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A flywheel generator for data centers?

Active Power has created an updated version of its system designed to provide seamless energy backup and tailored it for the IT crowd.

Active Power is offering an updated version of its flywheel generator specifically designed for backing up microprocessor-based equipment, the company announced today.

Its CleanSource UPS (uninterruptible power supply) system is available in 480-volt (300 kVA and 600 kVA) and 400-volt (250 kVA and 500 kVA) configurations.

"Designed based on customer feedback, the G-Series is an enhancement to our current generation of UPS technology and is a cost and feature optimized solution for the 300 to 600 kVA power range," Active Power CTO Uwe Schrader-Hausmann said in a statement.

Active Power's CleanSource UPS uses flywheels to provide kinetic energy that can be converted to immediately usable electricity in the event of a brownout or blackout. Active Power

A flywheel generator uses electricity from the electric grid to rotate its flywheel and remain spinning. When electricity is lost, the actively spinning flywheel's stored kinetic energy is then used to power its motor and produce electricity. The result is a generator that can supply an immediate burst of electricity until either the original electricity source comes back, or the switch to an alternate long-term power source can be made.

The CleanSource UPS, which the company claims is 98 percent efficient, is intended for use in conjunction with large backup generators, and can be used to protect places like data centers from surges or brownouts, as well as used as a temporary energy source in the event of a blackout. It can be integrated to avoid any disruption in service, something obviously critical to microprocessor-based centers.

Active Power went public as a company in 2000, when, in the face of rolling blackouts plaguing many communities that year, it began offering flywheel systems that store kinetic energy as an uninterruptible power source.

The U.S. government is also interested in kinetic energy, not as a way to back up in the face of electrical failure, but as a way to store energy from the electrical grid.

Beacon Power received $43 million in the form of a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to construct a 200-flywheel storage plant that could potentially buffer 20 megawatts of power for the electric grid in New York. When complete the plant will be a 20-megawatt storage facility.