Flywheel Myth Busters

Flywheels require a lot of maintenance.

Older generation flywheels that use mechanical ball bearings require lubrication and eventual replacement every few years, resulting in a high degree of maintenance.  This is not the case however with VYCON® products, which require very minimal maintenance, since VYCON flywheel systems utilize a 5-axis active magnetic levitation system with no mechanical bearings.  

When operating, there is nothing in the VYCON flywheel module that needs to be maintained. VYCON systems also utilize a “medical grade” vacuum pump to maintain a high vacuum level in the flywheel chamber. Since all materials located in a vacuum environment “out gas” vapor molecules over time, these vapor molecules must be captured and removed in order to keep the vacuum at the appropriate level in the flywheel chamber.

VYCON systems gather these vapor molecules in the mineral oil of the vacuum pump. Typically, this mineral oil will need to be replaced after 1 year of operation as the mineral oil has absorbed these contaminants. Replacing the mineral oil “regenerates” the vacuum. The flywheel vacuum regeneration procedure takes about 10 minutes to perform and unlike previous generation flywheels, the unit does not have to be taken off line to perform the maintenance, thus is available to function if called upon. Because the “out-gassing” rate decreases over time, the frequency of needing to regenerate the vacuum by changing the oil is less. The estimated life of the vacuum pump itself is approximately 8-10 years.

Besides the 10 minute vacuum regeneration on the VYCON system, the only other required maintenance is the replacement of the standard DC caps at around 7-8 years of operation. This is standard maintenance on all flywheel systems that utilize a bi-directional converter.

 

Flywheels are not energy efficient.

At the maximum power rating of 300kW, the VYCON unit is 99.6% energy efficient.

 

Flywheels can’t operate in extreme weather conditions.

VYCON units can operate in temperatures ranging from -4⁰F to 104⁰F (-20⁰C to 40⁰C) without derating.

 

Flywheel systems can be very noisy.

The sound level from the flywheel module itself is less than 45dBA. Unlike other high-speed flywheels that must be liquid cooled with a water pump, radiator, fans and the associated plumbing, the VYCON system is forced air cooled. The audible noise level when the fans are in operation is approximately 68dBA.

 

Flywheels require a backup supply.

The VYCON system uses a permanent magnet motor generator technology as it can self generate critical power to magnetic levitation controller even with an IGBT failure. The unit can even go down on its backup bearings at full speed several times and recover completely without damage to the flywheel system. While the VYCON unit does require an AC input from the output of the connected UPS, it is used to power auxiliary equipment and is not required for the survivability of the system.