much reduced, also they would be a damn site fore dangerous, wanting to release all their charge almost immediately!! Wouldn't want to go anywhere near a fully charged one!!

Sobreity, thats it!!! In the Costa del Sol? Deffo Port Aventura. Fairly decent theme park
 

F1Yorkshire

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Contributor
Is KERS the way forward though?

F1 is trying to promote its greener side so why use a technology that uses more energy and waste creating the systems than is actually saved during racing.

There is plenty of talk on t'internet about the benefits of having less polluting cars and energy recovery systems but they usually neglect to mention the damage done to the environment when producing the batteries.

There are many articles claiming that a Hummer is less polluting that a Prius over the lifetime of the vehicle. These claims may be hard to prove but the point remains that even though the Prius may be less polluting than a standard car there is still considerable damage done creating them.

The same applies to F1. The cost of the systems still outweigh the benefits and while its a step in the right direction its not really having the enviromental impact that they desire.

The future could be Hydrogen fuel cells. Its a shame Honda are no longer part of F1 as they are world leaders when it comes to Fuel cells. Their FC Sport Car (http://www.ridelust.com/the-hydrogen-powered-honda-fc-sport/) could be the way forward as long as it can be proved that the Cell itself can survive 200MPH+ impacts.

If F1 can make use of that technology there will be an increased market for them and then it will not be long until Hydrogen fuelled cars will be common on our roads and a real impact can be made.
 

MajorDanby

Motorsports' answer to Eric the Eel
Contributor
F1Yorkshire.

I am agreed with you that in principle that Hydrogen fuel cells (HFC) are the way forward. However, I will have to point out something that a lot of articles neglect to mention.

Currently, in the HFCs used in production, and in all but the most experimental, the standard electrode is made from platinum. This is because the electrolyte in a fuel cell in an extremely acidic environment (due to the necessary working conditions of the semi-permuable membrane that allows the passage of OH ions). Using these standard electrolytes platinum is the only material that seems to be able to withstand the environment, and work effectively.

The only problem is as follows. If all the cars in the world were converted to HFC, there would not be enough platinum in the earths crust to meet even 1/10th of the demand.

Current research is concentrating on developing a semi-permuable membrane that will work in an alkaline environment, allowing other electrode materials to be used that are cheaper and more abundant. HFC research is effectively stalled at the moment.

Another thing that is also standing in the way of HFCs in the actual production and storage of hydrogen. At the moment a lot of the hydrogen generation processes take more energy than you get back from either burning the gas or using it in a fuel cell. Safe storage in a car is also a concern, although as you say, Honda have proven it safe at a 200mph impact.

For HFCs to be realised we need several things.

-Development of a membrane that works in an alkaline environment
-Effective green methods of production of Hydrogen
-Safer storage of hydrogen gas.

Until at least the top 2 have been realised I doubt we will see any commercial uptake of the technology. On an aside, I am a big fan or the technology, and hope to switch my research and career to that field in the near future. I think it has major possibilities and really interests me. I don't want you to think that I am slamming it for no reason :D
 

F1Yorkshire

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Contributor
I know we are a long way off from HFC been common and hopefully it will lessen the damage done to the planet, I don't believe Global Warming is caused by pollution, its more likely to be the normal cooling/heating cycle that the planet has been going through in its lifetime

My main point I was trying to say is that most of the KERS systems in 2009 were not really having an impact in terms of energy saved compared to enviromental costs of the systems.

The one exception to this was the Williams flywheel system.

http://www.racecar-engineering.com/alla ... ained.html

While still costly to produce and develop it does not use batteries which are the significant factor when it comes to pollution and recycling. I believe this is the system that will be more likely to be used in road cars but I'm not sure if it will be used next year as I heard there was going to be a standard KERS system for all the cars.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
You just beat me to it F1 Yorkshire.There is indeed a flywheel based system developed by Hybrid Techonlogies, a company that Williams eventually bought.

http://www.williamshybridpower.com/
This system was used by Porsche in the 24 hour Le mans race this year.

On the subject of HFC powered IC engines, that is probably the best way forward.
But with systems such as the Williams flywheel to waste all of the kinetic energy generated seem pointless.

In a perfect world HFC powered IC engines coupled to a Williams system provides the best of both worlds.

Of course this car is actually been built and tested.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10836132
 

Flood1

Rookie
To return to the battery issue, the batteries are not a limiting factor when you use kers in it's purest form. You only need enough storage to make it to the next braking point. Long term storage is not necessary. If I deplete the battery completly at the exit of every turn, and then replenish it at every braking point, then the storage issue goes away. The type of storage system required to do this does not need to be based on the technologies that hold storage for long term and are depleted at a slow rate. The current rules do not support this approach, however.

For road cars this only makes sense in stop and go traffic. Otherwiae it has no use. But what about city busses. Stop start, stop start, all freaking day long. What about garbage trucks that do the same?
 

MajorDanby

Motorsports' answer to Eric the Eel
Contributor
Obviously, one of the bigger problems for HFC cars is the availability and production of hydrogen. At the moment there seems to be no easy way of generating Hydrogen.

I have read of a few solutions, but they don't seem to be getting the required level of research. On idea that I heard of a few years ago seems to have been completely brushed under the carpet. Either it was not successful or an oil company purchased the patent (it wouldn't be the first time).

By adding Boron to H20 and boiling, the Boron bonds with the oxygen in the water to create Boron Oxide, releasing hydrogen as a by product. Excellent, we are left with hydrogen, but also Boron Oxide. Apparently however, by heating the boron oxide in the presence of carbon (ideally in a solar powered thermal plant) the oxygen then bonds with the carbon, forming CO2 and Boron again. The guy who postulated the idea envisioned a series of fuel stations that collected Boron Oxide, and dispensed pure Boron. With the fuel for the car being simply water.

I've not heard anything since, maybe suggesting the science isn't fool proof. However, I think its this sort of out the box thinking that is required for a hydrogen economy to be bought about. I know people are researching the ideas of some high impact catalyst that will split water with the addition of sunlight, but sadly it is probably a long time away. Sadly I think the lack of funding from oil companies is what is really stifling this research. One would assume that this would be a naturally progressive step for them, and the funding would be forthcoming, however the nature of money and business means that it is not.

At the moment, as you both have been suggesting, the way forward seems to be optimisation and efficiency. The flywheel idea is nice, and again works on the idea of conservation of momentum but can it really be scaled up to make it a feasible answer to the situation for road cars? Normally when you brake significantly you expect to be waiting at lights or in traffic for several minutes, all the time loosing the power you have saved in the flywheel. Is it even possible to store the full braking energy in the flywheel? I'd assume not. If you wanted to conserve all braking energy you'd need a bigger flywheel with a larger mass. What is the effect of carrying this extra mass along with you? Accelerating it and bringing along with you. Does it actually reduce efficacy on long journeys on where you spend most of your time on motorways without any braking or acceleration?

The problem at the moment is that everything is a halfway measure, with no one technology superior and lots of disadvantages with the associated advantages.
 

MajorDanby

Motorsports' answer to Eric the Eel
Contributor
Flood1 said:
To return to the battery issue, the batteries are not a limiting factor when you use kers in it's purest form. You only need enough storage to make it to the next braking point. Long term storage is not necessary. If I deplete the battery completly at the exit of every turn, and then replenish it at every braking point, then the storage issue goes away. The type of storage system required to do this does not need to be based on the technologies that hold storage for long term and are depleted at a slow rate. The current rules do not support this approach, however.

For road cars this only makes sense in stop and go traffic. Otherwiae it has no use. But what about city busses. Stop start, stop start, all freaking day long. What about garbage trucks that do the same?

Agreed Flood,

F1 can not really be compared to full road car use, also batteries may not really be the limiting factor for KERS, but definitely is for cars such as the Prius and their analogues.

Buses? I'm not sure, however the mass of those is so high that the energy storage facilities will have to be significant. It will take a lot of electrical power to effect such a large mass. Situations where long term storage is not necessary definitely lends itself to more of the super capacitor based storage system, as alluded to by sportsman. Again, however, we come back to the environmental impact due to the manufacture and disposal of batteries, and whether the gains in their lifetimes can really outweigh those costs.
 

Flood1

Rookie
Batteries are the wrong approach which is why Sportsman and I have a keen interest in the flywheel technologies. It is an electrical storage device but it is not a battery. The key to the future of electric vehicles is definitely in a new technology that works out the electrical storage issue.

Batteries are inefficient. To convert chemical energy to electrical energy to mechanical energy is one too many steps.
 

F1Yorkshire

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MajorDanby said:
F1 can not really be compared to full road car use, also batteries may not really be the limiting factor for KERS, but definitely is for cars such as the Prius and their analogues.

I thought one of the reasons F1 is wanting to pursue greener forms of racer is so the technology can be developed for road car use. Many of the advances in motoring have come from racing although not all of them have remained in F1 like active suspension and ABS.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
F1Yorkshire said:
MajorDanby said:
F1 can not really be compared to full road car use, also batteries may not really be the limiting factor for KERS, but definitely is for cars such as the Prius and their analogues.

I thought one of the reasons F1 is wanting to pursue greener forms of racer is so the technology can be developed for road car use. Many of the advances in motoring have come from racing although not all of them have remained in F1 like active suspension and ABS.

ABS actually came from the aviation industry and was incorporated into F1.
Active susension came from the road car industry and was incorporated into F1.
Mitsubishi developed semi active suspension which first appeared on the 1982 I think.Citroen used various types of both active and semi active suspension for their DS range way back in the early 70's.
Lotus developed them for their road car division and brought them into F1.
 
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