Double the power from existing wind turbines with an add-on unit developed by a Kyushu University student’s VB (Venture Business) financed by a QB fund

The Nikkei (Japan Economics Newspaper) Nov. 26 (Sat.) 2016 translation by Murray Lawn

A Venture Business (VB) “Fudo” (Japanese Wind Tunnel Manufacturer – Kurume – Kyushu - Japan) has been kicked off by a student currently studying at Kyushu University. The VB plans to manufacture a mechanism to increase the efficiency of wind turbines. The add-on propeller unit is forecast to be available from 2018. The additional unit doubles the output at a reasonable cost by providing a dual array of turbine blades. This type of mechanism is expected to be well received by such countries as Japan or Taiwan where land space is at a premium.

This is the first time for an investment fund named “QB fund” has been used. This fund is targeted to nurture entrepreneurial minded university students. The QB fund is a funding mechanism created out of collaboration between Nishi-Nippon City Bank, industries and educational organizations in Kyushu (Kyushu city - Japan) and designed to encourage university students to be entrepreneurial, by investing in student/university initiated “Venture Businesses”.

The propeller arrays can be added to existing wind turbine units. The main features of the dual array of triple blades is the ability to begin rotation at lower wind speeds and reduced running resistance. The mechanism provides twice the output at 1.5 times the cost. Currently wind turbines recover initial costs over a period of about 18 years, this brings the cost recovery down to about 13 years (Joshua Lawn – CEO). The life expectancy of typical wind turbines is 15 to 20 years, this will reduce the probability of being unable to recover costs.

Coupling of both arrays of turbine blades efficiently to the generator is difficult as the rotation speeds differ. Other manufacturers have used multiple generators to deal with this issue but struggle with the resulting high costs. The Fudo Co. uses a differential gear to achieve this coupling with minimal transmission loss. Differential gears are used to couple a car’s transmission to both right and left wheels and yet allow for the speed variation that occurs during cornering.

Mr. Lawn started the Fudo Co. this October. He is currently a 4th year student at Kyushu University and originally from Nagasaki Prefecture. This is the first time that a student while studying at university having started a venture business has received such funding from NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) to commercialize the “Development of a dual propeller array attachment”. Making full use of knowledge gained from developing the wind turbine, Fudo Co. plans to manufacture small scale wind tunnels for application to such as competitive cycling.

This is the first university-initiated Venture Business to be invested in prior to going commercial (pre-invested) by the QB (Kyu(“Q”)shu Uni. and local “B”ank consortium) fund. It is common for university teaching staff to obtain patents and then start-up companies, however in this case the development has been carried out by, and patency obtained by an individual student. Tsuyoshi Sakamoto, CEO of QB Capital said that “This technology has been highly recognized at an international contest, and that the fund wishes to make real investments in the development of human resources”.