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Porsche Unveils 911 Hybrid With Flywheel Booster 197

MikeChino writes "Porsche has just unveiled its 911 GT3 R Hybrid, a 480 horsepower track vehicle ready to rock the 24-hour Nurburgring race this May. Porsche's latest supercar will use the same 911 production platform available to consumers today, with a few race-ready features including front-wheel hybrid drive and an innovative flywheel system that stores kinetic energy from braking and then uses it to provide a 160 horsepower burst of speed. The setup is sure to offer an advantage when powering out of turns and passing by other racers."
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Porsche Unveils 911 Hybrid With Flywheel Booster

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  • by flewp ( 458359 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @10:20PM (#31123502) [] As this post's title says, it doesn't give much more info. Essentially it just adds the information that the flywheel system is derived from the Williams F1 Team's KERS (kinetic energy recovery system).
    • As this post's title says, it doesn't give much more info. Essentially it just adds the information that the flywheel system is derived from the Williams F1 Team's KERS (kinetic energy recovery system).

      Cool. I saw flywheel and immediately thought KERS but didn't know what F1 team would give Porsche anything.

    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:08PM (#31123818) Journal

      A rule change in the F1 league requires Kenetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) systems for all F1 cars in 2010 and is pretty much the main driver behind the technology. LeMans is also requiring hybrid systems, though they've banned anything with a flywheel. Williams developed the only flywheel KERS and AFAIK is the only team which developed any system in-house & without a partner in the auto industry.

      Here's some better info explaining the technology: []

      • by flewp ( 458359 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:05AM (#31124164)
        Uh, no. No team is running KERS in 2010. KERS is not banned in 2010 (regulations still allow it, but it is neither banned, nor required), but the FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) teams have agreed to not use KERS in 2010. All of the teams so far are members of FOTA, which means unless one of them breaks ranks, we won't see KERS on the grid in 2010.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        KERS was mostly a disaster in 2009 by allowing teams to use it, but not mandating it. At the end of the season, all teams agreed to abandon the technology. The BMW F1 team bet heavily on KERS and designed their car around it. After challenging for the championship in 2008, their 2009 campaign was so poor, they quit F1 altogether.

        • by pmontra ( 738736 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @07:28AM (#31125926) Homepage
          They allowed the KERS to store only 80 HP and it could be used for at most 6 seconds per lap.
          Add to this that none of the teams that planned to use KERS designed a car with a double diffuser, an aerodinamical device allowed by a loophole in the rules initially exploited by only three teams. The double diffuser turned out to be far more important than the KERS for the performances of the car. Brawn GP got an expecially good implementation of the device and won 6 of the first 7 races. After that they coasted to win the championship as the other teams struggled to catch up. KERS teams got on par only on the last races of the season.
          By the way, BMW abandoned KERS quite early in the season and it used it only on one of its cars.
      • LeMans is also requiring hybrid systems, though they've banned anything with a flywheel.

        So, this means no manual transmissions?

        • LeMans is also requiring hybrid systems, though they've banned anything with a flywheel.

          So, this means no manual transmissions?

          And no compression, come to think of it.

        • kimvette, you can have a direct-drive hybrid where the powerhouse (typically internal combustion engine) is physically connected to the wheels, but with an electromotor connected to the drivetrain that assists when driving slowly, and charges the batteries when breaking, so that would still give you the option of having a manual transmission system in place.

          MichaelSmith, there is absolutely no reason to leave out (or include for that matter) a compressor in a hybrid car. Infact, most engines have a higher
  • Gyroscopic effect? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nicknamenotavailable ( 1730990 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @10:32PM (#31123574)

    Flywheels have been used to store energy for ages, but do they change the handling of the car at all?
    Boats can have gyroscopic roll stabilizers, but what effect does this flywheel have?

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      I was wondering this, too. I think they could negate it with gimbals, though.

      What would be really interesting is if they could figure out a way to use the flywheel + gimbals selectively in some sort of anti-roll/traction control/etc, when necessary. IANAMechE, though, maybe someone with a deeper background could hypothesize further :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DieByWire ( 744043 )

      ...but do they change the handling of the car at all?

      Counter-rotating flywheels (and/or orienting the flywheel axis vertically) would probably minimize the precession effects. Weight distribution and complexity are probably larger factors.

    • If there's enough gyroscopic effect to matter, then the normal engineering way to deal with it would be to use a pair of flywheels rotating in opposite directions. Then, you can think of it either way, the gyroscopic effects cancel... or the net angular momentum of the two flywheels is zero so there is no gyroscopic effect.

      • by eelke_klein ( 676038 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:52AM (#31125392)

        Two counter rotating flywheels will NOT cancel out each other! Only the reaction (precessional is the official term i think in english) forces are canceled out!

        Let's say the three axis are x, y and z. Then when you have a single flywheel which is rotating about the x axis it will resist rotating along the other axis and while react with a force that is perpedular to the the rotation and the force. When adding a second counter rotating flywheel it will cause a reaction force opposite to that of the first flywheel so the reaction forces are canceled out. However the combination still resist rotating along any axis other then it's axis of rotation.

        • While what you say is true, the only axis you want a car to rotate around easily is the one that involves turning the car. You want to minimize body pitch and roll as much as possible in almost all cases. The only exception that comes to mind is rock crawling, which is done at very low speeds anyway. So all you have to do is mount the counter-rotating flywheels with their axis pointing towards the sky, and the car's handling will be improved.

    • Flywheels have been used to store energy for ages, but do they change the handling of the car at all?
      Boats can have gyroscopic roll stabilizers, but what effect does this flywheel have?

      Well, if the axis is vertical, the car would turn just fine. It wouldn't want to flip over, but i think that's alright with most people involved.

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        It wouldn't want to tilt up/down to go up or down slopes either.

        Which might not be so alright.

        Lots of roads also have banked corners.
    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:45AM (#31124698)

      what effect does this flywheel have?

      Blue sparks shoot out of the wheels, and then you can get ahead of your competitors and shoot a green shell backwards at them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kf6auf ( 719514 )

      It depends on the orientation of the axis of the flywheel. If you try to place the flywheel so that the axis is horizontal, you'll end up with needing to apply a lot of torque in order to turn the vehicle left-right, making it harder to turn. If you place the flywheel so that the axis is vertical, the amount of torque necessary to flip the vehicle would go up, probably making this a safety feature for SUVs, and would have very little effect on the torque needed to turn the vehicle left-right.

      The rule wi

    • If the gyro is locked down, which the Williams unit appears to be, it will counter any roll and pitch in the car while having little or no effect on yaw, perhaps it might introduce a perceptible precession during roll or pitch. I'd think for a competent race driver, acclimatization to the system would be fairly quick, it's effects are the same as most chassis designers try to replicate mechanically anyways. Also because the gyro is countering chassis force, that thing better have some hellacious bearings in

  • by psperl ( 1704658 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @10:33PM (#31123578) Homepage
    This is very similiar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) that was used by some F1 teams last year such as McLaren and Ferrari. The system failed because the gains weren't enough to offset weight and bulk of the system. All F1 cars weigh 600kg, but the cars themselves are actually much lighter and need to be ballasted to reach this weight. The distribution of this ballast is very important, as keeping the center of gravity low on a race car is critical. Cars with KERS has a higher center of gravity than other cars because the KERS systems couldn't be placed as low as ballast. Add to that the loss of development time on other areas of the car, and the result is that all of the teams with KERS performed very poorly. This Porsche could make a hybrid system work, as it has more design flexibility and a longer race. Fuel savings will be exxagerated by the extreme length of the race, which is 12 times longer than the maximum time allowed for an F1 race.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem with the KERS system is not entirely on the weight, but because of the rules. They could only use it for 7 or so seconds per lap as stipulated by the rules, since they don't want the KERS cars to outrun the normal cars without even putting up a fight.

    • by tangent3 ( 449222 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:34AM (#31124648)

      The KERS cars performed poorly at the start of the season, but started catching up during the middle of the season, with McLaren having the fastest car at the end of the season. The double diffuser controversy also had a big hand in holding back the KERS cars at the start of the season.

    • Could happen. After all, they've saved-up countless millions of engineering hours by not having to pay designers to re-think the shape, configuration and style of the original Beetle.

      The 911 is some serious evolution of "The People's Car". I'll not Godwinize myself here.
  • by BeaverCleaver ( 673164 ) on Friday February 12, 2010 @10:33PM (#31123580)

    From TFA: "This generator stores energy each time the vehicle breaks..."

    If I had a Porsche 911 I wouldn't want to damage the thing to use the hybrid feature. Do they perhaps mean "brakes"?

  • sounds familiar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday February 12, 2010 @10:44PM (#31123652)

    Hybrid-drivetrain racecar with a flywheel sounds a lot like this 1994 car [].

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      Hmm, doesn't sound like it at all to me...

      That car was a gas turbine engine powering a an electric motor with the flywheel assisting the same motor. This one is a traditional Porsche flat 6 driving the rear wheels with a braking-powered flywheel occasionally driving the front. All cars have flywheels, that doesn't mean all cars are alike.

  • ...a fun time for Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. :-)
  • In a race car???
  • No mention of the awesome green-light burn-outs soon to be offered to the affluent consumer?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tompaulco ( 629533 )
      Whenever I see somebody doing a burnout, I always feel bad for them because their poor tires are not properly matched to their car. After all, with a properly matched tire set, if you tromp the gas, the car goes fast. I love embarassing ignorant rednecks in their hopped up Camaros by beating them for the first couple of hundred yards in my all wheel drive GMC Safari minivan while they sit their and spin their wheels like idiots. They don't seem to realize that they can only beat me once their wheels stop sp
      • Oh, yeah, I'm with you completely on that. If it's really speed you want, then maintaining traction as much as possible is the way to get it. But burnouts are not really a display of speed, they're a show unto themselves.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zmaragdus ( 1686342 )

        Small addendum: some cars have enough power to spin any set of tires when the driver stomps his foot down. One point of skill for people who own such cars is to be able to launch your car from a halt as fast as you can without spinning the tires.

  • Quoting from []

    The hybrid system in the GT3 R Hybrid uses a flywheel system that harnesses kinetic energy under braking to power a pair of electric motors mounted in a single assembly. The electric motors and flywheel assembly sit where the passenger seat of a street 911 would normally reside. Power gathered by the flywheel system is sent to the front wheels and when fully charged the hybrid system can provide a 6-8 second burst of power for passing and exiting corners activated by a button on the steering wheel. The flywheel in the hybrid system will reportedly spin as fast as 40,000 rpm.

    The pair of electric motors provides an additional 161 horsepower to the front wheels supplementing the 4.0-liter flat-6 that produces 480hp and sends its power to the rear wheels. Porsche is mum on performance claims for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, but the car will appear on May 15 at the Nurburgring 24 Hours endurance race."

    So it's not too different from a normal hybrid, except instead of charging batteries to store the energy they are spinning up a flywheel. The forward kinetic energy of the vehicle is recovered as electrical power using generators/motors, which drives generator/motors that spin up a flywheel. Going the other way, the flywheel mechanical energy is converted back to electricity to drive the front wheel motors.

    • I think the most interesting part of the story, and that which makes it /.-appropriate is that they're storing the energy mechanically instead of in a battery. I'd imagine the power levels this kind of system would require and charge/drain rates would wreak all kinds of havoc on a typical battery. Furthermore, it seems like a good call for a rapid (6-8 seconds) release of the stored power. It's a hybrid race car, not a commuter; the primary benefit is the speed boost (akin to using nitrous oxide), not the f
      • The very rapid store/release is probably the main benefit. Overall energy storage is probably pretty low. Doing the math, an 80-hp output for 10 seconds is about the 166 watt-hours of energy. Or about the equivalent of a small 12 volt, 14 amp*hr motorcycle battery. I can't imaging that energy efficiency or the energy/weight ratio is higher than a battery.

  • Mechanical Hybrids (Score:3, Informative)

    by nido ( 102070 ) <nido56 AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:05AM (#31124492) Homepage

    ... A few years ago I heard about Tom Kasmer's hydraulic transmission. He calls it the Hydristor [] (also: wikipedia entry []).

    Basically, an invention like Kasmer's could be used to turn any car into a hybrid by replacing the transmission. Braking energy is stored in a hydraulic pressure system (the proper name escapes me at the moment).

    While this system from Porsche is interesting, it is not revolutionary.

    The next automotive revolution will be some form of retrofit.

    • Is it a hydraulic accumulator you mean?

      They used a few of them in that marvellous fusion of aesthetics and engineering, the Citroën DS. It's a pity that the latest model to bear that name is just another anonymous hatchback. I tried to look at the Citroen site to see if it had any interesting new tech in it but car makers are the absolute limit when it comes to impossible-to-navigate, stupid bloody flash sites.

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      I remember reading that UPS was looking into this for their delivery trucks. Personally I think USPS would have even more use - those idiots literally drive from house to house in my area including starting and turning off the car to get out and walk up my lawn.'s the dumbest thing i've seen in a very long time.

      Anyhow, delivery vehicles where there's plenty of available space, not as much concern about weight, and lots of stop-and-go driving this seems like a great idea.

  • I wanna know if I can get one of those stickers for the carpool lane with the 911 GT3 Hybrid.
  • With race cars, the lighter the better -- better braking, better turning, better acceleration.

    With flywheels it's the opposite, the more mass the better (the more energy it will hold at a given speed).

    It looks like the flywheel will rectify only one of the above performance components that its extra mass hurts -- acceleration.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eagle8635 ( 674636 )
      That's true, and why I personally think hybrid sports cars don't generally make a great deal of sense. However, from what I've been able to find, the Porsche system is apparently lighter than the equivalent battery-based hybrid system, and in a 24 hour endurance race like the one this car will be competing in, efficiency becomes really important, probably more so than being able to overtake in the corners. That's one of the reasons diesel cars do so well at LeMans, even though many of the gasoline-powered
    • Physics 101: Energy = m * v^2

      ie. mass is far less important then velocity (RPM in the case of a flywheel).

  • How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive [] has added a chapter on how to add on a hamster wheel.

  • and an innovative flywheel system that stores kinetic energy from braking

    Wow, then about every subway train and bus in my city must be from the future, because they had flywheels for at least a decade.

    • by VON-MAN ( 621853 )
      Yes, and most children's toy cars have had one for a couple of decades. Yet, when busses got one it was innovation as well.
    • They're also a lot bigger than a Porsche, and with all the extra weight gyroscopic effects aren't really much of an issue.
  • If you put the flywheel with the axis horizontal, the car will resist turning. My guess is that this doesn't work so well for a racing car....

    If you put the flywheel with the axis vertical, the car would lift its inside wheels when cornering a banked turn, right?

    • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

      They usually put the flyvheel mounted in a gymbal, spinning with a vertical axis. Make that a pair and you can cancel out the charge/discharge reaction force too.

  • Porsche's latest supercar will use the same 911 production platform available to consumers today, with a few race-ready features

    Translation: They just needed to fit the accelerator gear with Toyota-built pedals and now they're all set.

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