Collaborative R&D Competitions

GKN – Gyrodrive

The GKN Hybrid Power flywheel is an electric flywheel, storing energy mechanically in a high-speed carbon rotor. This novel technology cut its teeth in top-flight endurance racing, helping to power Audi’s R18 e-Tron Quattro to four successive Le Mans 24-hour race podiums. The APC ‘Gyrodrive’ project, which closed in September 2017, sought to develop and test this technology for use in the Hybrid bus market.

Along with an operational fleet of 35 buses with the Gyrodrive technology in service, the work carried out during the project has resulted in increased skills, capability, additional collaboration for all partners and the development of the next generation of Flywheel (Mark 10)

Examples include:

  • 14 Research Assistants involved with the project from the University of Coventry, of which 7 have now successfully migrated into Industry roles
  • Additional test capability, including a new acoustic test cell
  • Valuable collaboration with the UK engine manufacture, which has expanded both GKN’s and the engine manufacture’s capability and global credibility in Hybrid energy distribution
  • A ‘Mark 10’ design enabling a 1 kWhr, 120 kW, Flywheel energy storage system that can be manufactured for mass market

The benefits of the additional design, aside from the manufacturability, is the potential cross sector exploitation, some of which are already under way. These include working with the UK MOD on Military and Marine applications. Field testing has already been completed on machinery in the agricultural technology sector.

One of the predominant success of the project is the growth of the SME, iNetic. Based in Andover, the business has more than doubled in size as a result of the project. In the first two years of the project they doubled their turnover, from £1m to £2m, and are on track to reach £3m this year. Along with an increase in turnover, they have expanded their workforce to meet the growing business. This expansion has included 8 high level engineering roles and 2 production roles. One of the key new capabilities developed through the project is in electromagnetic modelling and specifically the ability to combine electromagnetic motor design with thermodynamics. These supplementary skills are driving additional growth into the business.