Category: Engineering

A quick note on the sustainability of electric vehicles

A quick note on the sustainability of electric vehicles

A quick note on the sustainability of electric vehicles

Isaac Gendler

06/25/17

“How effective are electric vehicles at promoting sustainability?”

 

Electric vehicles are often touted as one of the drivers of the frontier of sustainability. However, one should keep in mind that electric vehicles draw their power from the grid, and if the grid is not powered by sustainable sources then electric vehicles will not be sustainable either. So one when we continue the battle against greenhouse gases in transportation, we must keep in mind that we must not limit our efforts to only one field.

Pumped hydrogen storage

Pumped hydrogen storage

Pumped hydrogen storage

06/24/17

“How can we use a gravitational potential to store energy?”

 

If you have ever taken an introductory physics class, then you know that anything with a mass at some distance from the Earth has an energy potential associated with it given by the equation P.E = mgh, with m being the mass g being gravity and h being the height. So logically speaking, if we were to vastly increase the mass then we would also vastly increase the potential energy. So if we have a large enough mass, we can store enough energy for an electric grid!

 

This is the exact idea behind a technology known as pumped hydrogen storage. Pumped hydrogen storage takes two water reservoirs at a height gradient, and discharges energy to the grid by moving the water through a turbine and stores more energy by using a grid powered pump increase the level of water on the top layer

Solar Communications Security System

Solar Communications Security System

Solar Communications Security System

06/22/17

Isaac Gendler

“Can solar powered grid systems have security systems in place?”

 

Solar power is often fused to the surrounding energy community through the use of smart grids. However, such systems are prone to cyber attacks. After realizing the potential consequences of such actions,  researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, United Technologies Research Center, and Pacific Northwestern National Laboratory have joined forces (with a hefty 900,000 USD grant from the U.S Department of Energy) to develop a generic cybersecurity system for monitoring communications between distributed resource energy generators (such as solar). This would ensure the safety of customers when using such systems, and can galvanize electric utility providers to switch to clean and sustainable energy!

Low-cost air pollution sensors

Low-cost air pollution sensors

Low-cost air pollution sensors

Isaac Gendler

06/18/17

“How can we produce low-cost air pollution sensors?”

 

Air pollution sensors are absolutely necessary for policy making. But for many developing countries, such technology is often too expensive. So how can we make the costs less prohibitive? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to figure this out. We know that the main cost of monitoring air pollution comes from deploying sensors. But humans all over the world are already carrying advanced sensors with them, smartphones! A team at the University of California San Diego have developed a series of sensors that can communicate with a user’s smartphone using an app called CitiSense to perform real-time pollution monitoring. The goal of this project is to eventually to create a system in which entire communities can use to gather pollution data

Air pollution sensors

Air pollution sensors

Air pollution sensors

06/17/17

“How can we monitor air pollution?”

 

With the advent of industrialization, air pollution has become a significant issue in many parts of the world, inducing grievous health issues and productivity impairments. As such, governments and independent organizations are taking action to reduce this nefarious trend. However, before we can take steps to eliminate pollution, we must first know how much needs to be eliminated. To do this, engineers have developed air pollution sensors which can analyze the atmosphere for certain elements (ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide) for human analysis

Circuit Soldering

Circuit Soldering

Circuit Soldering

06/16/17

“How can we attach two conductive wires together?”

 

Engineers commonly run into a problem. When working with circuits, we may need to extend our wire. However, it is physically impossible to do such a thing

 

Or is it?

 

Luckily for us, engineers can do the impossible. Let’s start with a few basic principles. We know that wires can conduct electricity. We also know that metal can also conduct electricity. And we also know that if we were to solidify a liquid that was between two objects it would connect the objects. So what if we were to take two circuits, expose their conductive centers, and then quickly melt some conductive metal between them to cause an attachment? Well, this is the process of soldering, which just so happens to be one of the most vital skills that any engineer needs to know.

How to make faucets more sustainable

How to make faucets more sustainable

How to make faucets more sustainable

Isaac Gendler

06/15/17

“How can we make our faucets more sustainable?”

 

I want you to think about something. What exactly do you use to clean yourself after you have used the restroom? Well, if you live in a developed country, then you probably immediately think of faucets. Quite simply, without faucets, we would be unable to function in our daily lives! However, as engineers, we must always think more critically not just about the outputs of a system but the inputs as well. Specifically, faucets use water for their operation. And since water is an increasingly finite resource (especially in dry areas such as California), how can we modify these mechanisms to be more sustainable? Well, believe it or not, there is a very simple solution for this, having the faucets use less pressure! When less pressure is used, a smaller volume of water will be transported, thereby using less water!