One of the greatest breakthroughs in sustainable development discourse over the past decade has been the UN’s adoption of its ‘Global Goals,’ and the corresponding high-level recognition that sustainability is a universal issue. However, turning these good intentions into beneficial action at a local level brings unique challenges for each initiative when it comes to breaking new ground in untrodden territory.
When the World Health Organisation (WHO) began work to roll out immunisation programmes across Africa, ensuring the vaccines themselves were kept at optimum temperature during transit and storage was critical to these operations’ success.
We’ve all been there, crossing our legs in the crowd as our favourite band tears up the stage, putting off the inevitable trip. Eventually, however, we all have to admit defeat and give in to the reveller’s worst nightmare: The Festival Portaloo.
Combining a minimalistic design with some innovative engineering, industrial design engineer Virginia Gardiner has found the answer to festivalgoer’s prayers. Loowatt is an environmentally friendly, waterless-flushing toilet, bringing high-tech hygiene to the campsite; the award-winning design captures waste and turns it into clean, green electricity.
Greenpower is an electric car challenge that requires students, guided by their teachers and industry mentors, to design, build and then race an electric car.
The project was first launched in 1999 with just a handful of schools taking part. Since then, Greenpower has expanded greatly and is now working with over 8000 students in 500 schools across the UK. Students taking part in the initiative race their hand built cars in heats to qualify for the final race and be in with a chance of winning the title. However, the project isn’t just about winning. Greenpower is about gaining essential skills and knowledge in STEM subjects that could encourage students to consider a career in one of those areas.
Ten years ago the energy industry was focused on ‘peak oil’, while the shale gas revolution in the US had yet to start. As 2017 begins, what are the mega-trends that will shape the upcoming decades? Here, BP’s head of long-term planning, Dominic Emery, identifies what lies ahead, from the rapid growth in renewables to changing demographics.
Taps and toilets have the ability to change lives in the developing world. As an engineer, I have spent the majority of my career to date working in countries across Africa and Asia developing sustainable solutions to one of the world’s biggest crises. One in three people lack access to a toilet, while a tenth of the world has no access to safe water. Together, this leads to the deaths of around 900 under-fives every day.
There is no such thing as a ‘sustainable’ technology in engineering. Instead, the sustainability or appropriateness of technology depends on its fitness for purpose in a local context, as well a suitable introduction process.
On the 12 January 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Hispaniola; its epicentre just 16 miles outside Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Over the following week, more than 52 aftershocks rumbled across the country, laying waste to more than a quarter of a million homes and taking the lives of an estimated 160,000 people.
In a bid to add their expertise to the effort, a pair of design graduates from Chicago set about creating a product to assist the post-disaster relief operations. With the primary survival needs of food, water and shelter already in hand, their thoughts turned to the night-time dangers that haunted the cities of emergency tents. With this came their solution; LuminAID.
When it comes to building, an awful lot of material goes to waste, both at the birth and death of a project. In fact, the construction industry sends millions of tonnes of waste to landfill every year, at a huge cost to itself.
In addition to this, new laws mean that by 2020 70% of all construction and demolition waste in UK must be recycled, while none will be allowed to go to landfill. This, coupled with the cost of waste disposal, has set the construction industry on the hunt for materials that are both good for the environment and good for their bottom lines.
Dr Sam Chapman and his spin-out KENOTEQ think they have the solution to just such a problem.
When it comes to generating electricity, things have pretty much stayed the same way since the 19th century. Sure, we now have coal, gas and even nuclear powered electricity generators, not to mention a wealth of renewable energy sources, but the principles have remained the same for centuries.
Almost all of our electrical power is produced by turbines, which in turn drive a generator. The turbines themselves can be powered by any number of sources, such as wind, water, steam, or burning gas. Most of our electricity is delivered by ‘heat engines’, which convert thermal energy into mechanical energy. For example, in most major power plants, coal (or other fossil fuels) are burned to boil water. This then produces steam which powers the turbines and drives the generator, giving us electricity.