Kinetic Energy recovery system or KERS was first introduced in 2009. The system was first used by Ferrari, Mclaren and BMW Sauber (now Sauber-Ferrari). In 2010, FIA banned KERS but was reintroduced in 2011 and is now being used by most of the teams.
The KERS recovers kinetic energy generated during the braking process and stores it in a battery pack. This energy is converted to power as and when driver pushes the KERS button.
There are two types of KERS system:
1. Electrical KERS System(Battery)
2. Mechanical KERS System(Flywheel)
The Mechanical KERS system was invented by the Williams F1 team and is a more efficient system.
Functioning of Electrical System:
The electrical system uses a Motor Generator which is present in the car to convert Mechanical energy to electrical energy. This energy is stored in a battery pack and is released when the driver pushes the button.
You may have often heard the commentators speaking of the small KERS unit present in the Red Bull. Basically, it is the battery pack which is small while the Mercedes have a bigger battery pack and so can store more energy and this results in more power.
Functioning of Mechanical System
The Mechanical system does not involve change in state of energy, that is conversion of Mechanical energy into Electrical energy. Instead, the energy from the brakes is used to turn a small flywheel which can spin upto 80,000 rpm.When the driver pushes the KERS button the flywheel gets connected with the rear wheels of the car thus providing more power.
This system is more efficient as it does not involve conversion of energy states which means the amount of energy lost during conversion is preserved.
Energy Provided by KERS unit: According to current FIA regulations, teams are allowed to generate extra 80 bhp using the KERS system. Use of KERS system can gain upto 0.1 to 0.4 seconds per lap which is quite a large margin considering the competitiveness of the current season.
Use Of KERS in Road Cars:
The use of KERS is not limited to Formula 1 cars as some big brands such as Porsche have used the system in their road cars as well as in other racing categories such as Le Mans. KERS, also known as regenerative braking, is one of the most widely discussed topics in various engineering colleges and automobile companies and has great uses in other fields as well.
This clearly demonstrates that Formula 1 innovations can benefit mankind as a whole.