Flywheel Batteries

This commentary comes from Michael "Would like wonna them 800hp, tire smokin, green cars" Cavelero in ???:

From: "Cavelero, Michael"   
To: "''" 
Subject: NC flywheel batteries (was: HP/Torque Loss?)
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 13:22:55 -0700

Agreed.  Solar is the truly free energy source.  This is kinda an off
the list topic, so feel free to shut me up.  That said . . .

Have you guys ever heard of flywheel batteries?  'bout 2-3 years ago, I
read an article in Discover magazine.  Outstanding article, if you care
to dig it up.  It was on the front page, shouldn't be too hard to find.
A researcher was employed by NASA some 50 years ago to develop a
reliable power source for space suits.  From what I remember, this was
the first large scale application of flywheel batteries.

A flywheel battery is a battery that stores mechanical energy in the
form of a rotating flywheel, instead of electrical energy.  The two
biggest obstacles to overcome are storing enough energy in a flywheel to
be useful, and making it mechanically efficient enough not to bleed off
it's own energy due to friction, etc.

Since the NASA space suit application, this researcher, (I'll call him
Mr. Johnson, just to make it easier.  BTW, that was the name of my high
school physics/calculus teacher, thus I thought it was a good fit) went
on to start his own company developing and producing flywheel batteries.
 They were subsequently used in many power applications, like electrical
generation plants, etc.

After many years, he felt he was making real progress and sought outside
investors.  These investors eventually ruined the research potential of
the company, so Mr. Johnson left, and formed ( I believe) American
Flywheel Co. with his son.  Since his previous Co. held the rights to
all of his designs and ideas, he started from scratch.  Turns out, this
was the best thing that happened, as he was nearly at a dead end,

Two very important developments came out his new research.  The first
was perfecting a magnetic bearing.  Previously, you could use a regular
bearing that would protect a rotating shaft during touchdown (contact of
the two surfaces), or you could have a magnetic bearing that suspended a
shaft, but both were destroyed during touchdown.  Standard bearings
weren't efficient enough to be practical, and magnetic bearings had too
many limitations for applications like automotive.  What happens if you
hit a pot hole, and the bearings touch down.  He managed to make a
bearing that was very adept at both.  Also, his new bearings did a
superior job of magnetic suspension compared to his old bearings, and
made touchdowns almost non-existent.

The second breakthrough was the material the flywheel was made out of.
Consider taking a 50lb flywheel, apprx 1' in diameter and spinning it up
to 100,000 RPM.  First off, most materials can't handle that type of
RPM.  Secondly, any material that had previously been researched, if it
did fracture, it became a projectile that could do incredible damage.
The casing that had to be constructed to retain the fragments, in the
event of destruction, was massive, expensive, and very heavy.  All
undesirable properties.

Through the use of today's supercomputers, and computer modeling, Mr.
Johnson came up with a new way to spin (I think) carbon fiber and apply
the resin that holds it together.  The important properties of a
material are strength and weight.  See, the flywheel material must be
sufficiently dense.  If not, to create the same mass, the flywheel
structure must be larger.  The larger the flywheels radius, the faster
it's linear velocity at the outer edge, and the lower it's ultimate RPM
range before it fractured.  Also, it's strength additionally dictated
how large it could be for the same reasons.  This new process of carbon
fiber construction created an optimum material for strength and density.
 Also, it had an outstanding property.  It didn't fracture at high RPM,
it just unspooled and came apart.  No projectile, no massive, heavy,
expensive retaining case required.

He also has created very efficient generator/motors that transform
mechanical and electrical energy back and forth.

So, unlike chemical batteries, flywheels don't wear out, and don't have
any hazardous waste upon disposal.  About the only maintenance issue is
the motor/generators.  He has a model for a flywheel battery car.  It
stores enough power to have a reasonable cruising range, like 250 miles,
and can deliver an instantaneous 800hp.  Keep in mind, this would be a
vehicle that can dynamically vary the output to each of 4 driving
wheels, and could provide computer optimized perfect traction control.
The benefits are too numerous to list.

Hopefully, by this point, you're asking yourself "If this technology is
so great, how come we aren't using it."  Well, that was the question
that the article was intended to provoke.  It's not like flywheel
batteries, and electric motivation are foreign, they've both been around
for decades.

Matter of fact, as of 3 years ago, Chrysler had a prototype hybrid car
that utilized a high efficiency diesel engine, coupled with flywheel
batteries.  Guess whose flywheels they used.  The flywheels produced by
Mr. Johnson's former company.  The flywheel designs he concluded were a
dead end a decade prior.

But do you think any of the major automotive manufacturers will look at
his new technology?  Now, I normally consider Discover magazine to be
pretty darn conservative.  Basically, they left the impression that this
technology was too good.  I can't say I've researched this on my own,
but this article made a very strong argument towards the automotive
industry shunning this technology.  It certainly piqued my interest.

. . . does it kinda make ya wonder?

Michael "Would like wonna them 800hp, tire smokin, green cars" Cavelero

Thanks for the info, Mike. I enjoyed reading it. Found - looks like the company you were talking about (Dr. Post, not Dr. Johnson ;^D).

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