Controlled Canfield Joint as Improved Gimbal for Flywheel Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Balcones Technologies LLC
10532 Grand Oak Circle Array
Austin, TX 78750
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Texas at Austin
10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 160 J. J. Pickle Research Campus
Austin, TX 78758
Institution POC


Balcones Technologies, LLC proposes to adapt technologies developed by and resident in The University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics (CEM) in the areas of dynamically controlled precision actuators and flywheel energy storage systems to address STTR 2011-1 Subtopic T3.01, Technologies for Space Power and Propulsion. In particular, our team will develop a concept design for a replacement to traditional flywheel gimbal systems that is based on a parallel kinematic structure proposed by Dr. Canfield in approximately 1997 as a carpal wrist joint, now commonly known as the Canfield Joint. The intended result will be a concept for an actively controlled Canfield-Joint Gimbal Replacement System (CGRS) that is considerably less expensive, simpler, and more reliable than current gimbal technology; does not require slip rings for power and control cables; does not have singularity issues, such as gimbal lock; and has relatively simple controls based on analytical kinematic solutions. Our proposed Phase I project will fully evaluate requirements, develop appropriate simulations of the kinematics and control system for a flywheel with magnetic bearings in the CGRS, develop a concept design of the CGRS, develop a commercialization and production plan, and develop a Phase II program plan to demonstrate the system with an existing high-speed flywheel system on magnetic bearings.