The UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has conducted testing of an advanced energy storage system in collaboration with the US Navy.

The system is known as the Flywheel Energy Storage System (FESS) and is based on Le Mans motor-sport technologies.

FESS has been developed under collaboration between GKN and Dstl to demonstrate an energy storage option for the Royal Navy’s most advanced ships. The new technology was originally developed by the Williams F1 team.

Testing of the FESS was performed at both UK and US facilities under an agreement called Advanced Electric Power and Propulsion Project Arrangement (AEP3).

To perform testing, the UK’s Dstl and DE&S teamed up with the US NAVSEA’s Electric Ship Office and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The testing in the US was also supported by US Coalition Warfare Program (CWP) funding.

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FESS uses high-speed and lightweight flywheels to provide high-power electrical pulses.

It is intended to serve the Royal Navy’s future systems such as Dragonfire Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) and help reduce the impact of these systems to the rest of the ship.

In addition, the technology will remove safety concerns related to battery-based systems.

As part of the collaborative programme, the US and UK used a power hardware-in-the-loop (PHIL) approach.

“This technology was originally developed by the Williams F1 team and was brought to us for potential use in defence.”

The PHIL approach involved the integration of a ‘real’ FESS into a virtual ship power system that simulated a Royal Navy vessel operating in real-time.

This approach can be used to develop the hardware and de-risk its integration into a real ship in a cost-effective way.

Following the US trials, the FESS was delivered to the UK and tested at the Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Scotland.

Dstl Andrew Tate said: “This technology was originally developed by the Williams F1 team and was brought to us for potential use in defence. We saw an attractive option to bolster defence capability through the provision of more robust and futureproof power systems for naval ships.

“The development of FESS and the close working we have achieved with DE&S, GKN, PNDC and our US partners has now provided a significant addition benefit in the development of real-time modelling capability and PHIL testing facilities at PNDC.”

The project is part of the UK Government’s wider de-risking activity to enable the Royal Navy to perform integration of future energy intensive loads.

PNDC MoD programme technical lead Kyle Jennett noted that testing will expedite development of equipment, de-risk integration challenges, and minimise the need for shore demonstrators.

Dragonfire LDEW is currently being developed by Dstl and a consortium of industry partners comprising QinetiQ, Leonardo-Finmeccanica, GKN, Arke, BAE Systems, Marshall ADG and MBDA.