KERS – boosting the F1
Between 2009 and 2011, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), was used by Formula 1 teams to recover the kinetic energy used when a car brakes, for future use. KERS was the first step towards the electrification of power units in F1, making them one of the most efficient internal combustion engines ever made.
Without this type of recovery system, this energy would usually be lost in the form of heat. KERS instead converted this kinetic energy into electrical energy which was then stored in a battery, flywheel, or supercapacitor to be deployed by the driver later on the lap (Energy Education, 2018).
Using this system, F1 drivers were able to gain a boost of power when the KERS button was pressed on the steering wheel, discharging the battery to the motion of the drive shaft. This boost provided up to 80 bhp – a powerful acceleration for up to 7 seconds per lap (BBC Sport, 2012).
The boost was often used by drivers to reach their top speed faster, get out of slow corners, and on straights to exceed their usual speeds. The 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton win the F1 with a hybrid engine – a first in F1.
The reason KERS was not used past 2011 was due to drivers having to take one hand off the wheel to operate it, raising concerns over safety after a number of minor incidents. However, it has since been developed, seeing the use of ERS in its place.
ERS – the next stage of KERS
ERS, or Energy Recovery Systems, takes KERS to the next level – a more advanced and powerful system that comprises two motor generators, complemented by an Energy Store (ES) which recovers energy and delivers it in the form of energy, and Control Electronics (CE) (Daimler, 2019).
In contrast to KERS, ERS is deployed by ‘engine maps’ – pre-set modes that dictate how the engine is used, and exactly where ERS is used, rather than the driver. ERS can provide up to 120kw (approx. 160bhp) of power for approximately 33 seconds per lap.
The motor generators comprise of:
- Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic (MGU-K): recovers kinetic energy from the car when braking
- Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H): uses heat from the car’s waste exhaust gases to drive a generator – this sits between the compressor and turbine of the turbocharger (Autoevolution, 2018).
Exhaust gases from the engine power the turbocharger, however the MGU-H recovers the excess energy in the exhaust stream which is generated when the compressor is powered up. This electrical energy is used to keep the compressor running under braking, and rotational energy is converted into electrical energy which is then stored as chemical energy (Daimler, 2019).
The entire hybrid system is controlled by the Control Electronics (CE), and it will complete around 43 trillion calculations in order to analyse the speed at which the electric motors should run at and how much power should be deployed. In addition, it also calculates how the Energy Store can be optimised to ensure peak performance.
Magnetic Rotors – a key component
Magnetic rotors are integral to high performance, highly efficient electric machines and components used in motorsport as well as the aerospace and automotive industries. They are able to perform in extreme conditions, an excess of 50,000 RPM, making them ideal for this application, and critical to boosting performance in these high powered machines.
Why dynamically balance magnetic rotors?
As magnetic rotors often operate at very high speeds and require very tight tolerances, even the smallest amount of unbalance due to centrifugal forces during rotation will cause the assembly to vibrate. If left undetected, and as the rotational speed increases, so will the vibration, resulting in damage and premature component failure.
Dynamically balancing the magnetic rotor assembly will remove or minimise imbalance, allowing the rotor to run without vibration, in turn extend its lifespan, and allow it to operate to its maximum performance potential.
Do you have a magnetic rotor in need of balancing? Get in touch with our team to discuss your needs and ensure your machines are operating to their full potential.
BBC Sport, 2012. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/20496330
Energy Education, 2018. https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Kinetic_energy_recovery_system