Archive for October 4th, 2017

Angular Velocity of a Flywheel

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

   We introduced the flywheel in our last blog and the fact that as long as it’s spinning it acts as a kinetic energy storage device.   Today we’ll work our way towards an understanding of how this happens when we discuss angular velocity.

   Angular velocity is represented in engineering and physics by the symbol, ω, the Greek letter Omega.   The term angular is used to denote physical quantities measured with respect to an angle, especially those quantities associated with rotation.

Angular Velocity of a Flywheel

Angular Velocity of a Flywheel


   To understand how angular velocity manifests let’s consider a fixed point on the face of a flywheel, represented in the illustration as A.   When the flywheel is at rest, point A is in the 12 o’clock position, and as it spins A travels clockwise in a circular path.    An angle, θ, is formed as A’s position follows along with the rotation of the flywheel.   The angle increases in size as A travels further from its starting point.   If A moves one complete revolution, θ will equal 360 degrees, or the total number of degrees present in a circle.

   As the flywheel  spins through its first revolution into its second, point A travels past its point of origination, and in two complete revolutions it will travel 2 × 360, or 720 degrees, in three revolutions 3 × 360, or 1080 degrees, and so forth.   The degrees A travels continue to increase with each revolution of the flywheel.

   Angular velocity represents the total number of degrees A travels within a given time period.  If we measure the flywheel’s rotational speed with a tachometer and find it takes one second to make 50 revolutions, point A will have traveled the circumference of its path fifty times, and A’s angular velocity would be calculated as,

ω = (50 revolutions per second) × (360 degrees per revolution)

ω = 18,000 degrees per second

   Next time we’ll introduce a unit of measurement known as radians which is uniquely used to measuring the angles of circular motion.

Copyright 2017 – Philip J. O’Keefe, PE

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