Low-Cost Flywheel Energy Storage for Mitigating the Variability of Renewable Power Generation

In the past year, the researchers at the Center for Electromechanics at The University of Texas at Austin (UT-CEM) and the Nanotech Institute at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) began research efforts on improved flywheel designs and flywheel materials to meet energy storage requirements for the grid.

UT-CEM’s initial effort focused on determining the power and energy requirements for a flywheel energy storage system at various points on the grid. UT-CEM researchers used real-world data from a newly developed community in Austin, TX to analyze the effect of energy storage at the home level, transformer level, and the community distribution level.

With requirements defined, an optimization code was developed for sizing a flywheel energy storage system for the grid. Results of this optimization are shown for today’s flywheel using conventional materials. In future studies, UT-CEM will incorporate superconducting materials and new material developments from UTD.

UTD’s initial materials development has shown successful fabrication of mechanically functional nanotube yarns and sheet stacks that comprise over 95 wt% of ferromagnetic particles or the MgB2 superconductor.

Their novel method for yarn fabrication (called biscrolling) traps guest particles (presently magnetic nanoparticles or superconductor) in the helical corridors of twist-spun carbon nanotube host. In UTD’s companion method for fabrication of guest-host stacks (birolling), guest particles are deposited on ultrathin (50 nm thick when densified) sheets of the carbon nanotube guest as both are wrapped on a mandrel.

The described results provide birolled sheet stacks containing from 80 to 99 wt% particles or nanoparticles of ferromagnetic Co, Fe, Fe3O4, Ni, or SmCo5. Initial magnetization measurements provided a low coercive field for biscrolled yarn containing as guest 95 wt% of 200 nm chip-shaped SmCo5.
Source: Stanford University

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