Skip to main content

Typhoon-powered wind turbine aims to siphon energy from a force of nature

japan typhoon power wind energy turbine challenergy
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the uppermost layer of Earth’s oceans are warming at a rate of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. As the oceans warm, scientists predict a future filled with increasingly more powerful hurricanes and tropical storms. These massive weather phenomena can create wind speeds greater than 150 miles per hour. This is, of course, a tremendous amount of energy.

With our growing reliance on clean wind energy, it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to tap into typhoon energy. Challenergy, a pioneering Japanese engineering firm, believes it is ready to harness the power of a raging Mother Nature.

Engineer Atsushi Shimizu with his typhoon-grade wind turbine
Engineer Atsushi Shimizu with his typhoon-grade wind turbine Challenergy

Typhoons wreak havoc on many nations, resulting in a loss of human life, as well as millions of dollars in damage. Japan knows this all too well, with an average of nearly three typhoons making landfall on the Asian Pacific nation annually. Engineer Atsushi Shimizu hopes his new invention, the world’s first typhoon-powered wind turbine will help the nation power itself in the decades to come.

The Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory claims that a single typhoon can produce the kinetic energy equivalent to roughly 50 percent of the world’s electrically generated energy. A lone typhoon would theoretically create enough energy to power Japan for nearly half a century. Moreover, Japan imports about 84 percent of its energy, meaning this technology could greatly increase the nation’s energy independence.

Japan has tried to use European wind turbine models to capitalize on typhoons in the past. Unfortunately, these models were never meant for such scenarios and tend to fail during such extreme conditions. Challenergy looks to succeed where all other green energy companies have so far failed.

Shimizu’s turbine is rather innocuous to behold. The contraption looks more like an industrial-sized egg beater than it does your run-of-the-mill wind turbine. The compact design is aimed at helping to minimize the risk of structural failure. While traditional wind turbines use more a triad of blades on a single rotary, this typhoon model includes three independent cylinders. These cylinders look to utilize what is known as the Magnus effect. This design capacity allows the turbine to harness wind coming from several directions rather than being limited to a single directional wind like traditional turbines.

The Challenergy team claims its turbine is capable of withstanding typhoon-strength winds and then some. Shimizu believes his invention can withstand winds up to 80 meters per second. We’ll have to wait to see just how much of Mother Nature’s wrath this turbine can actually take. The model has tested well in the laboratory, but the turbine has yet to face an actual typhoon. Shimizu and his team hope to  have their revolutionary turbine ready by 2020, just in time for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Editors' Recommendations

Dallon Adams
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Dallon Adams is a graduate of the University of Louisville and currently lives in Portland, OR. In his free time, Dallon…
Gargantuan offshore wind turbine crushes record for most energy produced in 24 hours
denmark wind turbine breaks records v164

There's a massive offshore wind turbine in Østerild, Denmark breaking energy generation records left and right.

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind -- a joint venture between Vestas Wind Systems and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries -- showed off its 9 MW turbine prototype in December 2016, an upgrade to its V164-8.0 MW version. The Goliath of wind turbines generated nearly 216,000 kWh over 24 hours during its December test, breaking the previous record for energy generation record for a commercially available offshore wind turbine. To put the numbers in perspective, that's enough energy to power the average American household for roughly 20 years.

Read more
Plant a Wind Tree in your neighborhood to generate energy from low-speed wind
newwind wind trees leaf turbines

These trees do more than just add ambiance. Harnessing the wind to generate electrical energy usually brings to mind thoughts of huge land- or ocean-based wind farms consisting of huge towers with two or three blades, each more than 100-feet long, on the top. The size, weight, noise, and vibration of industrial wind turbines restrict their use to large open spaces. Newwind, a French startup, has developed a much smaller, urban-space-friendly "Wind Tree," reports Electrek.

The Wind Tree, which produces sufficient energy to power small buildings or streetlights, is designed to connect to a nearby energy storage system. The trees are each about 30 feet tall and 26 feet in diameter, and weigh approximately 5,500 pounds. Each tree has 54 Aeroleafs mounted vertically on tree branches. The Aeroleafs are 3.2 feet high and, spinning at optimum speed, are capable of generating 65 watts each. So, a tree with 54 leaves has an energy-generation capacity maximum of 3,510 watts (3.5kW), about the same as a small home solar installation.

Read more
BeCool Power Tech system creates energy from your home AC
becool power tech 48146048  close up of female hand on central heating thermostat

In summers of the future, you may not have to choose between keeping cool and saving money -- at least, not if the BeCool HVAC system makes it big. While most air conditioning units suck up energy in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, the new device cools (or heats) the air while simultaneously charging a fuel cell. This means that your AC unit isn't just using electricity -- it's generating it as well.

BeCool, the Florida-based startup behind the idea, has created a Power Tech system that uses natural gas, an easily and cheaply stored form of energy that is rarely used in ACs. But the real draw, of course, is the Power Tech's ability to create electricity. The secret, Scientific American writes, lies in its innovative evaporative cooling and waste heat utilization.

Read more