About this project
Lower Cost Energy Storage is the Key to Clean Energy and Energy Independence
The cost of clean & distributed electricity generation like wind and solar has fallen dramatically over the past few years making them the cheapest sources of electricity in the world. But because the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining, their power is not always available. Energy storage takes the sometimes-on output of wind and solar and turns it into always-on reliable electrical power available whenever you need it. Affordable energy storage is the last missing piece of the clean energy equation. We are developing a new and dramatically lower cost energy storage technology.
This Kickstarter will fund the construction of a magnetic bearing and motor assembly that is the last piece of our product prototype. With this assembly complete, we will have a fully operational product prototype which we can demo for customers. Then we can begin taking orders and go into production with our initial systems!
The Role of Energy Storage.
Why not Batteries?
Batteries have been the word in energy storage for generations. They are tried and true, and some are capable of remarkable performance... But they are highly toxic and they are simply too expensive!
Because batteries cost so much, they make wind and solar uncompetitive compared to fossil fuel generation for providing always-on reliable power. When brought to market, Velkess's non-toxic and recyclable technology will dramatically reduce the cost of energy storage and make clean generation the clear cost and performance leader in many applications.
Personal Energy Independence
Hurricane Sandy left over 2,100,000 people without power in 11 states. Even those with backup generators found that fuel scarcity made them vulnerable.
An average suburban home can generate all the electricity it needs by collecting the solar energy that hits its roof. Energy Storage makes it possible to be completely independent from both the electrical grid and the fuel distribution system.
Velkess's low cost energy storage will make reliable clean and truly independent electricity generation an affordable reality.
Developing World Applications
In many developing regions, grid electricity can be even more unreliable than electricity from the wind or the sun so people who need reliable power use small fossil fuel powered generators. Energy storage makes reliable, always-on power from unreliable power, be it an erratic grid or local solar and wind generation. Velkess's technology coupled with wind or solar generation will substantially undercut the cost of always-on power produced by fossil fuel generators, improving the health of developing economies and reducing their dependance on fossil fuel.
Velkess's Technology – The Flexible Flywheel
While Velkess's technology will replace batteries, it is a completely different device called a flywheel. The following animation explains the basic working of an energy storage flywheel...
Energy storage flywheels have been in use for over 100 years and are some of the highest performing energy storage technologies ever developed. Traditionally, they have suffered one fatal flaw... they are extremely expensive! Velkess has invented a way of making energy storage flywheels at such low cost it will be dramatically less expensive than even the most economical energy storage technologies available today.
How is Velkess's Flywheel Different?
Velkess's flywheel was conceived from the very beginning up to provide dramatically lower cost for performance. To do this we had to take a fundamentals approach, re-imagining the flywheel from the ground up.
Flexible vs. Rigid
Traditional flywheels are designed and built like the turbines of high performance jet engines. They use super rigid materials and super high precision fabrication to very tightly control the powerful natural dynamics that are characteristic of all high energy spinning rotors. These materials, precision, and control techniques are all very expensive, so you simply can't use the traditional rigid approach to make a low cost system.
Velkess's flywheel is flexible and works very much like a cowboy's lasso. Our flexible system embraces the natural dynamics of the rotor, redirecting any stray energies into stabilizing counter forces. By working cooperatively with these natural rotor dynamics we gain excellent control of the rotor system without having to crush out its irregularities. Because of this we can use much less expensive materials and don't need nearly as much precision as rigid designs.
The result is a radical cost reduction as compared to traditional rigid systems.
Velkess's flexible flywheel technology enables a truly radical cost reduction over traditional flywheels.
One of the kickstarter rewards is the Desktop Demonstration system shown in the video below. With it you can see for yourself the powerful but entirely passive self-stabilizing properties of our flexible technology.
If you are interested in more technical information about the Velkess's flexible flywheel, there is a lot more here.
Where is the Project Today, and what will this Kickstarter Make Possible?
We've made over 50 prototypes, each proving out and refining some aspect of the technology. For the last year we've been building a single unified prototype of a real product that we can sell to customers. We are almost there!
Our current prototype flywheel floats on a high efficiency magnetic bearing assembly, can make or absorb 2kW of power, and can store ½ kWh of energy. To get to a real product prototype we need to bump that storage up 30x to 15kWh. That means replacing the 25lb flywheel rotor seen in the video with a 750lb version. We've already built and fully tested flywheels that are physically larger and nearly as heavy, so we are very confident we can do this. We also have access to all the fiber materials we need to construct such a flywheel.
Our challenge is with the magnetic assembly. The magnets to float 25lbs are easy to get on the internet and easy to work with by hand. Magnets strong enough to float 750lbs, are a different story. They need to be custom made and are too powerful to safely work by hand.
This Kickstarter will fund the development of a new magnetic motor/bearing assembly that can support the new 750lb flywheel and run with high efficiency.
Sticker - 3"x 3"
Refrigerator Magnet - Laser Cut 304 Stainless Steel & Ceramic Ferrite
Beefy 1.5" diameter ceramic ferrite magnet will hold wads of photos, cards, lists, art, and whatever to your fridge door. Laser cut 304 stainless steel cutout is over-sized so the magnet is easy to pull up and reposition.
Tee Shirt - 100% cotton
Hoodie - Zipper Front
Beautifully and solidly crafted from laser cut 304 stainless steel, polished brass, and bronze. 7" x 6" x 6". Demonstrate the flexible stability of the Velkess flywheel on your desktop, coffee table or mantle piece. Watch the stabilization mechanism in action. Pick it up and shake it to simulate an earthquake! Great conversation piece. See video above.
This Kickstarter would not have been possible without the support of many people and organizations who have shared in our vision and graciously contributed their talents, energy, patience, and where-with-all.
We would like to give special thanks to...
Todd Tankersley for his superb photography
Todd Tankersley, Lisbon Okafor, & Esteban Salazar for producing the main video
Joe Parisi, Mike Fisher, Mike Delgado, Tom Lorincz, Scott Carstairs, and the excellent people of Therma Corp for giving Velkess a home, providing access to material and fabrication equipment, and sharing in the struggles and victories of the project day in and day out.
Risks and challenges
The magnetic bearing and motor assembly that will be funded by this kickstarter fits into a class of machine called a Brushless DC motor generator. BLDC motors are very well understood and are mass produced by the hundreds of thousands. Our application is not typical (running in a high vacuum, continuously, at high speed, under a heavy thrust load) so we really need to customize the BLDC to fit. This is work, but it is not especially risky work. Just work work.
That said, with projects like this in general there is always a risk that some unexpected technical issue will crop up. We've been developing this technology for many years now, and in that time we've come across a bunch of technical wrinkles that were not apparent to us at the outset... aka surprises! Many of these surprises have been phenomena, which once teased apart have actually yielded tools that enabled better performance than we had previously expected! Gems in the rough that could only be found by actually building and testing a new machine! Some of the surprises have just been obstacles that we could/did not see in planning, but that were easily designed around once we became aware of them. Universally, such surprises require a reassessment and refinement of plans, and this always results in some delay in the project schedule. None of them has yet made us question the viability of the core technology (at least not for very long : ), and as I said before, a number of them have actually made the technology even better than we initially hoped.
So, while there is always risk involved in creating such truly new technologies, over the years we have become expert at meeting unexpected obstacles and developing creative solutions that open up new paths to ever better results.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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