Sunday 25 September 2011

Battery or Flywheel Hybrid - The Future?

 New Solo EV on Heathrow Service
An Optare Solo EV battery powered bus has entered service at Heathrow Airport where it operates between Terminal 5 and BA Headquarters at Waterside. This is the first electric powered bus to operate at Heathrow where the 25 seater is scheduled to travel between 50 and 60 miles each day.
 The one active Solo EV out of a batch of three, which run
40 and 40A services in Durham
The Solo EV is in use at various locations in the UK, amongst them is Durham, where three vehicles were acquired for the short service linking the Railway station & Coach Park with the Cathedral. 
 Unfortunately the Solos are struggling to achieve the daily mileage required of them and when I visited Durham just over a week ago only one vehicle was in service. One has been returned to Optare and the other vehicle was out of service. A back up diesel powered Solo was sharing the service with the one active Solo EV.

Clearly technology needs to move on before this type of vehicle can be relied upon and on that basis a company called Torotrack has developed a Flywheel Hybrid drive system which is being tested in an Optare Solo. The system uses a Ricardo Kinergy flywheel, which can run at 60,000 revs per minute, to store energy produced from braking. The flywheel is combined with a Torotrack continuously variable transmission system to transfer energy to the road wheels. Initial costings suggest that the system could be available for a fraction of the coast of current hybrid systems and would provide fuel savings of up to 10%.
Flywheel propulsion isn't new to the UK, with two Parry People Movers railcars, which use flywheel technology, having been in service since 2009 on the Network Rail Stourbridge Branch. They have achieved 99.5% reliability and during 2010 they operated almost 70,000 services carrying 465,000 passengers.
 Parry People Mover at Stourbridge

David Gambles