“SIAOESUF” - Studies into aspects of energy storage using flywheels

06 September 2018

Project coordinator:

Wei Xu

Huazhong University of Science and Technology


Project partners:

Aly Ferreira Flores Filho

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul


David G. Dorrell

University of KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa

Funding agencies:

CNPq (Brazil), MOST (China), NRF (South Africa)


With modern power systems and uninterruptable power supplies, there is a need for alternative energy storage solutions with higher levels of power delivery and energy storage. Energy can be stored in kinetic form using flywheels. Traditional flywheels are high-inertia slow-speed units whereas modern flywheels are high strength composites with low inertia and high speed rotation. The suspension and control of the wheel is difficult and energy losses due to friction and windage needs to be minimized. Vacuums can be used to reduce air friction and magnetic bearings can be used to reduce bearing friction. Superconductors can be used for levitation. The electro-mechanical energy conversion unit has to have high efficiency; the use of permanent magnet machines is often advocated. Super conducting machines can also give high efficiency conversion. 

This project brings together an experienced team in magnetic levitation, energy conversion design and superconducting applications to look at improvements in the design of a modern flywheel. It is possible to combine the levitation and energy conversion in a bearingless machine. For suspension, it is possible to use superconductors. These two points will be addressed in the project. The team is spread between China, Brazil and South Africa (Xu, Flores and Dorrell are principle investigators on respective proposals; others who will join the team).