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The Gyrobus in Practical Form

22nd December 1950
Page 48
Page 48, 22nd December 1950 — The Gyrobus in Practical Form
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

MANY engineers and designers have studied and attempted to solve the problem of storing energy in a vehicle in forms other than electricity or steam. For some years, Ateliers de Construction Oerlikon, of Zurich, Switzerland, has been developing an interesting and practicable form of vehicle in which storage of energy is effected through the medium of a large flywheel or gyroscope rotating at a considerable speed, this being energized (speeded up) at suitable points en route.

The first tests were carried out on a railway wagon. Now, what is known as the Gyrobus has been developed. In appearance it closely resembles a modern bus or trolleybus of ordinary type, but in place of the engine or trolleypoles it carries, under the frame, amidships, a stout sealed casing in which is mounted on a vertical axis a flywheel weighing I tons, and which rotates in an atmosphere of hydrogen. In the sami casing above the flywheel, is a dynamotor, which serves to energize the flywheel from an external source of current and afterwards to provide current for driving the single motor at the rear of the chassis.

The maximum speed of the rotor is 3,000 r.p.m. and when the bus is braked, part of the energy is recuperated. The energy stored is sufficient to drive the vehicle for about four miles on the level, so that the electricity supply points must be positioned at distances within this limit, and closer where there are hills. The first Gyrobus is a 30-seater singledecker with accommodation for 20 standees, and the maximum speed is approximately 30 m.p.h. Recently it was tried out in Altdorf for 14 days on regular runs, each of four and a half miles, and carried 8,000 persons without trouble. At present, certain experimental equipment is being replaced, and following this the vehicle will be put into regular service near Zurich.

The time taken to " recharge " the vehicle at the simply points varies between one and three minutes. according to the drop in the speed of revolutions of the flywheel. Charging at these points is effected without the driver having to leave his seat. He merely has to control three contacts mounted on the roof, which touch other suitably arranged contacts on the source of supply. A special instrument indicates to him the speed of the flywheel.

Control closely resembles that of an ordinary motor vehicle. During stops in service, the flywheel rotates with minimum loss from friction, so that the vehicle can wait for quite a long time in traffic without the speed of the gyroscope being reduced appreciably. There are, of course, considerable advantages in the way of silence and lack of odour.

The design of the dynamotor and its connections is such that it can receive its current from a single-phase source and yet furnish a three-phase supply to the driving motor of the vehicle.

Whilst the equipment of the Gyrobus may be a little more expensive than that of a trolleybus, the system should be more economic, because of the absence of overhead lines and transformers, and compared with an engine the gyroscope and its equipment have a far longer life.


Locations: Altdorf, Zurich

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