McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) and Freescale Semiconductor recently announced the decision to collaborate in their efforts to develop next-generation kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) technology. The technology will serve to enhance performance in motor racing and should be used in the highest levels of the sport from 2010 onward.
The new collaborative initiative works hand in hand with the FIA’s recent commitment to not only reducing development costs, but also to supporting increased fuel efficiency, better energy recovery and enhancing competition. It is hoped that more efficient, smaller and lighter hybrid systems will be developed as a result of the initiative in the long run. According to Steve Wainwright, the sales and marketing and general manager as well as vice-president of Freescale EMEA, the “joint KERS development project with McLaren Electronic Systems is on the cutting edge of automotive technology.” Wainwright further went on to say that “As the leader supplier of automotive semiconductors, Freescale can help MES make a difference in their quest for advanced power train control technology and energy-efficient systems. Formula 1 is one of the most exciting and fastest moving laboratories for automotive technology. We will work hard to help ensure that the technologies developed in concert with MES will rapidly find their way into mainstream cars to the benefit of consumers and our automotive customers eager to receive energy-efficient solutions.”
The KERS system is a hybrid braking system that makes use of the kinetic energy produced during the car braking system by storing that energy and making it available for use in accelerating at a later point. This stored energy is released by means of a ‘boost’ button which allows the driver to choose when he may need an extra burst of power for a short period. So, for example, a competitive driver may hit the boost button when they are trying to overtake or if they are defending their position. It is hoped that such technology will not only be more efficient, but that it will also make Formula 1 racing events even more competitive and exciting. Each member of the collaboration will be bringing their expertise to the table in refining this technology. MES will be using its unmatched experience with regards to electronic control unit development as well as years in the motor racing industry. Freescale will be making use of its microcontroller, motor control and power system design expertise.
Some of the most brilliant and dedicated engineers are recruited for motorsport teams. Their knowledge and endless number of plans to increase productivity while decreasing cost, is invaluable to a motorsport team. And it is because of the engineering masterminds that are found here that the industry was approached and challenged with creating fuels that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Alternative fuels are definitely the way forward and realistic planning for the future, and solutions found on the racing circuits of the world, could result in the next fuel at the local gas station.
Because racing cars, and more specifically Formula One cars, are dependent on fuel efficiency, the circuits are the best place to test new and advanced fuels. If a fuel is developed that is more environmentally friendly and is proved to work for Formula One cars, the public will not hesitate to convert to the better fuel. All leading engineers, motorsport industry members and the public are in agreement that exploring non-fossil fuel based products are where the solutions to the fuel efficiency problems lie.
Many racing teams of all divisions have shown an interest in using greener, or environmentally friendly, technology, and with their support, the face of fuel might get the opportunity to evolve and improve. Establishments such as Green MotorSport have joined racing teams in the search and production of renewable energy. Discoveries made on the racing circuit have led to the United Kingdom authorities aiming to have a minimum of five percent of its public vehicles using Bio Ethanol fuel. It might sound like a small percentage, but when looking at vehicle emissions, it would be similar to removing a million vehicles from the public transport system.
Even the most insignificant effort to reduce carbon emissions (which increases Global Warming) is already a positive step towards fuel efficiency and a healthier environment. The less toxic and damaging vapors and fumes that are released into the atmosphere, the greater chance the world has for survival. As the roar of the racing engines fire up for another heart stopping season of innovation, progress and discovery, everyone will be patiently waiting and looking at the motorsport industry for answers to the future of fuel efficiency.