5 Developing Energy Engineering Technologies Promoting a Greener Future

5 Developing Energy Engineering Technologies Promoting a Greener Future

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Pressure is mounting globally as climate change takes hold of our planet. The environment around us is evolving, which is driving the need for countries, governments, corporations and individuals to get more involved in the renewables and green energy sector.

The Paris Agreement came into effect at the end of 2016. It was signed by 197 parties, with the aim of significantly reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2017, the UK government announced a ban on the sale of new Petrol and Diesel cars by 2040, due to the ill effects on the planet and ultimately people’s health.

The time has come to really get onboard and embrace the use of cleaner forms of energy. With that in mind, here are 5 developing technologies that are focused on creating a greener future. For more helpful engineering advice, news and career opportunities, make sure you subscribe to NewEngineer.com here.

1. Biofuels

Current fuels used for transportation create massive amounts of pollution in the environment. Biofuels are transportation fuels that are made from recently living organisms, that can be regrown. They fall under three main categories:

  • First generation: conventional biofuels that are made predominantly from sugars, starches and plant oils that are mostly edible.

  • Second generation: these consists of nonedible cellulosic plant materials.

  • Third generation: this biofuel is produced from algae and other biological processes.

Biofuels have been around for some time, but now they’re being developed further to help solve massive energy problems. Second and third generation biofuels have the greatest potential if they can become affordable, sustainable and scalable. Some airlines have already started using biofuels regularly.

2. Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells are an emerging green technology, and are considered a pollution free solution to combat the use of fossil fuels. They are currently being used and developed mostly in cars and spacecraft.

The fuel cell is created by combining hydrogen and oxygen. The energy from the chemical reaction creates usable electricity. There are no carbon dioxide greenhouse gases produced, making this an environmentally friendly alternative to petrol and diesel. In addition, hydrogen fuel cells are very efficient, making them even more desirable.


3. Electric Cars

With the UK government banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, the already progressive electric car industry is set to boom. Tesla is the best known for publicly documenting progress in the sector, though almost all car manufacturers are pumping millions into researching and developing new technologies aimed at the mass public.

There are huge benefits already apparent from electric cars, the main one of course being no exhaust emissions. In addition, they are quick and quiet, cheap to run, and can be charged at home. There is certainly room for development though, and this is where you can expect to see the most progress in the coming years. Things like the limited distance range, the long time taken to recharge, current lack of choice and the upfront costs are negatives that need to be addressed.

4. Thermo-Depolymerization

By using Thermo-depolymerization, carbon based waste, combined with sufficient heat and pressure can be used to manufacture oil. The process essentially mimics how nature produces oil, but has the benefit of control, meaning it can be much more rapid. Although the demand for oil is set to decrease as new greener forms of energy take over, it’s still an extremely valuable commodity. Not only can Thermo-Depolymerization create such a valuable commodity, but the fact that it turns carbon based waste into something so important is extremely beneficial to the environment.

5. Perovskite solar cells

Solar cells are already popular in many countries. However the silicon cells that are currently the most prominent in the market have limitations. Current silicon panels have poor power conversion efficiency, are heavy and rigid, and the form of silicon needed requires a lot of energy to process.

New solar cells made from a range of materials called Perovskites have the potential to address these issues and step up the production of electricity from the sun. Manufacturers can produce thin films from Perovskites that weigh very little. Some important questions still need to be answered, such as their durability over a period of years and how to industrialize the process to compete with current silicon panels for example. Progress appears positive though, and Perovskite solar panels have the potential to bring solar power to remote locations not currently on the grid.

There’s no doubt that climate change is happening, after years of neglect for our planet. With the effects becoming clearer, issues are finally being addressed which is vital for future generations. Research, development and advances of the technologies discussed above, along with many others have a real chance to slow down climate change for a greener future.

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