Flywheel energy storage

Imagine storing energy as motion rather than a chemical reaction (like lithium ion or lead acid batteries).

When something is in motion it has kinetic energy. You hear that usually as a reference term in a war game where someone talks about a really big gun and transferring the kinetic energy of the bullet into its target. This is a similar concept, yet have the bullet hit a merry-go-round and the spinning of the merry-go-round produces electricity.

An electric motor and a generator operate on the same principles. The spinning of the magnets and coiled wires either produces electricity, or when electricity is applied to the motor, it causes it to spin. The same motor can have dual functions and serve both purposes.

If you attached a really heavy weight to an electric motor, it would spin the weight. Turn off the motor and the weight is still spinning. Now, that's a heavy weight and if you then wanted electricity, you could use the weight to turn the motor and generate electricity on demand. It will never be a 1 to 1 ratio, but so far, there's not a single battery that can accomplish that today (chemical or kinetic).

There are obviously obstacles that have to be overcome. Things like using magnetic bearings to prevent friction from slowing the weight down. Putting the weight in a vacuum to prevent the weight from slowing down due to air resistance. Both of these are expensive, yet very attainable. Kinetic energy doesn't have the drawbacks of chemical batteries. There are no toxic metals used and the lifespan of the kinetic battery is measured in decades, not months.

here are resources I ran across a while back:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flywheel_energy_storage

http://www.beaconpower.com/products/about-flywheels.asp

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