Green Engineering, What Is It?

by Jody Singleton

Clean Energy Act, RoHS & WEEE

WEEE As of August 13, 2005, producers have been required to finance the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of all Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment

RoHS As of July 1 2006 Electrical & Electronic Equipment may no longer be sold in the European Union if it contains any of six banned substance Restriction of Hazardous Substances On March 1 2007 the first phase of Administration on the Control of Pollution Caused by Electronic Information Products came into effect.

The Climate Control Bill introduced by Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) & Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in May of 2009 introduced the most recent version of the American Clean Energy & Security Act and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by the year 2020. It would distribute up to 85 percent of pollution permits in a proposed cap-and-trade program.

The Carrot & Stick

Cash & Energy Savings Using Wireless Sensor Networks

Industries everywhere are finding ways to save not only on energy and it’s costs but through the use of wireless networks, in numerous other ways too.

According to Oak Ridge National Laboratories, through the use of wireless sensor networks, savings on energy for motors used in industrial processes could improve efficiency by 20%, resulting in significant cost savings. Wayne Manges said: “With electric motor-driven systems accounting for nearly one-fourth of all electricity consumption in the United States, the potential for savings is huge.”

The Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program works with US industry to improve environmental performance and energy efficiency. The ITP is distributing 15 million to support R&D specifically to improve energy efficiency in industrial processes. Already a number of new wireless sensor products are being developed together with the Department of Energy.

Cost savings with wireless systems are recognized in multiple areas including materials and labor where the cost of running wire in plants ranges between $155 and $3,700 per foot. The typical payback for wired systems is 24 months and less than a quarter of that for a wireless equivalent, only six months. Add in the on-going energy savings and the return on investment decision is very clear.

In a large number of industries, companies are recasting their product lines to implement wireless technologies. “We can’t think of any segment of the industry that isn’t going to be impacted by this,” states Honeywell’s CTO Dan Shiflin.

Wireless sensor networks of all varieties are exploding into our world. There is a massive amount of research & development, from academia to start-ups, pushing to create proverbial “better-faster-cheaper” products. A growing number of products are based on an emerging specification “ZigBee”. A majority of utility companies that have settled on a standard have identified ZigBee as their preference due in main to its inherent security capabilities. Real-time data from wireless sensors networks will enable companies to achieve greater productivity and efficiency by continually improving their processes.

Named BP International’s first Director of Technology & Sensory Networks, for the oil company’s Technology Office, Ken Douglas said “You don’t ask people ‘How would you use ZigBee?’ Because they don’t know, but if you ask them: ‘How would you use information that you can now access for the first time?’ They have to think about it for a bit, but then the ideas just starting pouring out.”

In addition to the benefits of ZigBee’s security layers, the mesh network is highly reliable, flexible and can connect a variety of sensors simultaneously including protocols such as OPC, Modbus and HART.

Companies whose product objectives include reducing costs or waste, more reliable equipment management; improved physical asset control or greater situational awareness should investigate the variety of capabilities wireless sensor systems can provide. In addition to the potential savings in energy, there are likely many additional cash benefits to be found.

The technologies for green engineering are not only cost effective, if done right, they are cash positive. When it comes to the design and development of products that are energy efficient and eco-friendly, as well as cost effective, wireless sensor networks make “better faster cheaper” energy saving products. Electronic designs using Zigbee products are making home sensors and energy saving devices a reality. It is less expensive when you get smarter, simpler products with better resource utilization while conserving precious resources.

Engineering…great profession…

Engineering … it is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.

– Herbert Hoover, Civil Engineer, 1929. 31st President