Wrightbus and Arriva trial KERS technology

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Wrightbus has confirmed that a Kinetic Recovery System (KERS) project, developed in a collaborative partnership and partially funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is in full service trials with Arriva.

The flywheel KERS unit, which utilises Flybrid technology, has been developed in a collaborative project with Arriva, Productiv, Voith Turbo and Torotrak and co-funded by a funding award of £698k from Innovate UK. The aim of the project is to explore the potential of harvesting kinetic energy from vehicle braking systems, with a view to introducing the technology to the Wrightbus model range.

Wrightbus, along with its partners, started work on the project in autumn 2012, with one of the first KERS-equipped customer vehicles on display at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event at Millbrook in September last year.

The Flybrid Kinetic Energy Recovery System uses a high speed flywheel to capture kinetic energy when the bus is decelerating. This stored energy is then transferred mechanically back to the wheels and used to accelerate the vehicle.

The Flybrid® KERS unit itself is fitted parallel to the transmission on the driveline and is linked to the rear axle by means of an additional prop shaft. The adoption of the flywheel technology has included work on both engineering and software integration, with extensive support from Flybrid technology developers, Torotrak.

In service trials with Arriva, the day to day reliability of the technology on a route in Gillingham will be tested on the prototype vehicle to confirm both its operational potential and commercial viability.

Wrights Group Engineering Director Brian Maybin said: “We, along with our partners, have been working hard on this project for nearly two years now and we are excited to see the product in service with Arriva. Results have been very encouraging, with test track assessments confirming our predictions that the Flybrid system offers operator payback within five years.

“All partners have benefited greatly from valuable learning that we have gained from the project to date and look forward with enthusiasm to the next stage, which will involve system optimisation, prior to commencing production in early 2016. Collectively, we are confident that we can achieve the ambitious fuel saving target set at the outset of the project, and offer an affordable hybrid product with fast commercial payback.”

Engineering Director at Arriva UK, Ian Tarran, commented; “Putting flywheel KERS technology into fare paying service is another exciting phase of this important project. The data and feedback from the vehicle’s operation on the Gillingham route will give us further insight into the longer term potential of, what hopefully will be, another cost effective technology to reduce carbon emissions and save on fuel costs.”