[Image Source: Challenergy]
Japanese engineers developed an incredibly rugged wind turbine which is capable of harnessing the immense powers of typhoons.
Atsushi Shimizu, an engineer of the project is developing a wind turbine which takes advantage of the Magnus effect to safely harness the power of the gale force winds produced in a typhoon.
Since 2011, Japan’s nuclear program has been shut down over the concerns surrounding the Fukushima meltdown. While the country was once predicted to generate 60% of its electrical demand through nuclear generators, the idea now rests as the majority of the reactors remain dormant.
Currently, the country is facing an energy crisis, resulting in the necessity to import about 84% of its energy requirements. Missions which introduced traditional wind turbines have largely failed as a result of extreme weather.
“For decades, Japan has brought in European-style wind turbines, not designed for typhoon zones, and installed them with no careful consideration — they’ve broken almost entirely,”
“Typhoons are normally nothing but a disaster,”
However, Shimizu believes he can turn the destructive forces into a solution for Japan’s energy crises. To no surprise, typhoons harbor incredible power which produces immense winds which generally break typically used wind turbines.
Just one storm can produce kinetic energy equivalent “to about half the world-wide electrical generating capacity,” as reported by the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory. If the power from one storm could be stored, Japan would have enough energy for 50 years.
While the storms are renowned for destroying wind turbines, Challenergy believes their new wind turbines will be able to harness much of the wasted power. The turbines feature four pillars with a blade that obstructs the wind from one side.
The magnus effect is based off of the principle of spinning objects. As an object spins, it creates an area of higher and lower pressure. The direction in which the spinning object moves manipulates the speed of the air as it travels through. The side of the object which spins in the direction of the motion directs the air to travel straight backwards. However, on the opposite side of the object, the wind is directed slightly towards the opposite side, therefore, resulting in a net force perpendicular to the motion (or in the case of a fixed object, perpendicular to the direction of the wind). In the event of the new wind turbine, the effect is achieved by attatching rotational pillars with fins attached on one side. As the wind blows, one side of the pillar experiences a force perpendicular to the wind and therefor causes it to spin.
The structures can be built to withstand higher winds, making the turbines an ideal candiate in envirmnents which contains winds that would otherwise damage turbines.
The turbine is inovative, however, like every renewable technology, it is incredibly expensive to implement on a large scale. Although, Japan may have no other choice as the weather continues to bombard the country with incredibly strong winds.
The magnus effect can be further investigated through the video below.