THE INSTITUTE Earth is in a nerve-wracking phase. Global warming is a major topic and humans are starting to see the effects, like extreme weather events. In 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Caribbean communities and left millions of people without power and shelter for months. Humans are searching for ways to fix the damage being done to our environment, and engineers are making major strides towards this goal. Below are three ways engineers are improving the planet.
Clean water is not accessible to everyone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 785 million people did not have access to a basic clean drinking water service in 2017. Engineers are creating technology that will bring clean water to those who need.
The Warka Tower, for instance, is a 10-meter tower designed to collect and harvest potable water from the air, generate electrical energy from sunlight and even sustain a modular edible garden through an integrated irrigation system. The tower, built with biodegradable and recyclable materials, works through gravity, condensation and evaporation without the need for external power. Eventually, similar towers could provide clean water to any town that needs it.
Engineers are also working on implementing smart technology to track the health of water pumps. When a pump isn't working, an alert is sent via smartphone app so that engineers can fix it quickly. In the absence an alert system, water pumps can go months without being serviced.
No matter what form it comes in, solar, wind or water, the world needs to move toward clean energy harvesting. Engineers are bringing clean energy to the forefront with inventions like solar panels, wind turbines and hydropumps. Engineers have also created grid-tie systems to go hand in hand with clean energy generation. Grid-tie systems allow consumers who harvest their own clean energy to sell the extra energy they produce to utility companies. This energy can then be used by consumers who don't generate their own energy, creating a collaborative strategy that benefits a whole community.
As the world's population grows, producing sufficient food is becoming increasingly difficult. Engineers are working to find solutions to avert worldwide food shortages.
One strategy is to implement sustainable farming, which comes in many forms. Hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic farming were all developed by engineers to make it easier to grow food. All three types allow food to be grown in an indoor environment, increasing the amount produced.
Engineers are also creating smart farms that use technology to streamline and improve farming. Automation is one step towards smart farming; it opens the potential to speed up the farming process and eliminate human error. From tillers to sorting machines to tractors, almost every farming machine can be automated. Smart farms can also employ drones to plant seeds, spray crops and keep real-time analysis of fields.
In sum, engineers are trying to help humanity, from sustainable farming to clean energy to clean water. They are working on making the Earth a better place for everyone, now and into the future.
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