Global Engineering

Excellent Environmental Engineering Ideas

While there may currently be a paucity of cash and a shortage of resources, the one thing the world has never lacked is ingenuity. There are more incentives to invest in energy efficiency during an economic decline and when oil prices have gone through the roof! Constraint is often the breeding ground for incredible innovation.

In the same way that enjoying games online, shopping for food and clothing over the internet, and using virtual match-making applications like Tinder have become necessary due to global expansion, we need to start thinking outside the box to ensure there’s a future for human beings on this planet.

Biochar: Trapping Carbon With Green Coal

Any biomass waste releases carbon as it decays. But it can also be burned in a kiln by pyrolysis, an airless technique which creates biochar, or green coal. This can then be dug back into the ground to lock carbon into the soil, a system invented by ancient civilisations in South America.

While the process is nothing new, its use in mitigating the current predicament of out-of-control greenhouse gas emissions is.

Fertilising the Ocean: Using Iron Dust to Remove Carbon

It is a fact that our oceans are the biggest global sink, soaking up two billion tonnes of carbon annually. Spreading iron dust on these waters could activate massive plankton blooms, the size of a small city. These algae would subsequently absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and when it dies it would sink to the bottom of the sea and be absorbed into the ocean floor.

Proponents of this idea have suggested that it would take only 5 to 10 ships carrying ore to deposit iron sulphate into the waters and that the phytoplankton thus created could potentially remove one trillion kilograms of CO2 each year.

Hydrogen Cargo Ships for Emissions-Free Shipping

This unlikely vehicle of environmental engineering revolution, although still some way off a transatlantic foray, is the Ross Barlow. It’s a maintenance vessel formerly used by British Waterways which Birmingham University in the United Kingdom converted.

The Ross Barlow is believed to be the first-ever hydrogen-hybrid canal boat and works by using a system to store hydrogen in lithium hydride powder which can be refilled when necessary.

Species Relocation to Give Threatened Animals a New Home

It’s easy to see why the sad state of the mustang, under threat from what is euphemistically-termed federal euthanasia, has caught the attention of conservationists.

Authorities have recently decreed that the 30 000+ mustang population roaming free on public lands across the American West must be trimmed by 6 000 because they are in competition for food resources with cattle ranchers. But the response has raised a few eyebrows as well: moving the horses to another part of the country.

While this may go against the grain of historical conservation practices, which are usually focussed on making the best of a bad job, as in the case of conservation corridors being constructed for elephants around trouble spots and depleted areas, there’s no alternative. Pragmatists are in support of this measure, saying it’s about cutting losses and preventing total extinction.