Updated: Aug 28, 2020
By Stojan Tasevski
Kumanovo, North Macedonia
Environmental change has been a rising concern in the last 60 years. Scientists and engineers have been trying to detect the problems and find solutions for a greener future. Protecting and improving environmental quality is an issue that is handled by environmental engineers. This gallant profession tackles environmental concerns by inventing revolutionary technologies adapted to help human society and the environment. Major categories of environmental engineering consist of public health, recycling, wastewater treatment, solid waste disposal, water supply, pollution control, toxic material regulation, land management, hazardous waste management, and radiation protection.
There have been many revolutionary inventions that helped the environmental sustainability, but we will discuss some accomplished inventions that might change the future of environmental sustainability as we know it.
1. Electric Vehicles (EV)
Electric cars are not as new as people would think. The first electric car was manufactured in the 1880s and they were quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Environmental sustainability wasn’t the initial reason these cars were invented, but with the rise of greenhouse gases in the last 70 years they drew more attention from environmental engineers to improve urban air quality. Opposed to ordinary internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs benefit the environment in many aspects, some of which are reducing air pollution, reducing noise pollution, cost-efficient, and more.
2. Air Purifiers
Mexico, being one of the most air polluted countries in the world, has many home-grown companies trying to develop environmentally friendly technologies. Such a company is Biomitech, and they created an urban air purifier designed to clean the air in large cities using micro-algae. The BioUrban is an air purification system where air pollutants are digested by the micro-algae which in return produce oxygenated air and the algae biomass saturated with pollutants is then created into a biofuel. Everything in this system is environmentally friendly.Opposed to urban air purifiers, a huge industrial-scale machine designed to capture enormous amounts of carbon dioxide has been built in Switzerland by a company named Climeworks. It is designed to capture 900 tons of carbon dioxide, which afterward will be used to help grow vegetables in a greenhouse.
3. Electric Aircraft
Commercial airplanes are known to cause a lot of air pollution by emitting an extensive amount of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and water vapor which contributes to global warming. The best way to deal with this problem is by using electric airplanes. They could be powered by solar cells, batteries, ground power cables, fuel cells, power beaming, and ultra receptors. One of the most recognized electric airplanes built to raise awareness of clean technology and the renewable energy source is the Solar Impulse plane. It is powered by solar cells placed into its wings which charge lithium batteries that power four electric motors. The aircraft is made from ultra-light material so that its energy efficient.
4. High Altitude Wind Energy from Kites
Renewable energy systems are the most sought after inventions simply because they don’t deplete in resources to produce energy. Harnessing the power of the wind is usually done with windmills which cost more to produce and maintain. A whole new perspective is high altitude wind energy kites. Kitenergy is a product designed to harness energy from high-altitude winds, which can potentially generate twice as much power at half the cost of modern ground-level wind turbines. The kite is made from carbon fiber and is around a hundred feet long attached with four propellers. They are so light that they can maintain altitude in winds slower than 15 miles per hour.
5. Marine Plastic Cleaners
Marine plastic is a rising global problem which, it’s safe to say, it’s been taken seriously. Around 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, which marine species ingest or get entangled in them resulting in severe injuries and death. Initial solutions to address this problem would be raising awareness about plastic pollution, but since we are past that point environmental engineers thought of ways to deal with this problem. Seabin is a unit designed to clean the oceans by skimming the surface of a water body by pumping water into the device. It’s usually installed near yacht clubs, ports, marinas, or any calm water body.
Another invention called the Interceptor designed by Boyan Slat and his non-profit organization, the Ocean Cleanup, is designed to collect marine plastic from rivers before they go into the sea. Ocean Cleanups has been running since 2013 and is planning to rid the ocean of plastic with a fleet of floating trash collectors.
Regarding Earth’s pollution, we as a human race need to be more aware of our impact on the world for its not nature’s obligation to adapt to our needs, it is our obligation to adapt to nature’s needs so it can benefit us all. In the end, the Earth is what we all have in common.
Thank you for reading!