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Optimal Energy Extraction from the Atmosphere

Takafumi Nishino

What is the most efficient way to extract wind energy from the Earth’s atmosphere? What should our wind turbines and wind farms in the future look like, and how much wind energy we can extract without having an unacceptable impact on the natural environment?



One of my main activities is to supervise doctoral students’ research projects. For me this is like a mixture of teaching and research, as I teach my students how to do research (how to plan, conduct, and write up the results of their research) and I learn new things from their research at the same time.

I also do my own research and discuss results with my collaborators from different research institutions, such as the UK Met Office. I also give some lectures and tutorials to our undergraduate students, as well as supervise their final-year projects.

I enjoy finding a solution to an unresolved problem in fluid mechanics, especially a type of problem for which there is a true solution that will remain true forever. I also enjoy finding the best (simplest) way to describe complex characteristics and mechanisms of fluid flows. In short, I enjoy contributing to a better understanding of the physics of fluids.

I also enjoy exploring optimal solutions to a complex engineering problem. But the challenge in engineering science is that such optimal solutions, and even the problem itself, may change from time to time. It is important but hard to predict how our world will change and what will remain important to us in the future.

So, the hardest parts of my job (as an engineering scientist) may be to keep up with the rapidly changing world, predict the future, and think carefully about what to study next, to make sure that my expertise will gradually expand in the right direction.



At school my favourite subjects were science and physics. I also used to play brass music, kendo (Japanese fencing) and shogi (Japanese chess) at school.

I studied engineering physics for my undergraduate degree at Kyoto University in Japan, and then did a PhD in aerodynamics at the University of Southampton. After that, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames Research Center in the US, and then came back to the UK to work in Oxford.

I like my job as a scientist because I want to leave something useful to the world, especially something that will remain useful for a long time.

My career goal is to write a couple of books that are good enough to be read and appreciated by future generations. My current goal, hopefully in the next 5 years or so, is to write a book on a general theory of wind energy extraction from the atmosphere.


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