“What happens to electronics when they wear out?”
Electronics are embedded into the fabric of everyday life. Whether it be in the computers we work with, the batteries to run our cars or the smartphones that we use to communicate with our friends. However, after a while, these items will become worn down by continual use and must be discarded. So how exactly does the waste process for electronics work?
Before we begin any process, we must recognize that electronics have toxic chemicals. These chemicals make it particularly difficult for dealing with electronic waste in any normal sort of fashion since improper disposal in a landfill can wreck hazards on the local environment. Since electronic waste fits into its own special category, such material has been labeled as E-waste.
To properly get rid of E-waste, individuals must bring it to a special E-waste processing facility. These units can intake all discarded electronics such as monitors, cell phones, radios, televisions, and computers and recycle all useable parts. E-waste facilities are a great way to deal with hazardous electronic waste.
“How can we maximize or minimize a set of linear equations?”
Often times, when working on problems, we have multiple variables related by multiple equations. For example, let’s start out with this situation. Let’s say we have two machine parts x and y that cost 2 dollars and 5 dollars to make respectively, symbolically p(x,y) = 2x + 5y. And let’s also say that we have to make a total of 100 machine parts respectively, or x + y = 100 (blue). And let’s also say that 202 times the number of part x and 5 times the number of part y must be equal to 1400, or 20x + 5y = 1400 (green). So how can we find the minimum price that meets all of our production needs? Well, let’s plot it on a graph (pictured), check all of the points of intersection (In this case (0,100), (60,40) and (100,0) ), and then see which of these points return the minimum desired quantity (In this case (0,100) –> $200). Linear programming can be applied to all forms of applications, ranging from engineering economic systems to control theory and even to general business!
“What is Industrial Ecology?”
Things are changing on Earth. Climate levels are rising, the human population is expanding, and industrialization is increasing, while our natural resources are going down down down. So how can we create a framework that studies how all of these complex systems interact with one another? Well, after many years of research, an entirely new scientific field has formed, industrial ecology. Industrial ecology is the study of how energy and resources flow through our modern industrial system. Industrial ecology looks at this issue through a multitude of perspectives, such as engineering, economics, natural sciences, and sociology.
“How can we fight pollution using economics?”
There are many tools available to achieve sustainable development. The ones most often talked about on this blog are technological in nature. However, engineering is not the only way to fight for a cleaner future, and another tool at our disposal are those of economic nature. So let’s think of one possible solution using financial motivation. Well, it is commonly known that individuals do not like to have money taken away from them. So what if we were to take money away from people who pollute too much? This is the fundamental idea behind a carbon tax and can be used by policy makers to influence people to adopt more sustainable practices.
How installing a microgrid can save money
“Is it possible for a town to save money by installing a microgrid?”
One of the biggest criticisms of microgrids is that they are too expensive to implement. However, the town of Sterling, Massachusetts proves that wrong. Sterling Massachusetts has recently installed a 2-megawatt battery attached to a microgrid with a 3-megawatt solar panel that can support the town’s police station and emergency dispatch center for at least two weeks in case of an emergency situation. During peak use, the batteries can discharge and power homes, eliminating the need for external energy transmission. This technology saves the town up to $400K per year and is attracting visitors from Japan to Germany. Read more Sterling here.
“How do meat thermometers work?”
Meat thermometers are used every day to measure the temperature of meats. However, how exactly do they work? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to find out. If we were to deconstruct one of these machines, then we would find out that inside the thermometer are two strips of metal with different heat coefficients. Upon the application of heat, both of these will expand at different rates, inducing twisting and therefore changing the dial at a constant rate!
The Paris Agreement
“What is the Paris Agreement?”
Ever since some particular orange haired man decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement, people have been wondering what exactly it is and what a pull out what mean. Well, as I always say, let’s use our scientific mindsets to find out.
Ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the climate of the Earth has been rising at an exponential rate, so much so that we have come to the point that immediate global policy must be taken. Back in April 2016, nations from all over the world convened in the city of Paris to sign a treaty that stipulates the following:
- Keep the future global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
- Aim to limit this temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid environmental catastrophes
- Curb global emissions as much as possible
- For all nations to come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets as required by science
- Report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets,
- Track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system.
- For developed countries support and assist developing countries in implementing such policies and curbing emissions
By withdrawing from this agreement as one of the heaviest global polluters, the United States will become a dead weight that will slow the rest of the world to achieving all of these goals. If you are reading this and are an American citizen, please, call your senator to urge the president to rescind their previous statement regarding withdrawal.