“Engineers have played a central role in creating today’s advanced technological society; from the steam turbine to the smart phone, the internal combustion engine to the internet. Many challenges have been overcome, but as soon as one problem is solved, another comes along, even more demanding. The world of energy is case in point,” said Bob Dudley, Group CEO of BP when addressing the QEPrize Create the Future report.
Professor Frances Arnold, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at Caltech, USA, went on to add, “Sustainable energy technology is the basis of a sustainable society. Meeting growing needs and expectations will require real engineering creativity.”
Resolving the energy challenge to produce clean, affordable energy and lift millions out of poverty through promoting development has, as such, become one of the great missions of this century. Throughout May, we will be exploring the approaches different engineers have taken in tackling the issue.
Highlighted in the Create the Future report, three quarters of respondents believed that in the next 20 years engineering can improve technology surrounding renewable energy, while more than 60% felt engineers would be able to positively address climate change, and other negative environmental impacts caused by energy generation over time. To start us off on our exploration of energy, Australian engineer Coco Wong tells the story of her journey with BP, as she raced down the length of Australia in a solar powered car she had made herself.
Dr Mercy Manyuchi, a chemical engineer from the Harare Institute of Technology in Zimbabwe, introduces us to her biofuel briquettes, an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to charcoal, designed for safe use in homes across Africa. The briquettes, which led to Dr Manyuchi being shortlisted for the 2015 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, are made from agricultural waste materials, which would otherwise be discarded, providing an alternative to expensive and finite resources such as wood and coal.
Throughout the month, we will also be featuring guest blogs from several QEPrize Ambassadors working within the energy industry, who will give us an insight into what goes into powering the world. But it’s not all about using energy to power our homes and cars. This month BAE Systems also take a look at the technology that is making the most of harnessing human energy, as they team up with British Cycling in a bid to win gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.