• Question: Do you do environmental stuff

    Asked by isabelleculf on 27 Apr 2020.
    • Photo: Rohin Titmarsh

      Rohin Titmarsh answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      In a way yes, I look at how we can make batteries for electric vehicles. I focus more on the manufacturing and assembly side, so how we can make batteries at a large enough scale to make electric vehicles. But this also involves considering what impact the manufacturing and assembly process will have on the environment. This is one of the things that helps us choose which process to use in assembly.

    • Photo: Conrad Manning

      Conrad Manning answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      In a way yes, we look to improve boat shapes so that less energy is required to move it through the water. As less energy is required the boat can either go faster or use less fuel to go the same speed.

      One of the interesting projects that we worked on was on a container/bulk ship where we looked at just the bow and managed to improve the efficiency by >10% which when added up is 1000s of tonnes of fuel (and emissions) over it’s lifetime.

    • Photo: Graeme Ralph

      Graeme Ralph answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      There’s two ways we are trying to reduce our impact on the environment;

      1. Design aircraft from new lighter materials to reduce the amount of fuel required and long term meet the need to get electrical engines working

      2. Making our manufacturing processes greener by using less compressed air, using fluids to clean and help cut that are 90% water and can be recycled and our new building include solar panels and improvements regarding energy efficiency

    • Photo: Kimberly Bartlett

      Kimberly Bartlett answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      We do on site and desktop assessments of the effect light has on sensitive animals and plants. All bats are protected in the UK and some types are so sensitive about light that it acts almost like a wall when they reach it. If the lights cross one of their flight paths they can’t go through it and will just go back home hungry.

    • Photo: Heather Lamming

      Heather Lamming answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Not exactly in my day to day role but my Company is looking at how to generate electricity in a more greener way by looking at burning hydrogen in with the gas or liquid fuel to reduce the emissions of the turbines to lower levels.

    • Photo: Katie Sparks

      Katie Sparks answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      I don’t directly work on environmental things, but some of the spacecraft I have worked on measure the health of the planet.
      For example, I worked on “EarthCARE”, which is a European Space Agency mission that will orbit the Earth, looking at the whole planet, covering the same place every 16 days. It will measure things like temperature, ozone and pollution for every place. This means scientists can build up a picture of how things are at lots of places across the world and how they are changing.

    • Photo: Amber Villegas - Williamson

      Amber Villegas - Williamson answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Hiya, Engineers are always thinking about how we impact the environment. With Data Centers we use A LOT of electricity, like crazy amounts so we are always looking for ways to be more efficient. Data Centers are also looking for ways to use renewable resources for power and cooling, there are some Data Centers that use cold water from Fjords (really really deep “rivers” in Scandinavia), some Data Centers use only renewable energy.

    • Photo: Francis Batchelor

      Francis Batchelor answered on 27 Apr 2020: last edited 27 Apr 2020 10:27 am


      When making plastics we are working on a lot of projects that will reduce the impact to the environment. We are wanting to promote what is called the “circular economy” as much as possible, where we can make new products from recycled material. When the recycled material comes back in, it isn’t as pure as new, straight from the oil raw material; so that means we have to work with it differently to produce plastics that will do the same job.
      If you look at plastic food packets, you will see a triangle recycling sign with a number in it stamped somewhere on it. This tells you the type of plastic it is. If we would be able to separate all the types of plastic from each other and recycle them, then it would make it a really easy job once it comes back to us to make new products, but there isn’t the organisation from government there to do that.
      Making this circle work depends on the actions of people to put the plastic they use in the right place when they’re done with it rather than litter it. We can deal with it and make different plastics to keep your food fresh and undamaged, but all parts of the circle need to work.

    • Photo: Lorenzo Molinari

      Lorenzo Molinari answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      As a Biomedical Engineer, I didn’t deal much with the environment. I have friends in my course who completed research projects investigating what the best material, in terms of durability and recyclability, would be when designing electrical stimulators. Civil Engineering has a lot more concerns with regards to the environment, especially when talking about the built environment, roads and water treatments.

    • Photo: Graham Lee

      Graham Lee answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Not directly… I work on making autonomous/self driving cars a reality. When they are ready and when they are everywhere (cities, towns…) it would be very easy for people to get from one place to another without the need to own a car. Fewer cars and more efficient running of all the autonomous cars will have less of an impact on the overall environment!

    • Photo: Emily Cheung

      Emily Cheung answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      I work in renewable energy so my work contributes to the new construction of renewable energy power plants, such as wind and solar. However, aside from the obvious contribution to the environment by cutting carbon emissions, the development of the power plants involves ensuring the impact on the environment is minimised. This could be from providing additional wildlife protection measures, to restoring roads and crane pads once construction is done, to creating new habitats.

    • Photo: Rosina Simmons

      Rosina Simmons answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Hello Isabelle!
      I work with offshore wind turbines, which make electricity for us in the UK from the wind. It’s more environmental compared to burning coal or gas in normal power plants which make electricity.
      My job with the offshore wind turbines to make sure that they stay upright, and any problems like rust or cracks that might form (because they age quicker in the sea than they otherwise would on land) are fixed.

    • Photo: Conor Tickner

      Conor Tickner answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      I work as an engineering consultant in acoustics, so I do a lot of environmental work as well as engineering work, but usually the more environmental the work is, the less engineering-oriented it is.
      For example, I contribute a lot to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Environmental Statements (ES) for large infrastructure projects, as well as undertaking noise impact assessments for various smaller projects like industrial site planning applications.
      My work includes some design of noise mitigation (e.g. noise barriers, low noise surfacing, equipment mitigation design), inputs into refinement of scheme designs overall (e.g. road alignments), and assessment of the noise impacts on residents. The assessment side is less engineering-oriented, but definitely environmental.
      I’m also occasionally involved in underwater acoustics assessments, evaluating noise impacts on marine animals, but this is less about design and engineering, and usually consists more of evaluating the effect of a known activity.

    • Photo: Tom Stewart-Brackenridge

      Tom Stewart-Brackenridge answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      I do not work directly with environmental stuff, but my job does require me to design products that are environmentally friendly. Such as using sustainable materials, bio-degradable sometimes depending on the usage, as well as carrying out simulations and sustainability studies to see how the product would affect the environment. These studies look at the manufacturing process as a whole, looking at the carbon footprint of creating such products and how we as engineers can offset those emissions.

    • Photo: Nicola Grahamslaw

      Nicola Grahamslaw answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      I think at the moment the environment is important to all engineers! My work uses quite a lot of energy so one of my research projects is working out how we can reduce that, and then working out how to help people who don’t have their own expert engineer advisor to reduce their gas and electricity use too.

    • Photo: Brian Buckman

      Brian Buckman answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Not directly, however, the work I do allows various NGOs in Africa to perform their work more effectively. Some of these organisations are working on improving or stopping the degrading of the environment. Others provide medical or other support to the people living there. When I started my career I did hands-on development work, but as I have progressed my job involves managing and mentoring the team members that make the discoveries.

    • Photo: Callum Girdwood

      Callum Girdwood answered on 27 Apr 2020: last edited 27 Apr 2020 10:49 am


      Hi Isabelle,

      That depends what you mean by environmental stuff?

      In my particular role I don’t specifically work on environmental projects. However, for my project assessing our impact on the environment is something that is very important. In fact the official description of my project includes the following “is to provide a safe, environmentally responsible and cost effective solution”, so being environmentally responsible is very important to us.

      Alongside this I (as with many engineers) try to be environmentally responsible, because doing little things can add up to a lot. Reducing printing, those video conferencing rather than travelling for meetings, etc. In fact the current lockdown is proving a great way of encouraging people to work in new ways which often have a benefit of being more environmentally friendly.

      Hopefully this answers your question but if you had something more specific in mind, please feel free to ask more!

    • Photo: Kate Davies

      Kate Davies answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Hi Isabelle,

      What sort of environmental stuff are you looking for?

      At the moment I work for a department that researches fuel efficiency and various other areas of Ship and Submarine performance. We have also worked with companies within alternative energies to test tidal turbines and other equipment.

      All the Best,
      Kate

    • Photo: Juan Carlos Fallas-Chinchilla

      Juan Carlos Fallas-Chinchilla answered on 27 Apr 2020: last edited 27 Apr 2020 11:56 am


      Hi there,

      I have worked in projects involving renewable energy. In a hydroelectric project I was involved in turbines selection, to capture the energy of a water flow from a damp and transform it in electricity. My colleagues were electrical, civil and mechanical engineers but lots of people involved were from many other different STEM disciplines.

      I also worked in research for hydrogen storage materials to be used in cars. If you use electricity you can separate the hydrogen and the oxygen from water (H2O). But if you do the opposite (join hydrogen + oxygen to produce H2O) you can generate electricity, move a car and have water steam instead of smoke.

    • Photo: Joe York-Fisher

      Joe York-Fisher answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Environmental stuff is something that every industry must take into consideration.

      Everything that is made leaves a Carbon Footprint, which is the amount of Carbon Dioxide that is involved at every step; such as using electricity that is produced using gas power stations, and transporting stuff using trucks, boats, planes, trains etc.

      Everyone is (hopefully) doing their part to reduce their Carbon Footprint, for instance in my industry we are trying to make our engines more efficient so that they produce more power with less Carbon produced. Plus we are researching electric engines that do not produce Carbon Dioxide at all.

    • Photo: Rob Husband

      Rob Husband answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      For software engineering specifically, environmental impacts can be managed through the use of our software. For example, using Artificial Intelligence to monitor the numbers of passengers in a railway station at a given time and reducing the lighting in certain areas to reduce the power usage and also save money if the number of passengers is below a certain number. This is primarily controlled through software.

    • Photo: Emma Bould

      Emma Bould answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Hi Isabelle

      Where I work, the engineers are responsible for helping to meet sustainability goals like reducing CO2 emissions as well as reducing electricity and water usage. They think up new ways to keep improving so that we keep reducing the impact on the environment. The medicines we make would be poisonous if they were spilled or not disposed of properly so we are very careful to make sure that we don’t have an adverse impact on the environment, especially because we are in such a beautiful location surrounded by wildlife in Hertfordshire.

      One of our newest buildings on site is Carbon Neutral to run and won an award recognising it’s sustainability features called BREEAM. I has Solar Panels, and uses an underground network to pre-heat the air used in the heating and ventilation systems. Engineers I work with took part of the design, build and now maintenance of that building.

    • Photo: Kate Coleman

      Kate Coleman answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Everything I do at work (and at home) involves thinking about the impact on the environment. At home I try to reduce the amount of plastic we buy and use and always recycle as much as I can. At work, in the office we try to do the same, and with any engineering projects we always have to consider if there are any environmental impacts.

    • Photo: Simon Porter

      Simon Porter answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      That all depends on what “environmental stuff” you’re talking about 🙂
      In reality, every responsible engineer on the planet should consider the impact of their activities on the environment.
      However, it is such a complex (and massive – like, the size of the planet!!) issue that there is only so much any single person/company/country can do on their own.
      That shouldn’t stop everyone doing their bit and trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible, and engineers tend to have a mindset that can help at every step of the process.
      Personally I’m not directly involved in working on any environmental project, but I can still aim to minimise the impact of how I go about my work – only driving if necessary, minimising energy wastage whenever possible. So I’m doing my bit – however small it is in the grand scheme of things!

    • Photo: Sean Creed

      Sean Creed answered on 28 Apr 2020: last edited 28 Apr 2020 7:29 am


      We constantly try to improve processes to reduce waste, scrap parts, manufacture in a more efficient way. This not only improves our environmental impact but often means that processes run quicker, more efficient and the time spent making these improvements also leads to thinking about other parts of the process that can be improved at the same time.

    • Photo: Jean-Luc Bulber

      Jean-Luc Bulber answered on 28 Apr 2020:


      Short answer: yes. When we develop a new engine component or a complete system, we have to consider what components we are going to use, how we are going to manufacture them, and if they can be recycled afterwards and how.

      Some of these tasks are defined by laws or regulation. Like the marking on the products (which is necessary for the recycling), the noise and waste generated by the manufacturing process… Others can be decided because of the ethics of the company.

      These are not necessarily the same requirements in every country, but we have at least a moral duty to take the environment into consideration in every aspect of the job.

    • Photo: Frances Askill-Kirk

      Frances Askill-Kirk answered on 28 Apr 2020:


      In some aspects yes. I work for a OEM that specialises in electric performance vehicles. I am an interiors product engineer, and most of my components either use vegan leather or a more sustainable alternative to regularly used materials. When discussing potential work with suppliers, as a company we must ask what they are doing to make their materials more sustainable and how their operations are also following suit.

      It is very interesting to see the shift in the automotive industry! A lot of focus is moving into how every aspect of the car can be improved to be more sustainable. I believe that every industry will soon be doing ‘environment stuff!!” which i think is very positive and innovative !

    • Photo: Claire Brockett

      Claire Brockett answered on 28 Apr 2020:


      Not really – I’m a medical engineer. But I think as engineers we all have the environment within our minds when we are thinking of solutions. For example, the life-cycle of a product – how it’s made, packaged, used and disposed of is something where we can try (where feasible) to improve the environmental impact.

    • Photo: Josh Turner

      Josh Turner answered on 28 Apr 2020:


      I am looking at helping the environment by working with systems to heat up and cool down buildings without burning any fossil fuels. These are called heat pumps, and they work by taking heat from the outdoor air and ground and using it to heat up your house. When they are in cooling mode, they take the heat from your house and put it outside, back in the air or ground (the same way a fridge takes heat out from the fridge and puts it in your kitchen). Heat pumps only need electricity to run which can come from renewable sources like solar panels, and wind farms. Heat pumps can also be very efficient which means they don’t need a lot of electricity to provide a lot of heat, so they can be a good way to reduce the emissions that go into the air.

    • Photo: Charlene Chung

      Charlene Chung answered on 28 Apr 2020:


      I work in the water and environment division in my company and all of the design and analysis of sewer and drainage systems focusses being sustainable now, for the future and how to best protect the environment so that there is no danger to polluting watercourses or anywhere, leading risks of life.

    • Photo: Jeni Spragg

      Jeni Spragg answered on 29 Apr 2020:


      Yes, I’m a chemical engineer working in renewable energy, so I am trying to use engineering to reduce climate change.
      At the moment, I’m focused on a technology called ‘carbon capture and storage’, which captures carbon dioxide emissions from factories and power stations, and safely locks it away underground. Carbon capture and storage will be really important if the world is going to meet all the big climate change promises that our leaders have agreed to. However, it’s a complicated and expensive technology, so businesses, engineers and politicians are trying to work closely together to find a solution.

    • Photo: Sean Hoynes

      Sean Hoynes answered on 29 Apr 2020:


      Working within a busy workshop, environmental protection and safety is built into the way we repair and maintain the armoured vehicles. For example, if my team is servicing or repairing a Challenger 2 tank they will always ensure that the waste oil is disposed of in the correct way so it doesn’t damage the environment. All materials for spare parts are recycled such as scrap metal. When the vehicles are running inside the workshop, filters are used on the exhaust to reduce the amount of emissions into the atmosphere. We have regular inspections to ensure that we adhere to rules and regulations and are not damaging the environment.

    • Photo: Owen Jeffreys

      Owen Jeffreys answered on 2 May 2020:


      Hi Isabelle!

      Thank you for asking such an important question. My answer is yes, and every engineer on this forum should really answer yes to this question. However, I do not work for an environment agency, I do not do research into the environment and I do nothing with nature. I am a software engineer and I sit at my computer most of the day. So you are probably wondering why I said yes? Well the answer is that every thing we do has an impact on the environment, and it is important for people to remember this. So no, I don’t go into the forest and chop down trees, but I use a computer for 10 hours a day at work. This computer must be powered by electricity and that electricity must be generated in a power station somewhere which might well be using a natural resource and be polluting the atmosphere. So I have to think carefully about whether I need to have the computer on for the entire day. Sometimes I am in meetings for half the day, in which case I can shut my computer down during that time.

      So no, I am not directly involved with the environment, but my actions will have an effect on the environment. Maybe on Monday I will go to the office and read an email. It might be a very long email so I might decide to print it out on paper to read it. However, some tree somewhere has had to be chopped down in order for me to print it. So now I will think to myself, do I really need to print that email?

      You see, everything we do has an impact on the environment. Have a think about the things you will be doing down through the week and see if you can work out what that activity might do to the environment. It is quite a fun exercise and I think you will be surprised by what you can come up with.

    • Photo: Martin McKie

      Martin McKie answered on 5 May 2020:


      Every engineer should be looking at how they can minimise their impact on the environment. How can the products they design be re-cycled at the end of their life for example.

      One example from my own experience:

      I worked in a Sand Casting company. This is where they produce mould made of sand and pour in liquid metal to make metal components for example: pumps, conrods, pistons, kettle bells, etc.

      At the end of the process the sand was taken to landfill but I found a company that would take the sand away and recycle it to make asphalt which is what the roads are made of and we drive on everyday.

    • Photo: Ross Hall

      Ross Hall answered on 12 May 2020:


      I work in the oil and gas industry.Typically not a very environmentally friendly industry ,but in my role I help design filter systems to reduce the amount of contaminants sucked into the gas turbine.The less contaminants in the turbine the more efficiently it turns the fuel into power and the less emissions produced.

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