The Mechanical Battery

  • Published on Nov 14, 2019
  • The Mechanical Battery
    Though more commonly known for its electro-chemical variant, a battery or accumulator is any device that stores energy. Batteries fundamentally allow us to decouple energy supply from demand. But a far lesser known, mechanical based rechargeable battery based on flywheel energy storage or FESS is showing a resurgence of interest.
    The Gyrobus was as an electric bus designed to operate quietly, along short distance, low traffic routes where installing new traditional overhead trolley power wires was not feasible. It was powered by a large 1500 kg flywheel, sealed in a low resistance hydrogen filled chamber, that spins at up to 3,000 RPM.
    The concept of flywheel energy storage, was one of man’s first forms of storing mechanical energy. The potter’s wheel, one of the earliest examples, used the flywheel effect to maintain its energy under its own inertia.
    Using flywheels to convert reciprocating motion to a rotational force would migrate from steam engines into the next evolution of the engine, the internal combustion engine.
    In the early 20th century, when rotor shapes and rotational stresses were thoroughly analysed, and the flywheel was now being considered as a potential energy storage systems.
    Known as FESS or flywheel energy storage systems, much like the system used on the gyro bus, these typically use electricity as the working energy.
    The flywheel speeds up as it stores energy and slows down when it’s discharging, to delivering the accumulated energy. The rotating flywheel is coupled to an electrical motor-generator unit that performs the interchange of electrical energy to mechanical energy, and vice versa.
    Beyond the motor-generator limits, the maximum speed limit at which the flywheel rotor can operate is also determined by the tensile strength of the material it’s made from.
    Because the shape of a flywheel rotor affects its moment of inertia, and inherently it energy storage capacity, how efficiently the mass of the material used is utilized is determined by the shape factor of its geometry.
    Flywheel energy storage system designs generally fall under one of two strategies, low speed flywheel systems that operate under 10,000 rpm and high speed variants that can approach 100,000 rpm.
    Because flywheel energy storage systems usually enclose the flywheel within a vacuum to reduce friction, the primary point of energy loss happens at the bearings that support the flywheel.
    Permanent magnet bearings are passive, stiff, low cost, and suffer from low losses, due to lack of a flowing current but this comes at the cost of having limited stability.
    Active magnetic bearings produce their magnetic field from current carrying coils that control the rotor position. It positions the rotor through a feedback system by applying variable forces which are determined based on the deviation of the rotor position, caused by external forces.
    Superconducting magnetic bearings provide the best solution for high speed flywheel energy storage systems offering compact, friction less, long lasting and stable operation.
    One of the more attractive characteristics of flywheel energy storage systems are their reliability. They can achieve high cycle life spans, easily achieving hundreds of thousands of charge/discharge cycles without degrading.
    Within the limits of current technology, flywheel energy storage systems are more suitable where high bursts of power are needed for a short duration.
    Flywheel energy storage systems are also used at the power grid level, providing an energy storage buffer for balancing sudden changes between supply and power consumption.
    At smaller scales, flywheel energy storage systems have been used where short bursts of power are needed without taxing power supply systems.
    The electromagnetic aircraft launch system on the Gerald R Ford class aircraft carriers also uses this principle.
    The now commercial Flybrid system uses a continuously variable transmission to recover energy from the drive train during braking, into a flywheel.
    NASA has also experimented with lightweight flywheel energy storage systems for spacecraft with its G2 FESS module design.
    With no need for exotic minerals, minimal environmental impact, and unprecedented reliability and longevity, one of man’s oldest energy storage systems may prove to be the key to our energy storage future.

    “Stock footage provided by Videvo, downloaded from”
    Loom Footage
    James Hargreaves - Spin Doctor
    Steam Engine
    1897 Robb Armstrong Steam Engine
    Magnax Axial Flux Permanent Magnet Electric Motor / Generator
    Cisco DC2011-Texas: Flywheels for Backup Power
    Power Line Footage

Comments • 1 002

  • human being
    human being 6 hours ago

    An interesting use of flywheel to store energy in motorsport is the KERS(kinetic energy recovery system)of the Nissan GTR LM. It was planned to have a flywheel that would spin at 60000rpm(47000G of acceleration for the outer edge of the flywheel) encased in a vacuum chamber, it is connected to an epicyclic gearbox which is then connected to the rear wheels. During braking it would spin up, and deliver 700 horsepower when needed.

  • PB&J Racing
    PB&J Racing 13 hours ago

    So a flywheel is like a kinetic caoacitor?

  • bronzedivision
    bronzedivision Day ago

    If only people would put effort into the one solution that will actually work, nuclear power.

  • Collin Smith
    Collin Smith 3 days ago

    Excellent video! Really impressed with the quality of your content and happy to be a new subscriber! 👍

  • chris746568462
    chris746568462 5 days ago

    Flywheel UPS's are good for short duty local backup, but for grid-scale storage, Pumped storage is the best solution. ~75% efficient.

  • DC Allan
    DC Allan 5 days ago

    put cycle pedal in the floor of the bus, link to the flywheel and the passengers can recharge the bus as it travels.

    RUINS MARS 7 days ago

    Hummmm, batteries, interesting how they limit our freedom, but that may be for a reason.

  • Deep Bass
    Deep Bass 7 days ago

    Why not a homopolar generator in a vacuum chamber?

  • Solo Homesteader
    Solo Homesteader 7 days ago

    nice presentation, worth a thumbs up.

  • Joe E
    Joe E 7 days ago

    There is nothing new, Electric elevators have used that principle for over 100 years. The mass of a rotating generator greatly increases the acceleration and deceleration of the system parts. That way one can use low hp. mg sets with heavy rotating parts to give much quicker response times. Also when the load has reversed the motor now becomes the generator. This pushes power back into the grid lowering the buildings power bill..Win win. Guess what I did for 45 years.

  • JG JG
    JG JG 7 days ago +1

    "at this speed the outer edge of the flywheel would be spinning at mach 11"
    This is officially my new favorite energy storage system, I fucking love it

  • Fayanora Ahnabahn
    Fayanora Ahnabahn 8 days ago

    Molten salt is going to be used as a battery for these new AI controlled solar generators. During the day, hundreds or thousands of mirrors controlled by an AI all aim at one spot, making temps up to the same as the surface of the sun. If they use salt, melting the salt with the solar energy, they can maintain heat of about half that temperature overnight, which is more than enough to keep generating power all night long.

  • Aaron
    Aaron 10 days ago

    Fuck pumping water up a hill. Let's just spin shit.

  • Aaron
    Aaron 10 days ago

    That sounds like a bad fucking idea.

  • Filipe Negreiros
    Filipe Negreiros 10 days ago

    "Flywheels would rotat

  • Ruben Kelevra
    Ruben Kelevra 11 days ago

    Fly wheels are good for short durations before something else takes over, thus enhancing grid stability for example. But using a large shaft, like a mine shaft and lowering/lifting very heavy weights are much better because there's no loss in stored energy even if it's stored for days.

  • Rowde
    Rowde 11 days ago

    The fidget spinner that powered busses

  • Morstius
    Morstius 11 days ago

    Flywheel vs solid state batteries? probably depends on the use-case

  • Adam Brown
    Adam Brown 12 days ago

    very cool video, I enjoyed learning, I do however think it is misleading to refer to potential or kinetic storage of energy as a battery

  • Zubair Khan
    Zubair Khan 12 days ago

    An excellent video. Well researched AMD presented in simple terms.
    I hope you follow it up with updates on the technology and daily uses as developments occur

  • Peter
    Peter 12 days ago

    Maybe we can just doom some mythical being to eternally roll rocks up a hill for us,

  • NA NA
    NA NA 12 days ago

    obligatory bitching that solar panel manufacturing is not "renewable" or "sustainable"

  • Baerchenization
    Baerchenization 12 days ago

    Video starts with showing the failed Ivanpah plant as an example of a future with renewables... hmm ;)

  • Eric Wilkes
    Eric Wilkes 13 days ago +1

    Wounder how ceramic pincle point would work on the bottom vertical for a bearing

  • Tammy Hughes
    Tammy Hughes 13 days ago

    Very interesting video.

  • todd prifogle
    todd prifogle 13 days ago

    Automatic transmission Chrysler engineered the 727 GM built the turbo hydrodynamic 400 .
    The unusable range they referred to didn't strike me as proper because there is no unusable range of kinetic or potential energy.

  • Gooper Loper
    Gooper Loper 13 days ago +1

    Still has cost issues compared to other forms of storage long term. The best cost effectiveness by a huge margin is still gravitational energy storage as long as people can like the idea of a towering structure nearby or some hills with gravity trains.
    Could make it look like art. That would actually increase attraction and profit.

    • Ruben Kelevra
      Ruben Kelevra 11 days ago

      Actually UK is looking currently into converting old mine shafts into gravity storages.

  • James Biggar
    James Biggar 13 days ago

    Excellent video.

  • Simon Sozzi
    Simon Sozzi 13 days ago

    Wow! Mutherfuking wow!

  • OES 25
    OES 25 13 days ago

    Norway has 95% of its electricity from hydropower. We store it in dams to last as a battery through the winter when we have snow instead of rain. We even buy cheap night-time wind power from Denmark in order to pump water up, and we make money on it by selling it at higher prices in winter/daytime (Total efficiency of the process is 60-70%)

  • Raj Gill
    Raj Gill 13 days ago

    My favorite mechanical battery is the flywheel kers on a nissan gtr lm nismo

  • STEM Cell Robotics
    STEM Cell Robotics 13 days ago

    The credibility of this video is lost at 1:22 in when it shows a blatantly Photoshopped picture of a table top sized pressure cooker being lifted by a crane to look like a giant battery...

  • Sedan Smith
    Sedan Smith 13 days ago

    I always wondered if the rotating doors on the big buildings were producing energy.

  • WaxingRadiance
    WaxingRadiance 13 days ago

    No, a flywheel connected to a steam engine is there to even out the active torque from the pistons. A crank on a shaft would do the same thing but power transfer would be uneven. Traction engines have them for the same reason, locomotives use the wheel-pairs as the flywheel.

  • John Johnson
    John Johnson 14 days ago

    A flywheel is not a battery

  • james ford
    james ford 14 days ago

    Stagger and stage, layer then blaze

  • Gilberto Cesar Vieira de Rezende

    This concept works best only on BIG stationary systems. For mobiles vehicles (car or planes) batteries (chemical or mechanical) have many problems. If it is a electric powered vehicle the best solution STILL not use batteries AT ALL!! The real solution to usable/reliable electric cars (that not trade air pollution for solid pollution of old batteries carcasses) is the old fossil or bio chemical fuel.
    But in a electric powered car we must install a small, efficient and economic stationary ceramic motor to power up an electrical generator direct to the electric power train.
    No batteries, no recharge and with a regular tank you can go up to 2.000 Km (or more)!!!
    The tech is fairly available is only need to forget this nonsense sell by electric cars makers that electric cars with large and expensive batteries sets are environmental friendly.
    You you see "the solid" pollution when a fleet of hundreds of thousands electric cars will need surely change its entirely set of batteries each 3 or 4 years... Where did the old batteries GO ????
    AS any cellphone battery does, you MUST buy a new one if you plan to use your current cellular model for more than 2 or 3 years...
    With a Tesla car a new set of batteries will not be cheap and simple buy a new one when that happens is not easy as the cellphone...

    P.S. And I bet it will be VERY difficult to sell with a good price an electric car with and old batteries set....

  • Doug Hale
    Doug Hale 14 days ago

    Years ago, large mainframe computers used an MG, a motor generator and flywheel to condition power and provide shutdown power when public power went down.

  • Morpheus x
    Morpheus x 14 days ago

    The centrifugal force is the force which powers planets to revolve around their stars and runs for billions of years in outer space where gravity is non existent .

    • Alepituyo 2019
      Alepituyo 2019 12 days ago

      The gravity does exist very well in outer space. It is gravity that holds planets orbiting the sun or the space station orbiting earth and avoid them to fly away like shoot by a slingshot.
      They seem weightless because they are permanently falling, not because there is not gravity.

  • Rotor Spinny
    Rotor Spinny 14 days ago +1

    Would the busses have trouble turning because of the centrifugal force ?🤷🏻‍♂️

  • Merlinkatamari
    Merlinkatamari 14 days ago

    This is a bad idea tooooo little energy that can be stored

    • redstone craft guy
      redstone craft guy 12 days ago

      @Merlinkatamari Addressing your comment. The amount of energy can be stored is dependent on how big the system is. You can store as much energy as you want if you design a big enough system.

    • Merlinkatamari
      Merlinkatamari 12 days ago

      @redstone craft guy i do that every time xD English is not my native language btw.

    • redstone craft guy
      redstone craft guy 12 days ago +1

      Would it kill you to replace "less" with "little"? Incorrect usage of "less".

  • How Wonderful :)
    How Wonderful :) 14 days ago

    This system has been used in the 60`s and 70`s in mechanical watches but were replaced by the invention of quartz but you must give it a nudge at least once a day!

  • Danta claus
    Danta claus 14 days ago

    Very informative.

  • TheDerekB13
    TheDerekB13 14 days ago

    The main reason these cannot be used in cars is because of safety. Just imagine the amount of energy released in the case of an accident. In my old days when we were doing research several engineers were killed during experiments emulating an accidents scenario. The pieces of the flywheel core went through concrete as if is was butter.

  • Armoring Regret
    Armoring Regret 14 days ago

    The flywheel in the ointment is, how does the electricity get into “the Grid”?

  • Ed Soderlind
    Ed Soderlind 14 days ago

    on the fly

  • Mike Hutchinson
    Mike Hutchinson 14 days ago

    makes me think of a spin bicycle...don't try and stop quick:)

  • Ceri Jones
    Ceri Jones 14 days ago

    Wouldn't a flywheel have an affect on the the directional forces on vehicles, making them resistant to rapid maneuvers.

  • Mechanical Mike
    Mechanical Mike 15 days ago

    I had never heard of a gyro on a bus, but this video sparks some thoughts. First off, what effects the gyro would have on the bus itself, I presume since the flywheel was vertical, it shouldnt have affected steering much, but what about tipping, I would sure think that it would have stabilized the bus from tipping? Does it have less roll while turning? Another thought was - maybe a direct coupling with a clutch through a transmission? Or would the losses through gearing be more than that of a motor/generator and traction motor? Your thoughts?

  • Verum Autmorere
    Verum Autmorere 15 days ago +2

    You forgot to mention the Searle Effect Generator, which is basically a friction-less magnetic mechanical flywheel.

  • jeremiah bohatkiewicz
    jeremiah bohatkiewicz 15 days ago +1

    I wonder how they would perform in space

  • Zach Fox 狐智
    Zach Fox 狐智 15 days ago

    really only make sense for municipal power

  • Robert B.
    Robert B. 15 days ago

    Thank you. That was refreshing to see.

  • Robert Pendzick
    Robert Pendzick 15 days ago

    Built one for my laptop but now I can't walk around corners....
    If enough are built will the earth spin or precession be impacted?
    If you built it carefully could use the earths spin as the flywheel to generate 'free' energy? (could this only be done on the rotational poles of the earth?)

  • Kiréalta
    Kiréalta 15 days ago +1

    We could just use the power of flextape to contain the rotational forces.

  • Anthony Spicer
    Anthony Spicer 15 days ago

    This may be a stupid question as I know nothing about batteries, but since this says that current mechanical batteries can produce large amounts of power for a short period of time, could they be partnered with current (or modified) electric car batteries to allow much faster car charging? Charging speeds are the biggest problem I see with switching to electric vehicles.

  • Balaji Achariya
    Balaji Achariya 16 days ago +1

    Ofcourse it may be a future, later to solid state batteries.

  • Rubiconnn
    Rubiconnn 16 days ago +2

    Wouldn't a magnetic bearing create eddy currents in the flywheel and lead to energy losses? Isn't that the point of a superconductor bearing?

    • redstone craft guy
      redstone craft guy 12 days ago

      If the magnet is nonconductive or made of layer of sheets magnet insulated from each other. It will reduce eddy current losses.

  • TimMcHavoc
    TimMcHavoc 16 days ago

    The M1 series MBT the Abrams use two, maybe three gyroscopes to give it the ability to lock on a target and fire while on the move over most any terrain. At least it happens so fast you wont realize you were vaporized by a sabot round going a mile a second. Now antitank wespons use gyroscopes to hit armor from the top at its weak point.

  • Holy Ravioli
    Holy Ravioli 16 days ago

    Im not sure i would want to ride on a bus with a 3000RPM pool sized flywheel.

    • Holy Ravioli
      Holy Ravioli 15 days ago

      @Hazard Gas is way safer and so are li-on battery's. Have you ever seen even a small flywheel slip off off a bearing? Its terrifying and the thought of something thousands of times heavier is even scarier.

    • Hazard
      Hazard 15 days ago

      Gas is safer? or li-on battery on fire. same stuff