The 20th century is marked by rapid economic growth that made extensive use of natural and energy resources. It is inconceivable to imagine modern life without the items that industries produce. The greatest challenge of our time is to develop new approaches based on environmentally friendly design and manufacturing, to avoid the production of waste or pollutants, to keep production costs reasonable in the face of rising demand, to increase the ability of products to be recycled or reused, and to introduce serious ecological improvements ultimately.
Aspects of daily life like agriculture, building, transportation, electronics, and well-being employ these products. Their operations, however, harm the environment and human health because they produce waste, discharge hazardous chemicals, and emit more greenhouse gases. As a result, new priorities are being driven by this issue, emphasizing “green” in everything from processes to technologies to goods. To reform engineering disciplines and advance sustainability, green engineering is a crucial strategy. The idea of sustainability is to create and use technologically and financially sound products that satisfy human needs while preserving the environment. Different disciplines in Engineering domains can promote green engineering in their ways.
The following paragraphs list some of the viable ways through which these disciplines can enhance sustainability.
If anything, this era is a watershed moment in the history of Artificial Intelligence. Big Data, hardware, and increasingly complex AI algorithms seem to be coming together to alter our daily lives significantly. These advancements make it seem easier than it once did to save the planet Earth. The supply and demand of renewable energy can be controlled by artificial intelligence by using its strong prediction skills and intelligent grid systems. Additionally, it can improve energy storage and utilization efficiency, improve load management, and support the search for cleaner energy sources. “As the renewable energy sector grows, this is going to be a critical area of opportunity for mechanical engineers,” says Michigan State University, which offers a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree, adding that “it is already one with significant skills need.”
Nowadays, smart houses that promote eco-friendly living and less waste are becoming more and more popular. These homes utilize cutting-edge sensors that enable daily energy conservation. Smart LED lighting is one notable example of resource conservation. Smart LED lighting uses less energy than traditional lighting and lasts far longer. Satellite imaging combined with artificial intelligence can detect changes in land use, vegetation, forest cover, and the effects of natural disasters. Robotics-assisted AI in agriculture makes it feasible to detect crop diseases and other problems early. Some technologies can be utilized to create predictive analytic models to track and anticipate numerous elements and variables that could affect future yields, in addition to the use of both artificial and bio-sensor-driven algorithms to provide thorough monitoring of the soil and crop yield. It also reduces the usage of water, fertilizers, and pesticides, all of which have a devastating effect on significant ecosystems.
With Alan Eddison’s remark, ‘Modern technology owes ecology an apology,’ environmental scientists have begun to focus on restoring the natural equilibrium that humans have disrupted. Drones, data (collected using smart collars), and digital mapping can all be used to track endangered wildlife. To protect endangered species from fatal diseases like cancer, gene sequencing techniques can be used “abide by the plastic brick road. In a short while, you might be dining or driving on your empty water bottles”. Researchers are proposing various remedies to this problem, such as eliminating plastic bottles and replacing them with seaweed-based containers. Other possibilities include melting plastic to make roads.
There are currently air cleaners on the market with an integrated artificial intelligence system that can collect environmental data and air quality in real-time and adjust the filtration effectiveness. In addition, AI-powered simulations can be used in metropolitan areas to alert residents to the pollution levels in their localities. This makes it possible to identify pollution sources considerably earlier than before.
Less than 20% of the estimated 300 million to 400 million electronic gadgets that are discarded annually in the United States alone are recycled. While e-waste is the most prominent environmental issue brought about by mobile device proliferation, there are other significant concerns. Potentially hazardous materials and chemicals used in mobile phones and other technological equipment can endanger both consumers’ and workers’ health. If not properly disposed of, these substances can also leak into the land, the air, and the water, posing serious health risks to both people and ecosystems. Electrical engineers are contributing to this sector by coming up with innovations for the collection, treatment, and disposal of e-waste. The lifetime of devices is increased to reduce the amount of e-waste.
One of the major industries that are most reliant on natural resources, like clay, stone, and wood for its building materials is the construction sector. Traditional construction techniques cause harmful waste and chemicals to pile up, many of which would take hundreds of years to decompose. Using biodegradable materials to implement material efficiency is one of the fundamental ideas behind a sustainable building.
The environment is directly and substantially impacted by engineering practices. If the correct tools and options are used, these approaches can either exacerbate growing environmental challenges or guide us towards sustainability. As such, green engineering is an effective strategy that provides guidance and support for the development of sustainable processes, products, and systems while lowering the hazards to humans and the environment. Future sustainable societal growth depends on the industry “greening” with the adoption of procedures that offer suitable environmental protection.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Nisha P Shetty is Assistant Professor – Senior Scale at I and CT Department, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal.