12 May 2019
Silverstone Park-based Flybrid is emerging as a leader in the development of the latest hybrid energy storage solutions following investment from world renowned automotive powertrain manufacturer Punch.
The business has undergone a major restructure in the past 18 months with one of its original engineers and later Commercial Director Tobias Knichel being appointed Managing Director.
Under his leadership significant investment from Belgian company Punch – a global supplier of powertrains to vehicle manufacturers – has been attracted.
Swiftly this has led to Flybrid’s famed hybrid flywheel knowledge being applied to a broad range of markets.
Tobias commented: “We recently had been focusing our technology predominantly on the heavy duty off-highway market; Punch’s investment allows us to also offer flywheel solutions in further markets.
“By combining our flywheel energy storage module with electric motors, sourced from volume production suppliers, we are able to create a very effective hybrid-electric vehicle technology.
“It’s always about optimising the powertrain, no matter what the energy source is or what application is targeted. The flywheel is very good at dealing with the dynamics of a duty cycle meaning you can focus the main powertrain around a narrow, optimised operating range. This significantly improves the efficiency.”
Although Punch is based in mainland Europe, Tobias says it values keeping Flybrid’s hybrid technology at Silverstone Park.
Tobias added: “Punch realises that advanced engineering in the UK is really strong and, in particular, here in this region around Silverstone.
“All our key engineers live in this area – you cannot simply transport that expertise to another set of engineers in another country. Here is ideal for the type of work we are doing and the customers we are serving.
“Being part of the Punch Group, we now can combine the excellent facilities and proven volume production expertise of Punch in mainland Europe with our key knowledge here in the UK.”
Punch’s considerable clout among the automotive industry also gives Flybrid’s technologies greater marketing reach and added credibility.
This has led to several more exciting new projects that are set to be as equally ground-breaking as those that the company pioneered a decade ago. These included the first full power Formula One KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) and the first ever hybrid-powered car to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race.
“We are now working on a project called TIGER – transmission integrated energy recuperation,” continued Tobias.
“This uses one of our hybrid flywheel systems integrated into a Punch transmission – it’s an attractive offering for OEMs because it’s a finished hybridised transmission product so a complete package for them.
“As Punch Flybrid we have two main areas of focus: Firstly, the heavy duty market where there is a huge opportunity to improve the efficiency for machines that generate big powers and that are operated for long periods in demanding duty cycles.
“Our first product in this market is our 600 Series modular flywheel energy storage system which is applicable for a variety of machines; from generator sets to city buses to excavators and more.
“And in parallel we are making progress on the automotive side of things. We have always had an expertise in low volume applications – motorsport, special one-off designs and demonstrators. But now, for the first time in our history, Punch gives us the route to go into volume production with our technologies.”
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