A New “Spin” on Wind Power

Spinning With a Breeze, This Wind Turbine is Getting Noticed Worldwide

“Global Energy” in Iwafune City, Tochigi Prefecture, started out as a subcontracting factory that produced things such as car bumpers.  As the orders they received were dropping sharply, company president Suzuki developed a unique wind turbine blade.
It’s a revolutionary turbine that spins with very little wind.  Furthermore, president Suzuki is striving to design a turbine that will spin with even less wind.

A power generation related company in Korea has recognized his technical accomplishment and is already operating a wind power generation facility using Global Energy’s turbines.

Here’s the original Japanese synopsis:

少ない風で回る、世界が認めた画期的な風車

栃木県・岩舟町にある「グローバルエナジー」は、車のバンパーなどを製作する下請け工場だった。受注の激減で、鈴木社長は独自の羽の形をした風車を開発。 少ない風で回るという画期的な風車だ。そして、さらに鈴木社長は、もっと少ない風でも回る風車の開発に挑戦。その技術力に韓国の電力関連会社が目をつけ、 すでに「グローバルエナジー」の風車を使った風力発電設備が稼働しているという。

Check out the video:

Have you ever looked at all those huge wind power turbines popping up across the landscape and wondered, “I wonder if there are other ways to design those?”.  Well, if you’re like me, then you’ve never given them a second thought! But, this man from Tochigi Prefecture has given them plenty.

Not only do these things look cool, but the experiment he does here speaks for itself.  He points a couple of electric fans toward a regular wind turbine first, and then to his cylindrical ones.  While the regular turbine stops spinning as soon as the wind stops, his cylindrical design spins long after he turns off the fans.  If that’s not enough, the largest version of the turbines, which are 7m in length, will spin and generate power with just 1 meter/hour of wind blowing.  Wow!

Now, this is not just an experimental product.  Mr. Suzuki’s company, Global Energy, has licensed their turbine to a venture capital company in Korea for $2.5 million.

I have to say though, the thing that impresses me the most about Mr. Suzuki is his attitude toward the work that he’s put into developing this new turbine.  The narrator points out the 4,000 prototypes that are sitting in his scrap yard, and this is what he has to say:

“Not a single thing in this world is wasted. Most people say that when things don’t go well, it’s called a failure. But I believe that when things don’t go well, it’s a discovery. If you quit on your idea halfway, then that’s the failure.”

Here, Here!  Well said, sir.  I believe that attitude really sums up the spirit of not only entrepreneurship and innovation, but of any type of progress.

Water Purification with Fermented Soybean Powder

This is one of the all-time great ideas presented on Gaia no Yoake.  Mr. Kanetoshi developed this simple and inexpensive method for making clean drinking water anywhere, anytime.  All you have to do is mix the powdered Natto in to dirty water from streams, lakes, or wherever and you end up with drinkable water in a few seconds.  This can be used in emergency situations, and in areas of the world where clean drinking water is hard to come by, like parts of India and Africa.

Here is the synopsis in Japanese:

バングラデシュで浄化剤を使ってみせる小田会長 6月の放送でも取り上げた浄化剤メーカーの「日本ポリグル」。
池の汚れた水でも、スプーン一杯分の浄化剤を入れてかき混ぜると、
汚れやヒ素などの有害物質と結合し、下に沈殿。水が透明になるという画期的なものだ。
前回の放送では日本ポリグルの小田兼利会長(67歳)自ら、水道普及率10%以下で水環境の著しく悪いバングラデシュに乗り込んだ様子を取材した。
バングラデシュでは、池の水や、茶色く濁った井戸水などを飲料水として使っており、病気も少なくない。そこで、池の水をきれいな飲み水に変えようと、
サイクロンの最もひどかった地域で「浄化装置」を作ってあげた。
村人たちも、子供たちもあまり見たことのないきれいな水に大いに喜んだ。
しかし、課題もあった。いつまでも「浄化剤」を無償であげるわけにはいかない。さらに、もっと多くの人を救いたい。それにはある程度お金をとって、
継続的に支援できるようにしなければいけない。
小田会長は再びバングラデシュに乗り込み、地元の人たちと協力し、
より多くの人たちに浄化剤を広めるプロジェクトに乗りだす。
「ペットボトルを買えるようなお金持ちに売ってもしょうがない。
お金のない人に行き渡るようにしたい」と語る小田会長。
バングラデシュでそのモデルケースを作れれば、世界中の飲み水に困っている人たちを救えると考えている。果たしてその思いは通じるのか?

English:

We’re looking at the water purification maker “Nihon Polyglu”, which we also presented in our June broadcast.
By mixing one spoonful of the purification powder into water from dirty ponds, etc. the toxic substances such as arsenic and other impurities bind with the powder and settle on the bottom.  This revolutionary substance has the power to turn such water clear.
In our previous broadcast we followed company president Kanetoshi Oda as he headed out on his own to Bangladesh, a country with considerably poor water services reaching only 10% of the population.
In Bangladesh water-borne illnesses are not uncommon with people using pond water and muddied well water for drinking.
Mr. Oda went to an area hit hardest by a cyclone and set up a water purification station to make drinking water from a pond.
The villagers and children were ecstatic to see something they were not used to seeing, clean water.
But, there’s a problem.  The purification powder can’t be provided without compensation forever.  And, the aim is to bring this to even more people.  It’s necessary to collect some money so that this assistance can be provided continuously.
So, Mr. Oda went back to Bangladesh and cooperated with the locals in a project to further spread the use of the the purification powder.  Mr. Oda said, “We can’t just try to sell this to wealthy people with enough money to buy bottled water, we need to make it available to people without money”.  If he can create a successful model in Bangladesh, he can help others in countries without clean drinking water.  Will he be able to make it a reality?

Here’s the Video:

Don’t Push Wheelchairs, Pull Them!

I’m very excited to be sharing the very first post to Japanese Innovations!  This idea is really representative of the purpose of the website.  It’s a novel, simple, and highly impactful idea.  It is also something that has the power to make life better for those who need it most.  

This comes from what will likely be a foundational source of ideas for the blog.  It is a popular documentary TV show in Japan called “Gaia no Yoake”, or Dawn of Earth.  Here is the synopsis in Japanese, with the English translation following.

車椅子を「押す」のではなく「引く」…画期的な装置とは?

一方、東日本大震災で、車いすを利用していた方たちの中に、逃げ遅れて犠牲になった方が多くいたと言う。そこで、中村正善さんは、車いすを「押す」のではなく、人力車のように「引く」ことができる装着式のアタッチメントを生み出した。自治体では、南海トラフ巨大地震に備え、この商品を防災訓練に使用したり、常備したりする動きが出てきた。さらに、車いすを「押す」だけでは行けなかった場所へも、「引く」ことで行けるようになると気付いた中村さん。防災だけでなく観光でも使えるのではないかと考え、広く売り込みを始めた。

English:                                                                                                               Don’t Push Wheelchairs, Pull Them!…What is This Ground Breaking Apparatus?    

During the Tohoku Earthquake there was a large number of people in wheelchairs that couldn’t get to safety in time and lost their lives. So, Mr. Masayoshi Nakamura came up with an attachment that allows one to pull a wheelchair like a rickshaw, rather than push it.  The local government has been using this product in disaster exercises, and is keeping it at the ready in preparation for a large earthquake from the Nankai Sea.  Mr. Nakamura has also realized that there are some places that you can only go to by pulling a wheelchair, not just by pushing it.  Knowing that this can be used for things like sightseeing, in addition to disaster situations, he has been working hard to promote it far and wide.                     

Isn’t that a great idea?!  Please watch the video and let me know what you think.  Unfortunately, it’s only in Japanese.  Mr. Nakamura was driven to create this out of his desire to help his little brother as a child, and now he’s able to help many others with his invention.  If there’s anyone out there that uses a wheelchair, I’d love to hear what your reaction to this is.

Here’s the Video: