VYCON® Direct Connect (VDC®)
VYCON® Direct Connect (VDC®) systems are highly efficient kinetic energy storage systems, which provide consistent and dependable energy for critical power systems.
The VDC energy storage systems hold kinetic energy in the form of a rotating mass, and convert this energy to electric power through patented technology within the flywheel system. Our unique technology includes a high-speed motor generator, active magnetic bearings that are used to levitate and sustain the rotor during operation, and a superior control system that can provide information on the system performance. These innovative technologies enable the VYCON flywheel to charge and discharge at high rates for countless cycles making conventional technologies like batteries obsolete.
This technology is ideal for a variety of applications as a battery-free UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) solution, including data centers, healthcare facilities, broadcast stations and other mission-critical operations that require up to 30 to 40 seconds of backup power.
Advantages of Flywheels
Flywheels are a reliable, clean and efficient alternative energy source. In comparison to lead acid batteries, flywheels offer an innumerable amount of benefits.
First, they eliminate the batteries inevitable flaw of failure. Batteries generate heat, and heat reduces battery life. Lead-acid batteries degrade every time they are cycled (used) and one bad cell in the battery bank can take out the others, rendering equipment useless. Moreover, batteries take up a lot of space, require expensive cooling and contain hazardous chemicals, making disposal an issue. Flywheels eliminate constant battery replacements, which are needed every 2-3 years. The VYCON® patented technology design requires little maintenance and allows for a 20 year life-span.
The VYCON energy storage systems have a small footprint in comparison to batteries, and produce no emissions or carbon dioxide. The VYCON product line is ideal for consumers who have limited space and enables equipment to be used in spaces not typically thought of for electrical equipment.
Top data centers, hospitals and manufacturing plants trust VYCON energy storage systems to keep their facilities up and running 24/7.
Other advantages of the VYCON energy storage systems include:
- Reliability- Up to 20x higher reliability than a single string of Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries that are typically used in UPS applications
- Longer life- Flywheels have a longer life than VRLA batteries and last 10 times longer (the VYCON energy storage system has a 20 year life and run performance)
- Reduction of required maintenance- VYCON units require little maintenance as it utilizes a 100% magnetic levitation system rather than mechanical bearings as other suppliers
- Footprint savings- VYCON units save space that would be taken up by an equivalent power rated battery bank. This lowers construction costs or allows space to be freed up to use more efficiently.
- Environmentally friendly- VYCON units produce no carbon dioxide or emissions.
- Lower-life-cycle-costs - The ROI is typically within 3-4 years, and over a 15-20 year operation, the VYCON energy storage system’s total life-cycle is a fraction in comparison to batteries.
- Does not require a temperature controlled environment- VYCON units can be operated in extreme temperatures ranging from -4⁰F to 104⁰F (-20⁰C to 40⁰C)
How Flywheels Work
Flywheels have proven their usefulness for thousands of years (i.e. potter’s wheels and Neolithic spindles); modern implementations offer a host of new benefits in the most high-tech and demanding environments.
A flywheel energy storage system or “flywheel battery” is a mechanical battery that stores energy kinetically in the form of a rotating mass, and uses the inertia of the spinning mass to store or generate power. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion as quantified by the amount of work an object can do as a result of its motion, expressed by the formula:
Kinetic Energy = ½ (mass)*(velocity) 2
The amount of energy available and its duration is proportional to its mass and the speed squared. Low-speed flywheels take advantage of mass- more mass means more energy, and double mass equals double energy. High-speed flywheels, like the VYCON® systems, take advantage of speed- the higher the speed, the higher the energy, and double RPM equals quadruple energy.
Architect of the Flywheel
The flywheel is the heart of the system storing kinetic energy in the form of a rotating mass. A system may contain mechanical or magnetic bearings, which are housed in a vacuum sealed chamber that reduces friction and increases efficiency.
The bearings support the rotor and keep it in position to rotate at high speeds. The type of bearings used can determine the speed of the flywheel, performance and maintenance issues. Mechanical bearings are the most common, but require frequent maintenance and system downtime as they produce friction, which can hinder rotation at high rates. In turn, magnetic bearings are used in high-speed flywheel systems. Magnetic bearings have many advantages over mechanical bearings, as they eliminate friction between the rotor and its supports. Magnetic bearings have a long life and low maintenance costs.
In addition to the bearings, a typical flywheel system also consists of an electric motor generator and a rotor. The design of the rotor is important in determining the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. The shaft of the flywheel is connected to an electric motor generator, which is levitated in an electromagnetic field allowing the system to cycle on demand.
When called upon, the integrated flywheel will discharge energy by using the stored energy in the rotating mass to produce output power. When the device functions as a motor, energy is supplied to the flywheel, and when the device acts as the generator, energy is stored, hence it is often known as a “flywheel battery.” The amount of energy available and its duration is governed by the mass and speed of the flywheel. They produce a high power output for short periods of time, typically 1-30 seconds.
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.
Backup Power: A supplemental power source that provides emergency power to a load when the main source fails.
Capturing and Regenerating Energy: The result of a supply of power for alternating currents (AC) during the up cycle and power regeneration on the down cycle.
Charging (Motoring): Like a UPS Inverter, the power module converts direct current (DC) from the UPS to three-phase alternating current (AC) that is applied to the stator and spins the flywheel.
Discharging (Generating): In this mode, acting like a UPS rectifier, the power module converts the three-phase AC from the flywheel motor generator to a regulated DC.
Energy Recycling: Describes the process of taking the energy component of an application that would otherwise be wasted and converting it into usable electricity or thermal energy.
Flywheel Energy Storage System- A flywheel energy storage system of “flywheel battery” is a mechanical battery that stores energy in the form of a rotating mass.
Kinetic Energy: The energy of motion as quantified by the amount of work an object can do as a result of its motion. Kinetic Energy = ½ (mass)*(velocity) 2
Peak Shaving: The process of reducing the amount of energy a company purchases from the utility provider during peak hours when prices per kilowatt hour are at their highest.
Uninterruptible Power System (UPS): A device that that is used to prolong (maintain) power as a result of a power outage. When connected to a flywheel energy storage solution, such as the VYCON® VDC®, it is called a flywheel-based UPS.