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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Breakthrough in Ricardo Kinergy ‘second generation’ high-speed flywheel technology

Ricardo Press release
Aug 22, 2011

The subject of nine Ricardo patent families in application, Kinergy represents a step-change advance in mechanical energy storage technology. It is based on a high-speed carbon fibre flywheel operating within a hermetically sealed vacuum chamber at speeds of up to 60,000 rev/min. But unlike current devices in which energy is imported and exported via a drive shaft operating at flywheel speed, Kinergy transfers torque directly through its containment wall using a magnetic gearing and coupling system. This new breed of high-speed flywheel technology offers the prospect of enabling the unit to be sealed for life, thus avoiding the need for high-speed seals and a vacuum pump, and hence reducing costs and maintenance requirements. The consequent weight and space saving potential provides for a competitive packaging envelope, while the ability of the efficient magnetic coupling to incorporate a high gear ratio makes the input and export of torque significantly more manageable than would be the case in a more conventional direct driven high speed flywheel design.

This first Kinergy prototype has resulted from a fast-track engineering development process intended to deliver the unit that will be at the core of the Flybus high-speed flywheel mechanical hybrid powertrain demonstrator vehicle. Following precise balancing of the flywheel rotor during construction and assembly, the unit was installed on a specially constructed dynamometer for development testing. Successive tests have been carried out at increasing speeds and compared with the results of engineering simulations of performance and efficiency. A major thrust of that development has been the elimination of stray magnetic losses in the coupling, and breakthroughs have been made that are critical to the success of the technology.
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