Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flywheel system on the diesel Crane

I read an interesting article last week about saving energy by using a flywheel system.

The article stated “In large coastal shipping ports, thousands of diesel engines are operated within ships, trains, trucks, and cranes. Although these engines are the workhorses of the industry, their exhaust is a known pollutant that can cause cancer and other diseases. Around the vicinity of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, in particular, the diesel exhaust is associated with 70% of pollution-related health problems; moreover, diseases caused by the port pollution are responsible for hundreds of deaths annually in this area.” (Flynn, 2008)

This article talked about how a flywheel system installed on a diesel operating crane can help the U.S. shipping port reduce the energy consumption and the diesel exhaust pollution.

The shipping ports around U.S. use this type of crane to pick up and lower the container onto a truck for delivery. As we can see from the picture below, the spreader goes down to pick up the container by using the hoist motor and the operating car moves the container above the truck. The crane then delivers the container on the truck for the final delivery. There is a lot of energy wasted in this process.

CEM (Center of Electromechanics at University of Texas designed a dual flywheel system that can capture this waste energy into something useful. They capture container’s kinetic energy (downward motion of the crane) to turn the flywheels and the flywheels can store this energy due to momentum. This stored energy in the flywheel system can be redistributed back into hoist motor for the next lift. This will greatly reduce the diesel consumption of the crane.

Flynn, M. M., McMullen, P., & Solis, O. (2008, November/December). Saving Energy

Using Flywheel. IEEE Industry Application Magazine, 69-76. Retrieved from

The result of the testing are in the table listed below. We can clearly see that with the flywheel system incorporated into the diesel gentry crane, all three categories (Fuel consumption, Nitrous oxides and Particulate emission) were reduced.

Flynn, M. M., McMullen, P., & Solis, O. (2008, November/December). Saving Energy

Using Flywheel. IEEE Industry Application Magazine, 69-76. Retrieved from

(What do you need to know about energy, 2008)

We have seen this pie chart above from Dr. Webber’s lecture slides. If we combine industrial, commercial and residential together, we will see that these 3 sectors consumed almost 72% of our energy. I believe that we should target our energy policy from both end of the spectrum. Not only we need to have new research and development of sustainable energy but we also have to find a way to make our current process more efficient. That is why the above article caught my eye. A penny saved, is a penny earned…..It is not all about make more energy and consume more, but how to use efficiently.

1 comment:

Rohit said...

I would say a very effective, even though not a novel idea. I believe this kind of energy saving is the first step towards wiser energy policies and consumption behavior. Such optimizations should be rewarded and mandated for all other similar venues.
To highlight a similar process of saving energy - I did a project with an energy efficiency company during fall. When I asked their chief of operations about the most obvious energy savings that they were able to achieve his response was amazing. He told us about a client in a location where the parking area used to be covered with ice during 3 months in a year. This client had installed equipment to heat the whole floor of their parking area so that there're no accidents with people slipping on ice. The big blunder was that this heating system used to run for the whole year; including peak summer months. Nobody ever thought of switching it off when winters were over.
Implementing steps to conserve energy must become a way of life and we all should look for creative ways of achieving it.