Understanding the Flywheel

Understanding the Flywheel

Every day we see numerous energy devices. Some create energy while others convert or store them. Flywheel too is very common energy producing equipment which is used in many regular electrical as well as mechanical equipment and gadgets. Today, technology offers a variety of options for energy storage with diverse applications. These new technological factors help in the optimization of the way we use, deliver as well as expand the energy. The need is to develop affordable electrochemical energy storing devices in large scale as well as supercapacitors for electrochemical conversions and transportation.

What is a Flywheel?

A flywheel consists of a heavy shaft which is mounted on a rotating disc. This disc absorbs the various spinning and twisting motions and then liberates it as kinetic energy so as to give movement to stationary or semi-stationary objects. Flybird is a type of electrochemical hybrid commonly found and makes use of a flywheel instead of a battery for storing regenerative braking energy. The stored energy is utilized for giving or maintaining the mobility of the vehicle.

How does the Flywheel restore energy?

The energy storage of flywheel is like a mechanical battery which stores kinetic energy in rotating mass form and when required this energy is then converted into electrical energy by using an integrated electric generator of a flywheel. The energy thus created is enough to provide DC energy for UPS in an emergency until a standby diesel generator is attached. When its utility is complete or another power supplier becomes available, it is recharged by connecting to the UPA of DC bus.

Since the energy in the flywheel is stored in rotating mass, it can be derived by the given formula:

E = mMω2

Where M is the flywheel mass, k is based on the mass shape during rotation and ω is angular velocity. The formula shows that energy is in proportion to the sq. of angular velocity. The flywheel rotates at the speeds of 18,500 (fully discharged stage) to 36,000 (fully charged stage) rpm. Due to this generally, a flywheel is used in cases where energy has to be stored with values of higher speed (RPM). Due to this low weight, small footprint and use of complete magnetic levitation are possible. This allows the use of lower weight, smaller footprint and full magnetic levitation of the flywheel mass.

Which are the two different types of Flywheel available in the market?

High-Speed Flywheels and the Low-Speed Flywheels are the two types of flywheels commercially available in the market.

High Speed (RPM) Flywheels: These Flywheels have an angular velocity ranging between 30 to 60krpm with potential limit adjustable up to 100 krpm. These are comparatively lighter so as to satisfy the needs of high power and it stores the energy by high spinning velocity. High-Speed Flywheels come with complete magnetic levitation and lower periodic maintenance. Other attributes include lightweight, small footprints, easy commissioning and easy start-ups as well as shutdown.

Low Speed (RPM) Flywheels: These flywheels have an angular velocity of 10krpm and high power energy requirement of heavy and bulky steel flywheels. It needs maintenance from time to time and the mechanical bearings also have to be replaced regularly. These types of flywheels require specially constructed and specified concrete slab installations and are prone to more parasite energy losses.

What are the uses of Flywheel?

Use of flywheels in mechanical devices helps to smooth the movements that are prone to sudden rapid outbursts. In auto, flywheels are used to keep the power of the engine at even speed. When a flywheel is connected to an electric motor it stores electrical energy in the form of kinetic energy and thus performs the function of a battery. Flywheel batteries last longer than the chemical batteries and hence are nowadays being used more often.

 

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