Our electricity needs are becoming more and more complex, and the diversifying applications in plants are looking for solutions that will ensure reliable uninterrupted power. Battery backup solutions have long been present, but they bring certain challenges. First of all, their bulky volume takes up the property and they are also high-maintenance, requiring an environment with controlled temperature. Their life expectancy is sensitive to how often they are cycled and even the slightest temperature changes, which often results in a shorter lifespan than predicted. Plants with frequent interruptions know this all too well.
Plant managers are turning towards kinetic energy storage system as a clean and dependable alternative to battery-based uninterruptible power systems. Kinetic energy storage system is also known as quantum energy storage system and the technology is often referred to as flywheel. Whether kinetic energy storage system is introduced in a new structure or it’s a retrofit, it maximizes the facility and process continuity while simultaneously reducing operative costs. On top of being able to smooth out power sags and peaks, it is an ecologically friendly solution.
The Technology in a Nutshell
Flywheel is a mechanical storage system which transforms electrical energy into kinetic energy by rotating a certain mass at a very high speed. The energy is stored until necessary and its amount is determined by the mass and the number of rotations.
The advantages of flywheel technology are copious. The flywheel doesn’t require any special facility placement and it can tolerate a wide range of temperatures during operation. It has high power density with a small footprint. This quiet solution involves simple maintenance and installation and allows for future expansion of the system. It responds very quickly (in less than 50 milliseconds) and it can have seismic rating options. The total ownership cost for flywheel technology is low, especially when you take into account that its efficiency of more than 85% will serve for 20+ years.
Energy is recycled when the energy which would be wasted is converted into usable electricity or thermal energy. Common recycling technologies in use are combined heat and power generation and waste heat recovery, among others. However, kinetic energy storage system can bring similar efficiency while being much more cost-effective.
The U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency have carried out studies showing that energy recycling could satisfy almost 40% of our energy needs, whereas one third of that recycling can be done through kinetic energy storage system. Other energy storage systems, such as ultracapacitators and batteries also have advantages, but flywheel technology undoubtedly has most overall benefits.
Kinetic energy storage system is an ideal solution for industrial plant when combined with a UPS. Its high power density property with a small footprint protects perfectly against disturbances like voltage spikes and blackouts. In all that time, flywheels can tolerate temperatures up to 60 degrees Celsius for around 20 years, whereas batteries are sensitive to temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius.
Repetitive Industrial Applications
Pulse power applications like punch presses and auto-insertion equipment require continual high power bursts from the grid. This is usually paid through premiums that guarantee the availability of such power feed. With a rapid response time of under 50 milliseconds, a flywheel goes on cycling with high power bursts. Batteries can also shave peaks but at the expense of valuable space and equipment size.