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Energy-Recycling Flywheel Technology

Vycon, a company that builds energy-recycling flywheels (like those used in the brakes of a Prius), recently closed a deal worth $13.7 million. The money will ramp up manufacturing of Vycon flywheels for data centers, hospitals, universities, broadcast studios and manufacturing plants, as well as for cargo and rail transportation applications. Vycon will also try to find new uses for the clean energy storage technology.

Vycon’s flywheel works by storing energy that traditionally goes unharvested, such as the down cycle of cranes or the braking of vehicles. The flywheel harnesses this energy and then delivers it in DC form, making it a very reliable and less problematic storage device than batteries. The heart of the system, the hub and rotor, is said to last 20 years without maintenance. The flywheel also helps reduce emissions and fuel consumption in certain applications. The technology can even be used in conjunction with wind turbines to smooth out the always-variable power output of intermittent wind.

Vycon was formed in 2002 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Calnetix Inc., but spun-off in 2003, allowing Vycon to focus on the product line and acquire funding to support a more focused approach. It was also rather nice (and a bit surprising) of Calnetix, which granted all rights to this invention to Vycon royalty-free.

This is rather interesting technology. How this young company will fare into the future is hard to tell, but how well an improved storage device for energy will fare is easy to imagine. The renewable industries have long sought a more reliable and efficient means for storing energy, and perhaps this could be it. With another $13.7 million dollars to use, we all may be seeing a great deal more of these flywheels in the future.

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