Williams F1 today announced that it has acquired a minority shareholding in Automotive Hybrid Power Limited, a company developing high-energy composite flywheels for use in energy recovery systems. AHP has relocated from Norwich to Williams’ headquarters outside Oxford, UK and has been renamed Williams Hybrid Power Limited.
Williams Hybrid Power Limited is developing a flywheel for potential use as the energy storage element of Williams’ kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS), a technology that will be allowed by regulation in Formula One next year. This technology stores kinetic energy generated under braking that would otherwise be dissipated. Williams is exploring a number of energy storage options. The Williams Hybrid Power system is based on a flywheel rotating at speeds of up to 100,000rpm that would capture this energy for later release.
The competitive rigour of Formula One requires quickly deployable solutions to technical problems, as well as ensuring any such solutions are lightweight, robust and high performance. Williams Hybrid Power hopes to build on the Formula One experience to transfer its technology to other types of vehicle.
Patrick Head, Williams F1’s Director of Engineering, said, “High-energy flywheel technology is a challenging field of engineering. We fully support the FIA’s positive initiative in energy recovery systems which we hope will allow Formula One to make some contribution to the development of an environmentally beneficial technology that could help to reduce the carbon emissions of vehicles.”
Ian Foley, Williams Hybrid Power’s Managing Director said, “As AHP, we had begun to develop our own advanced flywheel technology for application in vehicles. As Williams Hybrid Power, we will make use of the higher profile and Formula One development programme to accelerate development and bring it to market more quickly.”