Flywheel works nets Navy shipboard energy storage contract

Beacon Power Corp. has struck a deal with the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command to evaluate the use of flywheel-based energy storage technology for multiple shipboard applications.

Beacon Power Corp. (Tyngsboro, Mass.) has struck a deal with the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to evaluate the use of flywheel-based energy storage technology for multiple shipboard applications. The program is expected to lead to a final conceptual design of a flywheel system for future naval surface combatants. The final flywheel design is expected to be based on and incorporate many aspects of Beacon’s Smart Energy 25 flywheel, which is now being deployed by utility power companies for large-scale electrical grid frequency regulation. Beacon manufactures the Smart Energy 25 flywheel with composite materials.

“This contract with NAVSEA comes as a result of several years of working closely together to help the Navy understand the value and potential of our flywheel technology for shipboard use,” said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. “Because Navy ships are essentially mini-power-grids, this program provides the opportunity to leverage our commercial experience with land-based power grids. We also can build on the knowledge gained from working with DARPA and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab in support of spacecraft energy storage.”

Under terms of this multiyear contract, Beacon will perform an analysis of future shipboard energy storage needs; identify several flywheel applications that could offer the greatest benefit to future naval combatants; assist the Navy’s powerplant upgrade development team by characterizing the flywheel applications under consideration and assisting in system-level studies; and validate study results. Beacon then will develop a conceptual flywheel design and simulation models. The value of the initial R&D work is estimated at $900,000 (USD), $500,000 of which already has been appropriated. The subsequent phases involve work estimated at up to an additional $2.1 million.