Flywheel Energy Storage: Balancing the Grid & Winning Le Mans

Speaker:  Don Bender, CTO, Helix Power

About the talk: What technology is used to balance the grid in real-time, move cargo with some of the world’s largest container cranes and win Le Mans with Audi LMP1s?  Yes, advanced flywheel energy storage solutions. They have been under development for over 20 years, using composite or metal rotors running at extremely high speed in a vacuum to store energy. They have unique engineering challenges such as thermal management of high power motors running in a vacuum. Advanced flywheels are finding increasing use for backup power and frequency regulation. The high power and high cycling ability of these machines make them a superior energy storage solution for difficult applications ranging from grid storage to mining to material handling to high end motor sport. Don will review the applications for advanced flywheels, the challenges in engineering a flywheel system, and the developers active in the field today. Some examples Don will discuss include Grid Storage and Regulation, the Beacon Power frequency regulation plants, container cranes using Vycon flywheels, and the Le Mans winning Audi LMP1s that use Williams Hybrid Power flywheels.

About the Speaker: Mr. Bender is the CTO at Helix Power Corporation where he is the architect for the company’s new 1MW flywheel system. Previously Mr. Bender served as CTO of AFS Trinity Power where for 17 years he directed flywheel development for numerous industry and government clients in applications ranging from grid-connected energy arbitrage to energy recovery for Formula 1 racing. As one of the leading global technologists in the field, Mr. Bender’s flywheel designs hold records in areas including tip speed and power density. He is the author of the definition of “Flywheel” for the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Energy. Earlier, Mr. Bender was an Engineering Group Leader in the Laser Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Mr. Bender holds BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.


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