Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Engineering Science

First Advisor

Nsofor, Emmanuel


This study on the enhancement of high-speed flywheel energy storage is to investigate composite materials that are suitable for high-speed, high-energy density for energy storage and/or energy recovery. The main motivation of the study is to explore the application of the flywheel in the aviation industry for recovering some of the energy that is currently being lost at the wheel brakes of an aircraft due to the high temperature developed in the brake stack as a result of landing, frequent brake applications during taxiing in or out of heavy traffic airports and rejected take-off. Lamina and laminate mechanical properties of materials suitable for flywheel high-speed energy storage were investigated. Design and optimum stress analysis were used to determine the shape factor, maximum stress and energy density for a flywheel with a constant stress disk and a constant thickness rim. Analytical studies along with the use of the CADEC-online software were used to evaluate the lamina and laminate properties. This study found that the use of hybrid composite material with higher strength (based on first ply failure strength) and lower density and lower elastic moduli for the disk than the rim material will yield high-speed and high-energy density. The materials designed based on the results from this study show outperformance compared to previous published results of standard flywheel material combinations. The safe rotational velocity and energy density were found to be 166,000 RPM and 2.73 MJ/kg respectively. Therefore, results from this study will contribute to aiding further development of the flywheel that has recently re-emerged as a promising application for energy storage due to significant improvements in composite materials and technology. Further study on flywheel energy recovery from aircraft brakes revealed that more than half of the energy dissipated at the wheel brake as heat could be recovered and converted to some useful form. In this way, the operating life of the brakes can be prolonged. The total additional weight to the aircraft was found to be less than 0.2% of the maximum take-off weight. This additional weight can be offset by reducing the design payload while ensuring that the structural efficiency of the aircraft is not altered. It was also found that applying this method of flywheel energy recovery to active commercial Boeing-777 aircraft will result in savings equivalent to the annual carbon emission of a 6 MW fossil fuel power plant. This will also contribute to the aviation industry climate change mitigation.




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