The Slow Flywheel



The most precious resource for the success of any population is energy. Reliable and uninterrupted energy is fundamental to the quality of life. Power infrastructures must continue to keep up with growing demand by either searching for new energy sources to tap from, and/or by improving efficiency transmission and storage of energy.

Developments in fields of energy like gasoline, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear and others continue to be explored, storage of that produced energy will become more and more critical to the energy consumption race.


Classically, energy is produced at a fixed rate specified to the grids peak demand. When the power stations are overdrawnblackouts can occur. Brownouts can be a method to protect the power stations by artificially clipping the supply. A more cultural approach of protecting the grid from over saturation would be curbing users behavior by being more conservative & efficient with electricity usage. This method is limited and can't compete with growing demand alone.


Load Shifting is a more active way of distributing the peak demand for electricity to less active parts of the day. Kind of like a smoothing capacitor or large inductor in a power supply. For power grid infrastructures, energy storage methods are not so easy. Monolithic batteries or other expensive chemistry based methods are required.

A neat concept to entertain are electromechanical flywheel Energy Storage (FES). Heavy rotor flywheels absorb electricity by spinning at high speeds and stored via conservation of energy and can then be returned back to electricity efficiently. Sometimes known as mechanical or inertia batteries. Their energy density is limited by the physical makeup of the flywheel. Their failure mode if spun too fast is a massive explosion. A dangerous yet innovative battery to harness.

As we develop the Cyclone Cable Piston, we entertain some interesting future machines that could not be easily achieved previously. The idea we discussed today was the concept of a Slow Flywheel Energy Storage (SFES). Instead of focusing on developing better materials that can withstand extreme centrifugal forces, the efficient Cyclone Linear Actuator when working in parallel with its self could behave as a incredible gear reduction for a flywheel with much more mass behind it.


Imagine instead of a precision carbon fiber flywheel balanced to perfection, but a 500,000 ton skyscraper made of heavy steel. A flywheel that requires no centrifugal reinforcement. The Cyclone Cable Pistons are efficient linear back driving generators that could take the place of the foundation of that building. When abundant electricity from overnight is applied to the high gear ratio cyclones, the building rises up a meter or so putting the whole building and the Cyclone transmissions itself into potential energy and upon peak power consumption during the middle of the day, the weight of the building back drives the cyclones back down to feed the required electricity back into the grid. Very much like a gigantic capacitor.


A more practical version might go in place of the mass dampeners in the Taipei 101 building. As typhoons and ground movements push the 1,671 ft skyscraper around, a massive pendulum object at the top offsets the swaying to prevent structural damageThe movement of the object is currently being passively dampened dissipating energy as heat, but if made active by Cyclone Cable Pistons, the pendulum can produce usable energy instead of wasted heat during building movements.

Our discussion in architecture sized Cyclone Cable Pistons led to some quick proofing to see how useful an application like this might be.

Assuming a half million ton skyscraper is used as our weight, and 1 meter of travel is idealized with the best of efficiencies, this kind of flywheel battery would be able to supply 45 homes for a day (given that each home consumes 30kWh a day).

An electro-mechanical flywheel skyscraper equates to about 7 tons of nice Lithium-Ion batteries.

A more astounding, and eye opening concept would be that the amount of energy to lift a 500,000 ton skyscraper 1 meter would require about 37.8 gallons of gasoline (if conversion efficiency is also negated). A couple of refills on a suburban SUV could lift a huge skyscraper a meter.

(1) Gasoline is incredibly power dense.

(2) Gasoline alternative is necessary.