The Department of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to AFS Trinity Power Corp. and WestStart to develop a flywheel as an energy storage device in hybrid electric vehicles.
"Hybrid vehicles will play a major role in the automotive and trucking industries over the next 20 to 30 years. There is plenty of room for improved energy storage," said WestStart's president John Boesel. The flywheel is a high-speed rotating mechanism suspended by magnetic bearings in a vacuum. The low friction allows the flywheel to spin at more than 40,000 rpm to store sufficient kinetic energy to run an auxiliary electric motor in hybrid vehicles, said WestStart.
In a hybrid vehicle, the flywheel provides extra power for acceleration and stores energy that would otherwise be lost to braking. Durable, lower-cost flywheels can help address the energy storage challenges facing electric and hybrid electric vehicles, the company said.