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# Chapter 2b: Flywheels

## Chapter 2b Flywheels (Revision 3.0, 23/2/2010)

1. Introduction A flywheel is a wheel that is fitted to a shaft to increase its inertia. Flywheels are needed for two reasons: 1. Reducing shock and vibration: A flywheel can act like a capacitor in an electrical circuit where it can filter out ripples in voltage. Flywheels can reduce the effect of mechanical shock. 2. Storage of energy: A flywheel can be used to store energy to be used later on1. For example, let us say that the electrical supply is sometimes lost for 2-3 seconds, using a flywheel can continue supplying energy during that interruption. The kinetic energy (in Joules) stored in a flywheel is equal to

angular velocity in rad s-1. Figure 1 shows an example of flywheel that has been fitted to the high speed shaft of a motor-gearbox assembly that is driving a heavy duty escalator. The flywheel is in fact in two halves to facilitate fitting and removal. It is used in this case to reduce the difference in mechanical braking between stopping distances under no-load and fullload scenarios.

1 I 2 . 2

## Where I is the moment of inertia (mass) in kg m2 and is the

There are in fact commercial products on the market that can be used for storage of energy. These consist of a flywheel in a vacuum that can be connected to the electrical supply via a alternator. The flywheel rotates at high speed in the range of 30 000 rpm and uses a magnetic bearing to reduce frictional losses.

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives

Figure 1: Flywheel added to the high speed shaft (Escalator number 3 at Colliers Wood Underground Station), London Underground, London, UK.

In some cases the flywheel is much smaller and in effect is only used as hand-wheel (to rotate the shaft when needed). An example from a lift machine is shown in Figure 2.

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives

Figure 2: Small fly-wheel used as a hand-wheel for a lift machine (Lift number 13, Lehman Brothers, 1 Broadgate, London, UK).

Other examples of the use of flywheels to store energy is that used in cutting and folding machine for metallic sheets (Figure 3) and in space applications (Figure 4).

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## Figure 4: NASA G2 flywheel.

2 Calculation of the Inertia of a Flywheel Flywheels are used extensively on many drive systems especially where a variable speed drive has not been used (e.g., two speed and single speed lift installations). They help reduce the shock of initial staring, and the value of initial acceleration. They also reduce the variations between full load and no load. In this section we discuss the method of calculating their inertia.

W a R1 R2

Section AA

## Figure 5: Three angle projection of a flywheel.

A diagrammatic representation of typical flywheel is shown in Figure 5. If we take a thin slice of an annular ring, at a distance x from the centre of the flywheel and of thickness dx, the moment of inertia for it is:

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives

[ 2 ( x dx ) W ] x 2 = 2Wx 3 dx
To obtain the total moment of inertia, we need to integrate for x between R1 and R2, giving us the important result:
R2

x4 W 2 Wx dx = 2 W = R 2 4 R14 1 2 4 R1 R
3

R2

A special case is for a cylinder, where R1 is zero. EXAMPLE 1 A flywheel if manufactured with R2= 200mm= 0.2m and R1= 150mm= 0.15m, W= 30mm. If it is manufactured from Aluminium, calculate its inertia. [Density for Aluminium is 2720 kg m-3]. SOLUTION Using the formula above, and keeping all dimensions in kilograms and metres, gives:

IF =

2720 0.03
2

(0.2

0.154 ) = 0.14 kg m 2

EXAMPLE 2 Repeat Example 1, if the flywheel was: (a) Completely solid. What do you notice? (b) Made of carbon-steel. SOLUTION (a) Using the same formula, we can substitute a value of zero for R1:

IF =

2720 0.03
2

(0.2

0 4 ) = 0.205 kg m 2

Notice that making the flywheel solid, has only added 0.06 kgm2, which is 42% of the original inertia. This shows how most of the inertia lies in the rim, and thus all flywheels are manufactured by concentrating the mass in the outer rim. (b) The density of carbon steel is 7850 kg/m3. Substituting in the formula gives:

IF =

7850 0.03
2

(0.2

0.154 ) = 0.404 kg m 2

As the density of steel is three times that of Aluminium, the moment of inertia can be increased for the same size of flywheel, in applications which require so.

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives

As mentioned earlier, a flywheel sometimes acts as both a flywheel and a handwheel. Where modern variable speed drives are used (e.g., variable frequency drives), the flywheel function is not required, and only a light weight handwheel is used. The function of a handwheel is to allow an operator to move the motor (e.g. in lifts this is needed to evacuate trapped passengers). EXAMPLE 3 Calculate the moment of inertia, mass, for the circular flywheel of which the section is shown below. The material of the flywheel is steel, the density of which is 7800 kgm-3. 50 Note to scale All dimensions in mm

I2 I3

=350

=300

I1

=270

20 15

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## Figure 6: The flywheel in Example 3.

SOLUTION We can divide the area into three parts: I1, I2 and I3 as shown above.

I1 =

w
2

(R24 R14 ) =

## 7800 0.05 (0.1754 0.154 ) = 0.264 kg m 2 2

I2 =

7800 0.03 (0.15 4 0.135 4 ) = 0.064 kg m 2 2 2 7800 0.015 w I3 = (R24 0 ) = (0.135 4 0 ) = 0.061 kg m 2 2 2 (R24 R14 ) =

The total moment of inertia is: ITotal=0.264+0.064+0.061=0.389 kgm2 EXAMPLE 4 Calculate the moment of inertia (mass), of the flywheel the section of which is shown below. Assume it is made of Aluminium, the density of which is 2700 kgm-3.

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives All dimensions in mm Not to scale

150

dx x y =300

SOLUTION If we take a small slice of thickness dx that is x away from the axis and y wide, then the moment of inertia mass can be calculated as follows:

I = (2 x ) dx y x 2
0.15 0

But from the figure, it can be seen that section is a right angle triangle with 45 degrees, so x=y.

x I = 2 x dx = 2 = 0.258 kg m 2 0 5 0
0.15 5 4

0.15

Solved Problems 1. For the flywheel shown in Figure 7, calculate a general formula for deriving the moment of inertia. Then assuming it is a carbon-steel flywheel, calculate its inertia, assuming that R1=450 mm, a=60 mm, b=30 mm.

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives

b a R1

Section AA

Figure 7: Diagram for problem 1. Solution The density of carbon steel is 7850 kg. We take a horizontal slice of thickness dx as shown below. We denote x as the distance from the slice to the centre line of the flywheel. So L= x-R1. If the width of the slice is denoted as W, then we have the identity: W/L=b/a, so W=Lb/a=(x-R1) b/a

b dx L a

x R1

## Thus the inertial can be calculated as follows: I =

R1+ a

R1

( 2 x dx W x ) = (2 )
2

R1+ a

R1

b x (x R1) x 2 dx a
R1+ a

5 x4 b x b R1+ a 4 I = 2 x x 3 R1 dx = 2 R1 R1 5 4 a a R1

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## 0903582: Electrical Drives

Substituting the values given above gives: I=24661.5[2.13x10-4]=5.253 kgm2 2. Assuming that a flywheel of exactly the same mass and material as that of problem 1 is manufactured with the same thickness b, calculate its radius and thus calculate its moment of inertia. Comment on the difference in inertia between the two flywheels. Solution We first need to find the volume of the flywheel used in the last problem. volume =
R1+ a

R1

(2 x dx W ) = (2 )R1

R1+ a

b x ( x R1) dx a
R1+ a

3 x2 b R1+ a 2 b x I = 2 x x R1 dx = 2 R1 R1 3 2 a a R1

= 8.82 10 4 m 3

So the mass of this flywheel will be 8.82x10-4 7850= 6.9237 kg. If this volume is used to make a new flywheel that has a thickness b, it will have a radius as follows: Volume=r2b=8.82x10-4 But b=0.03 m So r=0.0967 m or 96.7 mm In other words, if we melted the original triangular flywheel and made it into a cylindrical solid flywheel with thickness b (30 mm) it would have a radius of 96.7 mm. The inertia of this flywheel is (assuming carbon steel):

I1 =

w
2

4 R2 R14 =

## 7850 0.03 0.0967 4 0 4 = 0.0323 kg m 2 2

So these two flywheels weigh the same (around 7 kg), but the flywheel of problem 1 has an inertia of 5.253 kgm2 compared to 0.0323 kgm2 for the second flywheel (a ratio of around 162:1)!!!. This shows the importance of concentrating the material AWAY from the centre axis to increase the inertia without increasing the total mass of the flywheel. 3. Calculate the moment of inertia, mass, of the shaft of which the section is shown below. Assume it is made of Aluminium, the density of which is 2700 kgm-3.

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## =500 =200 =50 =300

Solution We can think of this flywheel as three flywheels side by side: The big one at the far left, the middle one and the last one at the far right. So we can calculate the inertia of each of the three on its own:

I1 = I2 = I3 =

w
2

4 R2 R14 =

w
2

4 R2 R14 =

w
2

4 R2 R14 =

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