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Williams F1 and Kinetic Traction Systems partner to advance composite flywheel energy storage technology for rail and grid applications

Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited (Williams F1) and Kinetic Traction Systems, Inc. (KTSi) have signed a long-term cooperation Agreement to advance and promote innovative, clean flywheel-based energy storage and recycling systems for mass transit rail and grid applications.

Originally intended for use in the Kinetic Energy Recover Systems of its racing cars, Williams F1’s subsidiary, Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) has developed high-performance, lightweight mobile flywheel energy storage systems. These incorporate its patented Magnetic Loaded Composite (MLC) technology which gives the systems their high cycling ability and high-power characteristics. WHP’s mobile flywheel systems have been successfully applied in applications such as the Porsche 911 GT3 R hybrid. (Earlier post.)

KTSi’s proprietary stationary GTR flywheel systems, which leverage WHP’s MLC technology, capture braking energy of trains to increase performance, reduce electrical energy consumption, and lower carbon emissions for metro transit agencies around the globe.

The cooperation agreement will see Williams F1 market and support KTSi’s GTR flywheel systems in the rail and electrical grid sectors under its own brand in Europe, the Middle East and India. The two companies will work to globally promote composite flywheel technology.

The co-operation will also see further development and enhancements to the GTR undertaken by Williams F1’s energy storage team based at the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar. Complementing the GTR and using common technology, the Qatar-based team is currently developing a larger stationary MLC-based flywheel energy storage system that will offer particular energy and power characteristics broadening the range of applications in the rail and electricity grid sectors that can benefit from flywheel energy storage.

This co-operation combines Williams F1’s capabilities and experience with flywheel design and development with KTSi’s technology and experience with stationary systems for the rail and electric grid market. With both companies commercializing flywheel energy storage based on common MLC technology, aligning our engineering, development and marketing makes sense.

—Alex Burns, CEO of Williams F1


Henry Gibson

Flywheels are an alternative to high rate batteries and can also protect batteries from life shortening high power loads.

Flywheels combined with small generators can start and move electric rail vehicles into stations at very slow speeds. Or as in Parry People Movers larger engine powered generators and flywheels could continue limited service during power outages as happened in San Diego California recently. Capstone turbines for rail vehicles are more expensive than diesel generators but require almost no maintenance and no lubrication or cooling systems.

A small number of flywheel locomotives were operated for freight trains on third rail systems near London England during and after WWII. They were more cost effective than steam locomotives before diesel locomotives were common. Also diesel fuel was very difficult to get at first. The flywheels could start the train out of stops in the gaps required for switches in third rail systems. Electric locomotives with small diesel engines have replaced them. But a very clever and efficient traction motor voltage control system was available with the flywheels and still could be used with diesel engines.

It is not certain that high energy density flywheels are cost effective, but certainly Parry has demonstrated that flywheels can save much energy in the operation of transport systems.

There were some flywheels installed decades ago on some New York City underground trains. Washington DC underground trains and others could use flywheels to operate single car trains through the electric rail gaps. EFFPOWER bipolar high power batteries are also an option.

Artemis hydraulic hybrid technology is very efficient, and the energy stored in fluid bladder air tanks may be larger per pound of graphite fibre than that stored in the graphite fibre of flywheels. The power delivery of air tanks can be made very much higher than that of electric generators, and I do know how to make some of the fastest and highest power electric motors and generators that can be made. ..HG..

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