Flywheel energy storage

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Flywheel energy storage (FES) works by accelerating a rotor (flywheel) to a very high speed and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy. When energy is extracted from the system, the flywheel's rotational speed is reduced as a consequence of the principle of conservation of energy; adding energy to the system correspondingly results in an increase in the speed of the flywheel.

Most FES systems use electricity to accelerate and decelerate the flywheel, but devices that directly use mechanical energy are being developed.[1]

Advanced FES systems have rotors made of high strength carbon filaments, suspended by magnetic bearings, and spinning at speeds from 20,000 to over 50,000 rpm in a vacuum enclosure.[2] Such flywheels can come up to speed in a matter of minutes — much quicker than some other forms of energy storage.[2]


Main components

A typical system consists of a rotor suspended by bearings inside a vacuum chamber to reduce friction, connected to a combination electric motor/electric generator.


First generation flywheel energy storage systems use a large steel flywheel rotating on mechanical bearings. Newer systems use carbon-fiber composite rotors that have a higher tensile strength than steel but are an order of magnitude less heavy.[3]

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