Tag: Sustainable Engineering

LEED certification

LEED certification

LEED certification


“How can we quantify the sustainability of buildings?”
Buildings are amongst the most important facets of our civilization. Because of them, we can live, work, and play freely. But like most things created by humans, they take up environmental resources. And since we want to be as sustainable as possible, we need some way to measure the environmental impact of each building. That’s why the United States Green Building Council has developed a certification system called LEED. LEED works by giving “points” for each sustainable activity the building does, whether it be brownfield redevelopment energy optimization, or using regional materials. Based upon these points, the building may be awarded a LEED certification (with levels specified by the figure) and become eligible for incentives such as tax credits. Because of the system’s success, numerous countries around the world have expressed interest in the system, including the rapidly developing India and China.

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration


“What is one possibility to solve renewable energy storage?”


Subject Solar Energy / Storage Innovations

Date: October 11, 2017


I am writing to you to inform you about recent difficulties in solar energy integration. As it stands, solar energy is generated in an active form, meaning that once created it must be used immediately. To solve this, we can deploy Lithium-ion batteries to act as reservoirs.


Lithium-Ion Batteries have properties that make them a strong option for renewable energy integration. Lithium-ion batteries are composed of lithium and carbon, giving them special characteristics. However, these same properties also give Lithium-Ion Batteries special problems, such as being prone to spontaneous explosions. (Brain, 2006)



One of the major bottlenecks to renewable energy integration is a lack of viable storage mechanisms. One of the most viable solutions, battery systems, has numerous drawbacks. They can take up large amounts of space, and provide a low energy to space ratio. Consequentially, the current battery technology paradigm needs to be overhauled.




Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies are a new battery technology. Because of their unique properties, they hold much potential for Renewable Energy Storage. However, this same composition that makes it special also makes it potent for mishap.


Lithium-ion Batteries include numerous advantages. Their much more energy dense, meaning that a small volume can hold a lot of charge, bypassing the previous space issue. They also tend to keep this charge, losing only 5%/month compared to the average 20%/month, allowing renewable energy to be stored for a longer time. They also can also be charged before they run out of power and can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles, making them quite viable for being used as battery storage with the dynamic character of renewable energy. (Brain, 2006)


These batteries also come with numerous drawbacks. They start degrading once manufactured, decay faster in the presence of high temperatures, are ruined upon complete discharge, require an onboard control system, and most importantly, may burst into flame spontaneously if it overheats. (Brain, 2006)

How we can overcome this

Keep these batteries in low-temperature facilities. This will keep their charge more stable, have it degrade slower, and most importantly prevent spontaneous explosions.



Even with their flaws, Lithium-ion technology holds much potential for use in renewable energy integration. Their high energy density combined with their ability to handle dynamics charging and discharging gives them an unparalleled capacity to work with renewable energy. If we can store them in colder locations, then we can also greatly reduce their drawbacks.



Brain, Marshall. “How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work.” How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work | HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 14 Nov. 2006, electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/lithium-ion-battery.htm.


How microgrids can help get Puerto Rico back on its feet

How microgrids can help get Puerto Rico back on its feet

How microgrids can help get Puerto Rico back on its feet


“How can the people of Puerto Rico use microgrid technology to help get their infrastructure up and running?”


For those of you who are out of the loop, a recent hurricane has totaled the energy infrastructure of Puerto Rico. As much as 95% of the island is out of power, affecting around 3.5 million individuals! But how can the people of Puerto Rico use their engineering mindset to fix this problem? Well, if they have been keeping up on recent trends, then they might have heard of a little technology called microgrids. They can be set up much quicker than for a centralized grid to be repaired and are even cheaper to run. The German company Sonnen GmbH is already supplying the people of Puerto Rico with these much-needed systems.

Carbon taxes

Carbon taxes

Carbon taxes


“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.

Big companies buying large amounts of wind energy

Big companies buying large amounts of wind energy

Big companies buying large amounts of wind energy


“Why are big companies buying large amounts of wind energy?”


There is a sustainable revolution going on, and it is being done by some of the least likely actors. Large companies such as Google, Amazon, and Walmart are beginning to purchase large swaths of wind energy to power their data centers and offices! Their reason? Because wind energy has achieved grid parity in some areas, it makes more sense to power your operations through renewable energy! This will increase the amount of sustainable energy on the grid and might convince more citizens to make the switch

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


“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


“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