Audi: Vorprung Durch Flywheel?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
audi vorprung durch flywheel

This weekend, Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro hits the track at the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Spa, Belgium. Not enough that the race car is powered by a V6 diesel engine. It also uses a flywheel as energy storage. Why should we care? Audi makes noises that this technology could soon show up in production cars.

Says just-auto:

“In the R18, a V6 diesel engine sends drive to the rear wheels, while for the front axle, the energy is electrically recuperated and fed into a flywheel. This can then be returned to the front wheels during acceleration. Of interest here is that Audi has chosen this technology over batteries. Why? According to Wolfgang Ullrich who heads up Audi’s Motorsport division, even the most advanced cells would have been too heavy.”

Ullrich says that this it not just tinkering with race toys:

“I can safely state that the things we’re testing with flywheel energy storage are of interest to our production colleagues too. The combination of different systems is an aspect that will have to be considered in various applications in the future.”

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5 of 21 comments
  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on May 06, 2012

    Not sure I'd want something spinning lightweight and really fast, I'd prefer a bit heavier I think and a bit slower. I've seen this idea on engineering experiments and it seems to work fairly well. Not sure if it can be packaged well so that consumers will accept it. I guess that's the real challenge. Also I'm sure there will be some noise associated with it, I hope they can tune it to a pleasing sound, it's very easy for something like this to cause an annoying vibration and hum, especially after being used for 3-4 years.

  • Jethrine Jethrine on May 06, 2012

    Batteries are heavy... why don't we just spin them? Maybe too close to perpetual motion to even consider.

  • Darkhorse Darkhorse on May 07, 2012

    I remember that after the last Arab oil embargo (circa 1979) there was a lot of interest in flywheel energy storage. Stuntmonkey is correct in that rotational speed trumps mass. I recall they were spinning these to over 100,000 rpm. They were composit wheels and were tested to failure with no breach of the containment device. There's also interest in using flywheels for over night storage of energy generated by solar farms.

  • Rmx Rmx on May 08, 2012

    Am I the only one that is missing the 's' in VorSprung ? Otherwise a good article on a great automotive site.