Author: Giles Kirkland

Key Environmental Issues in Automotive Sector

No Comments

The environmental forecasts have recently been so gloomy that it might be tempting for some people to stop caring about the planet. Many assume that their contribution wouldn’t be enough to make a real change for the global environment and therefore they give up. The truth is, however, that the tiniest steps, if taken by all, or even the majority, could reverse climate change. What really matters is the awareness. That’s the reason why highlighting successful initiatives is important, as building positive associations with our actions will improve motivation in people across the globe.

Hopefully, with the changes we see today, most people will be aware of ecological and sustainable alternatives to most products and practices in the near future. Here are four infographics that show key environmental problems in the automotive sector, especially transport, energy production, recycling, and palm oil use, alongwith interesting facts and figures, promising news and predictions and actionable tips for everyone:

Sustainable Motorways: Driving Our Future

1 Comment

Smart motorways are enhanced stretches of motorways which include dynamic hard shoulders, fluctuating speed limits, monitoring sensors, and cameras. Britain, for example is one of the leading innovators when it comes to road management, with their system known as active traffic management. Even though the UK and a few other countries are implementing advancements to their roads, there is still room for  improvement with technologies such as drones, smart LED road studs, eco-friendly lighting and built-in sensors.

But in today’s world is smart is enough. We need our motorways to be sustainable and support our ever more sustainable cars, to help restore our planet.

Sustainable Motorways

Solar roadways seem to be a match made in heaven for electric vehicles. Substituting standard tarmac roads with extra durable solar panels is the main idea behind this technology. The panels, that would act like screens, displaying road signs, warning about lane closures, would also harvest solar energy. This captured energy would then be used to power both road signs and in-car items.

Another way to make roads sustainable is to build more “electric”roads. These  motorways, for example, would be equipped with an inductive charging system, such as in a phone charger. Thanks to the wireless charging technology that would be installed below the surface, they would create an electromagnetic field, which would be then transferred to receivers, directly powering running vehicles.

Some charging panels placed at bus depots in Milton Keynes are an example of this technology as they power electric buses overnight. Similar projects are considered for parking lots – if used on a larger scale, this would significantly reduce carbon emissions in our environment.

Making motorway maintenance more sustainable is key to lowering the need for manual labor, financing and being more eco-friendly in general. Researchers at Cambridge, Bath and Cardiff Universities may have found a solution in the form of  ‘self-healing concrete’. It is a concrete blend with added bacteria which produces limestone. When moisture enters a slit in the concrete it seals the crack before it gets the chance to widen.

Unfortunately, most of these ideas are being criticised and only a few are being currently implemented. Hopefully more and more of these, and other technologies them will actually happen in the future. As for now, we can only try to reduce our carbon footprint by changing our means of transport to a more sustainable one, be it an EV, public transport or a bike.

Image source: https://www.oponeo.co.uk/tyre-article/motorways-in-europe-and-the-uk

Turning Household Waste into Clean Fuel

16 Comments

As more and more governments and businesses are racing to find efficient and reliable solutions for providing energy, the one option that is both widely achievable on a house-by-house basis, as well as tackling two major environmental issues is turning household waste into fuel.

We know there are already many organisations that are doing this on a large scale, collecting household waste from large areas and turning it into energy in Waste to Energy plants. However, arguably a better way to benefit from this is to produce energy on a household basis. In this article we explore some of the reasons why this is a good idea and how we can practically turn our own waste at home into energy.

Reduce Waste Transportation & Limit Landfill Use

Let’s take for example the UK, where they throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink waste as a population every year. Every bit of this waste is collected by local council services and transported some distance, eventually disposed of at landfill sites across the country.

The impact on the environment is twofold in this case. Firstly, the heavy duty vehicles required to collect the household waste are less than environmentally friendly. On the surface this may seem like a minor point, however when you consider how heavy these vehicles are, how slowly they move and how long they spend idling, they contribute a large amount to traffic pollution.

In fact, recent figures show that the average efficiency of these vehicles is around 4.4 mpg. Transportation of waste obviously remains an issue even where commercial Waste to Energy plants are concerned, but can be remedied by turning waste to fuel at home.

The second and arguably more obvious impact of the traditional waste disposal process is that it requires a vast amount of land. Quite simply, by using home waste to generate energy we are able to limit the amount of rubbish currently going to landfill sites.

Anaerobic Digestion

Up until now it has been technically difficult to create usable gas from household waste such as food leftovers. However, recent developments have made it easier than ever to produce energy from these wasted items. This has been made possible by a start-up that has created a user-friendly unit that can be used to collect left over food waste and turn it into biogas using the anaerobic digestion process. This biogas can then be used directly in the connected house for cooking, heating and even lighting.

For those with the ambition and technical experience, it is possible to produce biofuels and build your own biogas generator at home. Practically this is much easier in a tropical climate where the environment makes perfect conditions for the production of biogas from a wide variety of organic wastes. However, with the right equipment and insulation it is possible to do this in other climates.

Car Fuel from Household Waste

We are going to see a continuing rise in fuel prices across the globe. This fact is seeing a trend for eco car manufacturers to develop alternatives for traditional fuels, ranging from solar power through to electric. One alternative is fuelling your car on used vegetable oil. Practically, most diesel cars can be run off used vegetable oil with some minor alterations. This can be done by a specialist, but equally can be also achieved at home by those mechanically-inclined with specialist kits.

Arguably this may not be the most environmentally friendly option for fuelling cars as burning the oil for energy is comparable to diesel in terms of emissions. However, vegetable oil based fuels are carbon neutral due to absorbed carbon during the plants growing process. Also, when we consider the global issues with waste management, running our cars on vegetable oil is a smart solution.

Using household waste may not be as negative for the environment as media often paints it out to be. By limiting landfill and the harmful emissions generated during the waste disposal process we are able to create environmental benefits. We have also explored some of the practical ways you can use home waste to generate fuel for use in your home and for your car.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
Salman Zafar