The world's most watched sporting series, Formula One, is set to announce a new greener formula later this week, which will take effect in 2013. The rule changes are expected to see the introduction of 1.6 liter turbo engines with more powerful energy recovery systems, reduced maximum rpm (from 18,000 rpm to 10,000 rpm) and fuel (flow and capacity) restrictions, and can be expected to further the sport's objective of encouraging R&D relevant to road cars. While the targeted 30% initial improvement in gas mileage will only improve the current obscenely wasteful 3 mpg to 4 mpg (approx 70 liters/100 km) in 2013, it will enroll the brightest automotive technicians on the planet in a quest for greater efficiency from our automobiles and that's a wonderful outcome.
Porsche’s 911 GT3 R Hybrid racing project uses Williams Hybrid Power's KERS Flywheel technology (think of it as a mechanical supercapacitor), to capture energy from regenerative braking and then give it back as horsepower under acceleration. After showing lots of promise in its early races, the hybrid has come home with a rush in the closing stages of the season, winning its class and finishing sixth outright in the final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Last night its true standing as a significant automotive innovation shone through once more when it won Powertrain Innovation of the Year, Vehicle Development of the Year and Design Engineer of the Year at the Professional MotorSport World Expo in Koln, Germany.
It has been an exciting year for hybrid power train development in major racing series, with the teams deciding that KERS will return to Formula One in 2011, the growing success of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and now the news that Oshkosh Corporation will be fielding a 400 bhp hybrid diesel-electric Light Concept Vehicle in the Baja 1000 desert race which begins later this week in Mexico. Perhaps even more interesting than the hybrid powertrain is its TAK-4 suspension which offers 20 inches of independent wheel travel.
It looks like the folks at Lotus
were busy in the lead up to the 2010 Paris Motor Show
with the company unveiling no less than five
new concept models taking center stage at what was the most crowded press conference at the show. Under Malaysian Proton ownership since 1996, the group seems to be ready to revive the name globally with the five new concepts all set to go into production and be released over the next few years.
When you think Lotus
, you think diminutive, somewhat stripped-back sportscars, but the company is signaling a new direction with the roll-out of the Elite production prototype at the Paris Motor Show
later this month. The 2+2 Elite GT is, well, bigger – more room, more comfort, more weight (at 1650kg it's almost 300kg heavier than the Evora) and a front-mid positioned 5.0-litre V8 engine delivering up to 456kW and 720Nm of torque. There's also a hybrid technology option with Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) on offer as well as a retractable hardtop version. The promised performance specs are impressive – 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in around 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 315 km/h (195 mph). If you're in the market for a supercar in the US$180K price range you'll have to be patient though, the Lotus Elite isn't scheduled for production until 2014.
Williams F1 has increased its existing 40% shareholding in Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) to 78% on the back of some very favorable results on the racetrack in conjunction with Porsche and ever growing confidence that the company's magnetically loaded composite flywheel (MLC) technology will find wide application in hybrid passenger vehicles, hybrid buses, electric trains, diesel-electric ships and wind power generation.
It seems that the lessons learned in developing a mechanical KERS system for F1 may yet hold the key to a low-cost, high-efficiency hybrid system particularly suited for the stop-start patterns of buses, which are quite similar to the distances between capturing and delivering energy of those of a race car. Torotrak will deliver a paper at the SAE Commercial Vehicle Congress in Illinois next week showing how flywheel KERS for buses can offer more than 30 percent fuel saving over the London bus test cycle, yet package around an existing transmission.
Hiking has its share of highs and lows. One of the less pleasing aspects is ensuring you have an adequate source of energy to power your personal electronic equipment. There are a number of renewable energy options available that you may consider when planning your next hiking trip. You could harness the sun’s energy and use a solar-powered charger
or solar-wrapped batteries
. Perhaps you might choose to use wind power
to keep you in touch with the world? But wouldn’t it be great if you could harness power using your own kinetic energy
? It makes sense. You’re using your legs all day, surely all that sweat, pain and muscle fatigue is good for something? Enter the Etive – a concept device that uses kinetic energy as a power source for recharging all the electronic gadgets you bring to the great outdoors.
Red Bull Racing finally took its maiden Formula One victory in a rain-soaked Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today. German prodigy Sebastian Vettel took his second career win in the wet (he won in the rain at Monza last year for the other Red Bull Team, Torro Rosso), followed home by team mate Mark Webber to give the team a 1-2 finish. Only three cars elected to use the KERS hybrid systems after Ferrari, Renault and one BMW car dropped the system for the race.