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Saturday May 7, 2011
The era of large-scale fossil-fuel energy generation barely existed little more than 100 years ago.
The modern steam turbine was invented in 1884 by the Englishman Sir Charles Parsons (1854-1931).
By 1892 the power of his turbines had increased from the very first prototype of 4 kW in 1885 to
a respectable 100 kW.
It was only 1895 when the first electric street lighting scheme in Cambridge was turned on; powered by three 4-tonne 100 kW radial flow generators.
As the fossil-fuel era comes to an end, it is interesting to speculate how long it might be before nuclear, solar, wind and biomass energy sources are also replaced - if someone like Sir Charles Parsons finds a way to use an unimaginably vast energy source rotating right beneath our feet (24 hours a day - literally).
Assume you live on a flywheel with the following size, mass and shape and that rotates about once every 24 hours.
If the above change in flywheel rotational kinetic energy is made uniformly over 100,000 years:
it is the equivalent to this many 1,000 MW power stations : 139,445
The rotational kinetic energy of a flywheel can be expressed as
Moment of Inertia