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Vehicle systems that store and retrieve energy have commonly relied on lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries as a storage medium. Springs are an alternative means of energy storage and could be used to supplement batteries in such systems. This would allow a reduction in the size of those batteries and the electric motors they operate, potentially accompanied with financial and environmental benefits. The general properties of springs suggest that they are well-suited for use in motor vehicle systems. Springs are able to provide a large amount of power relative to their size, and have the ability to store potential mechanical energy in a context where mechanical energy is required. In contrast, electrical energy-storage systems require additional motors and generators to apply or absorb mechanical energy. This research explores the utility of spring materials in automotive systems through the design and construction of a prototypical spring-based engine-starting system. The objectives are threefold: to determine the physical properties of several elastomers to assess their potential as energy-storage media, to derive the operating requirements and ideal size of a starting system from a production engine, and to design and build a prototype that is physically able to meet or exceed those operating requirements. Having accomplished these three objectives, the feasibility of using springs for other energy-storage systems may be explored, as well as the potential for large-scale production of such a system.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Andrew P. Murray

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium poster

Novel Concepts for Spring-Based Mechanical Energy Storage in Motor Vehicles