Flywheel Batteries Come Around Again

Kinetic energy storage will propel applications ranging from railroad trains to space stations

12 min read

What goes around comes around" is not just a popular expression and the title of a Bob Marley song, it is also a good description of what is happening these days with flywheel energy storage. The technology is coming around again after undergoing a round of improvements in materials, magnetic bearing control, and power electronics.

Of course, scientific and technical advances by themselves are not enough to renew interest in a technology, however good it may be. The advanced wizardry must also serve a genuine need. Today's flywheel batteries, which depend on a rotating mass to store energy, score well in both areas: they embody several exciting technological advances, and they are serious contenders for a variety of important energy-storage applications. They are, for example, competitive with chemical batteries in applications like transportation or improving power quality, which involve many charge-discharge cycles and little in the way of long-term storage.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Stephen Welby: A Man on a Mission

The departing executive director steered IEEE through a pandemic and open access publishing

6 min read
A smiling man in a suit and glasses
Brad Trent

In his five years as IEEE’s executive director and chief operating officer, Stephen Welby has led the organization through a global pandemic, a changing publishing landscape, and soaring geopolitical tensions. Welby, an IEEE Fellow, is leaving at the end of the year to spend more time with his family while he explores his career options. The IEEE Board of Directors has named Sophie Muirhead, IEEE's current general counsel and CCO, as his replacement.

Welby directs the daily operations of IEEE and its approximately 1,000 employees. While the IEEE Board of Directors sets the organization’s policies and strategic direction, the executive director’s job is to implement them and provide input about issues affecting the organization’s future.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Robo-Ostrich Sprints to 100-meter World Record

Oregon State University’s Cassie is fastest bipedal robot ever to run the 100-meter dash

2 min read
A robot with two orange ostrich-like legs and no torso sprints along a running track

For a robot that shares a leg design with the fastest-running bird on the planet, we haven’t ever really gotten a sense of how fast Agility Robotics’ Cassie is actually able to move. Oregon State University’s Cassie successfully ran a 5k last year, but it was the sort of gait that we’ve come to expect from humanoid robots—more of a jog, really, with measured steps that didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in higher speeds. Turns out, Cassie was just holding back, because she’s just sprinted her way to a Guinness World Record for fastest 100-meter run by a bipedal robot.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Exploring the Value of Power Modules

Learn how power modules can reduce power supply size, EMI, design time, and solution cost

1 min read
Texas Instruments

In this training series, we will discuss the high level of integration of DC/DC power modules and the significant implications that this has on power supply design.

Watch this free webinar now!

In addition to high power density and small solution size, modules can also simplify EMI mitigation and reduce power supply design time. And thanks to improved process and packaging technology, a power module may even provide all of these benefits with a lower overall solution cost as well.

Keep Reading ↓Show less