A student from Lancaster University has created a new flywheel device that could provide a valuable boost to renewable energy storage - something that currently poses a problem due to its reliance on battery storage technologies.
Abigail Carson, aged 21, has invented a new Flywheel Energy Store which uses a levitating mass to retain power using kinetic energy. The device is only the size of a football and requires no extra maintenance, inputs or controls to operate.
Carson is now waiting to hear back on a patent application on her device. She explained that the world is experiencing a global energy challenge of urgent proportions and that the new Flywheel Energy Store will be suitable for a broad range of practical applications. These could include energy storage for better energy independence and security across the world, the removal of energy waste in existing power networks, access to cleaner heating and cooking in developing countries, provision of water pumping to remote villages, off-grid power storage and even the flexible charging of electrical vehicles.
The young engineer's device rotates at 144,000 rpm - most other existing designs can typically only reach 60,000 rpm. In its current size, the flywheel will be best suited to domestic applications, but Carson believes that it will be simple to scale up for industrial use by stacking devices together into a larger linked network. This would prevent the output from being compromised if any individual unit or combination of units failed.
The anticipated lifespan of each device is around 30 years - higher than existing technologies for battery storage and without the danger of energy transfer variations. The new device is being heralded as a superb example of a traditional technology being leveraged for modern-day applications.