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View Diary: Green Light!  Flywheel Energy Storage (228 comments)

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  •  I don't see this technology (5+ / 0-)

    being put into cars , if that is what you are saying .

    "He who owns little is little owned." HDT

    by indycam on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:34:35 AM PDT

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    •  I think it already is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rolfyboy6, maybeeso in michigan

      Isn't that how most hybrids work? You brake, the energy is transferred to a flywheel to recharge the battery. Gas engine kicks in, and it does the same thing.

      Not totally sure, but I thought that was the principle.

    •  Probably not in cars, but useful for cars anyway (18+ / 0-)

      The principal advantage of flywheels is energy density.  With batteries, if you want more energy storage you add more batteries and add a proportional amount of weight.

      OTOH, if you spin a flywheel twice as fast you get 4 times the energy storage, with no weight gain to the flywheel.

      Flywheels are limited by three things: air friction (hence the vacuum), bearing friction (hence magnetic bearings), and strength of materials (hence carbon filaments).  There is also a huge safety concern: if the flywheel becomes unstable and it's made of brittle material, it can easily shatter and send shards of flywheel through its housing and anyone standing nearby.  Thus you need a very solid housing, which is way too heavy for automobiles.

      OTOH, you could have a dandy garage flywheel that stores energy from your solar panels while you're at work, and then recharges your car overnight.  Or your utility company -- if it's working in the public interest -- could buy your solar energy during the day and store it in a central flywheel facility to cover peak loads.

      Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
      Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

      by Caelian on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:48:07 AM PDT

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      •  You don't even need solar (12+ / 0-)

        You can just spin up the flywheel when the power is cheaper, then run from it, or even sell back to the utility at peak demand times. A network of decentralized load-balancing flywheels optionally coupled with residential-scale solar or wind generators could go a long way to reducing the need for new power plants, while also making the grid more robust.

        •  Why don't we start building them? (5+ / 0-)

          I suppose we'll have to have prototypes and a three year study and a grant application process, by which time China or Germany will have cornered the market.

          "Just because I'm skinny doesn't mean I'm not tough" --Barack Obama, Oct. 26, 2009

          by Pangloss on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:50:17 AM PDT

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        •  Great idea! We're going to need to make the grid (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Andrew C White, Sandino

          more robust and more decentralized. Many avenues of energy collection, many resources entering the grid, no more dependence on one monster power plant per region.

          I'm also really liking the idea of

          a dandy garage flywheel that stores energy from your solar panels while you're at work, and then recharges your car overnight.

          Not that I have an electric car yet. Or a garage. Or solar panals. Or a roof to put them on. But I can scheme.


      •  The secret essential ingredient.... (7+ / 0-)

        an electric utility working in the public's interest!!!  Combine that with a PUC and state legislature that aren't in the pockets of those utilities and you have a simple, cost-effective alternative to more polluting power plants consuming less coal, natural gas and imported oil.

        Does anyone really believe any of these criminals are going to allow this to happen?

        "Never let up. Crush bigotry and greed."

        by LouisMartin on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:53:42 AM PDT

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      •  Another flywheel in the car ointment... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, aaraujo
        Flywheels spin at very high speeds.  When a car experienced sudden acceleration or deceleration (i.e. an accident) the flywheel experiences a force that can easily shoot it out the side of the car at high speeds - not a particularly safe concept.

        I had never heard of the idea above, but it makes perfect sense, though the flywheel is really acting as a battery, not a generator.  

        I'm not sure what they mean by using mechanical means to store energy in the flywheel, though I could see it from either wind, water, or wave power...even then the translation of the mechanical energy from the source to the flywheel would be difficult to make efficient unless it is translated via electricity/magnetism...

        New favorite put-down: S/he's as dumb as a flock of Sarah Palins

        by sleipner on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:13:13 PM PDT

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        •  Uh... (12+ / 0-)

          It's not the acceleration or deceleration, but any changes in orientation.

          These things are gyroscopes, with enormous amounts of momentum.  If they're not gimbaled, re-orienting the spin axis requires huge torques and causes re-orientation in directions other than the applied torque.

          Mechanical means that there's a physical, material connection between the flywheel and the outside.  This requires gear up/gear down transmissions to add and extract power from the flywheel, and lots of concomitant complexity.  High speed flywheels also generally fly in a vacuum, and maintaining mechanical power linkages through a gimbaled vacuum container is "interesting".

          Magnetic coupling is much easier, but also has handicaps.  Energy then goes in and out electrically, but requires high-power, variable frequency converters to generate the magnetic fields to spin up/down the flywheel.  There's substantial tradeoff involved in maximum power (good for acceleration and recharge time) and efficiency.

          Finally, carbon fibre/fibreglas is a material-of-choice for a flywheel for a few reasons.  Firstly (and perhaps surprisingly) is energy density.  You want the strongest material possible, and also you want a light material.  Energy goes with 1/2 * m * v^2, where wheel stresses go with m * v.  So lighter materials let you spin faster and store more energy.  Secondly, metal wheels tend to fail mechanically into large chunks.  Fibreglas tends to shred itself in destruction, making it easier to contain.

        •  By "mechanical means" (3+ / 0-)

          they are just refering to the flywheel itself as a mechanical device.

          The energy itself both enters and exits the flywheel unit as electricity, not mechanical energy.

          The Right lost the Culture War 40 years ago, but are just starting to realize that fact now

          by offgrid on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 02:17:26 PM PDT

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      •  Moving flywheels have a problem... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... when they are heavy enough and spin fast enough to have a gyroscopic effect.

        You think engine torque during acceleration is an issue...

    •  two problems with car flywheels (12+ / 0-)
      1. They require heavy-duty safety housing. An exploding flywheel can destroy the car, just like an exploding gas tank (anyone who has hung around serious car racing has seen a crankshaft flywheel blow holes in a transmission, and that's a TINY flywheel by comparison).
      1. Flywheels are gyroscopes. Put enough power in one, and it affects the car's handling. Put in even more power, and it will dominate handling.

      Why call it the "liberal media"? Because they think liberals are cowardly morons, and the media fits that description.

      by Orbital Mind Control Lasers on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:32:34 AM PDT

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      •  I had a friend who looked into some of this (9+ / 0-)

        back in the early 70s as part of an engineering class. One idea for containing the flywheel pieces in an explosion would have been to use a curved shield to deflect the pieces downwards into the ground (hopefully not while in a multi story parking garage, lol) to make a much lighter weight safety assembly. However, the momentum transfer into the car would have been sufficient to give it enough velocity to shoot it hundreds of feet into the air, or alternatively to cut a nice neat ring shaped hole in the car as the ring went thousands of feet into the air. Kind of gives an idea of how much energy we're storing to get a car to go a useful distance, doesn't it.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:52:07 AM PDT

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    •  Probably not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aaraujo, billmosby

      But even so, google "Gyrobus".

      Warning: Erwin Schroedinger will kill you like a cat in a box. Maybe.

      by strandedlad on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:47:44 AM PDT

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      •  Another memory jog- (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aaraujo, BobTrips, allep10

        One company actually did put a flywheel into a double decker London bus back in the early 60s to store and reuse braking energy as a test. They had the flywheel mounted on gimbals. It worked well, as I recall, but wasn't used commercially.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:53:54 AM PDT

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    •  Decades ago this was used in Switzerland (0+ / 0-)

      For busses in hilly roads

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 07:22:15 PM PDT

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