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Williams F1 Backs KER’s Technology

by F1Fan on April 28, 2010

While many of the Formula One teams have turned their back on KER’s the same can’t be said for Williams F1, who today confirmed that it has acquired a majority shareholding in Williams Hybrid Power (WHP), increasing its existing 40% stake in the company to 78%.

Williams F1’s original investment in WHP dates back to March 2008 when it bought a minority share in Automotive Hybrid Power and subsequently re-named the company to Williams Hybrid Power, a Norfolk-based provider of composite flywheel technology. At the time kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) were being promoted for use in Formula One by then FIA president Max Mosely with KER’s systems finally debuting in the 2009 season although the WHP flywheel system has not been raced by the team, WHP’s magnetically loaded composite flywheel (MLC) technology continues to garner considerable interest outside of Formula One.

With car manufacturers seeking reductions in CO2 emissions, WHP’s flywheel technology provides a cost-effective, technically viable and environmentally-sound solution for the mild hybrid sector. Consequently, in 2009 WHP re-focused its development efforts to road vehicle applications of the technology and recently partnered with Porsche AG to incorporate the system in the new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid.

WHP technology has already enjoyed a successful racing debut in the Porsche hybrid, finishing first in its class and third place overall in only the second race of the season at the Nürburgring earlier this month. Williams F1 driver, Nico Hülkenberg, has also experienced the technology first hand when he completed three laps of the 24 kilometre Nordschleife on Friday 23 April driving the Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Announcing the increased investment Alex Burns, Chairman of WHP and CEO of Williams F1, said,

“I am delighted that we have now taken a larger stake in Williams Hybrid Power. This agreement means that the business has the funding it needs for the development of a family of MLC flywheels to suit a range of applications in the automotive and other industries. I am confident that WHP will continue to deliver value to its customers and develop into a substantial, successful business.”

In addition to use in racing and road car programmes, WHP’s technology is also under development at Williams F1’s new research facility at Qatar’s Science and Technology Park for inclusion in larger infrastructure applications outside of the automotive industry using the technology available to meet the high-power energy storage needs in a variety of applications
including hybrid passenger vehicles, hybrid buses, electric trains, diesel-electric ships and wind power generation.

In November 2009, the company announced its involvement in a mild hybrid road car programme with Ricardo, CTG, JCB, Jaguar Land Rover, SKF and Torotrak. The project aims to demonstrate the potential of flywheel- based hybrid systems with the potential for 30 per cent fuel savings (and equivalent reductions in CO2 emissions) at an add on-cost of less than £1000, to enable mass-market uptake of hybrid vehicles in price sensitive vehicle applications.

While all of this has great business potential, the continued development of the WHP’s magnetically loaded composite flywheel (MLC) technology will give William F1 a distinct competitive edge if as some people are predicting KER’s is reintroduced into Formula One.

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