5 Examples of Sustainable Engineering for the Future

As part of World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development (WED), we have highlighted some inspiring examples of sustainable engineering that are paving the way towards a more sustainable future.

Sustainability has become increasingly important, with the demand for environmentally friendly solutions at an all-time high. As a result, businesses and innovators from across the world are coming together to develop sustainable engineering solutions that do not compromise our natural environment.

Below are five ground-breaking examples of sustainable engineering from around the world:


Smog vacuum cleaner creates jewellery

Dutch designer, Daan Roosegaarde, built and developed the world’s first smog free tower in Rotterdam in 2015 after being shocked at the levels of air pollution in big cities. The award-winning tower acts as a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking in polluted air, cleaning it through a process of ionisation, before releasing it back into the atmosphere. At peak performance, the tower can clean around 30,000 m3 of air every hour!

More recently, Roosegaarde developed a technique that takes carbon filled smog particles produced by the tower and compresses them to create jewellery such as rings and cufflinks. Each piece of jewellery contains smog dust from 1,000 m3 of polluted air.

After the success of the first tower, subsequent towers have been built all over the world in places such as South Korea, China, Mexico, the Netherlands and Poland, making this a true success story for sustainable engineering.


Safer cooking stoves for the developing world

Dr. Cristian Birzer, Director of the Humanitarian and Development Solutions Initiative (HDSI) based in Australia, began the Cookstove Project after discovering that three billion people worldwide cook their food on dangerous stoves fuelled by dung or timber. Whilst these fuels are a relatively renewable source of energy, they have inefficient combustion rates meaning they create a large amount of smoke when burnt. This smoke not only impacts the environment, but also causes over four million deaths each year due to smoke inhalation.

Dr. Birzer wanted to offer a safer, more efficient system with significantly fewer emissions. To achieve this, he developed a prototype stove made from two paint cans to house the solid fuel source, and a tin can to act as a chimney. Using readily available scrap metal to create the stoves enabled charitable organisations to roll out the design in developing countries across the world, helping people to cook their food in a safer and more environmentally friendly way.


Plastic alternative made from carbon waste

AirCarbon was developed by NewLight Technologies as a sustainable alternative to plastic made from carbon emissions. The material is verified carbon-neutral, meaning every step of its production and use is environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The material is created from a naturally occurring polymer, Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is produced by microorganisms in the ocean. This means that, unlike synthetic plastics, AirCarbon can be broken down and consumed by microorganisms, making it fully biodegradable both on land and in water.

Aircarbon is used by companies across the world, such as Dell and Shake Shack, to replace synthetic plastic in the creation of single-use packaging containers and utensils. With plastic packaging accounting for around 45% of landfill waste, replacing synthetic plastic containers with AirCarbon is a game changing invention for the future of our planet.


Floating bin removes 90,000 plastic bags from ocean each year

The award-winning Seabin was created by two surfers, Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton, who wanted to find a way to clean up the world’s oceans. Once installed, the bin works by sucking sea water through a submersible pump where plastic, oil and detergents are filtered out, allowing clean water to flow back into the ocean.

Each year, one bin has the capability to catch: 90,000 plastic bags, 35,700 disposable cups, 16,500 plastic bottles and 166,500 plastic utensils. So far, 860 Seabins have been installed throughout the world, with over two and a half million kilograms of pollutants captured to date.


Scrap metal significantly reduced through electrodialysis

British Engines Group company, CMP Products, is paving the way for sustainable engineering within the manufacturing industry.

As part of this commitment, CMP recently installed EDEN® electrodialysis technology at its nickel processing plant to extend the life of its nickel plating baths. Electroless nickel (EN) plating is a process that uses a chemical reaction to create a nickel deposit on a component. During the plating process, by-products of the chemical reaction build up and decrease the performance of the metal baths where the plating takes place. This eventually causes the baths to become ‘spent’ meaning they must be scrapped.

The EDEN® electrodialysis unit selectively removes contaminants to regenerate the metal baths, allowing them to be used again. This has resulted in a substantial decrease in the number of EN baths being scrapped, significantly reducing the environmental impact of CMP’s nickel plating process.

CMP Products completed a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Carbon Emissions report, which tracks the company’s emissions across its facilities. Plans are in place for CMP to drive GHG Carbon Emissions reporting across the entire British Engines Group in 2022, leading to the development of a group-wide GHG Carbon Emissions report, allowing the group and it’s individual businesses to establish goals and targets to reduce emissions.

Find out more about the British Engines Group’s commitment to sustainability.