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Engineering a Cleaner Future by City Tech Blogger Diego Curatolo

As an engineering student it is crucial to keep innovation and the general public’s wellbeing in mind.  To improve the quality of life in the 21st century many challenges are presented.  During the industrial revolution many advancements were made, unfortunately possible climate change effects were not taken into account and were not known. The negative effects these advancements would have on our climate was not an immediate problem back then, like it is now.  The industrial revolution can be credited with kicking off the large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions we have seen.



A good way to help counteract the large releases of CO2 is not necessarily attempting to completely stop the emissions, but rather capture it.  Large Carbon Capture Stations (CCS) have been set up around the world to help capture some of the CO2 emissions.  These CCS can help mitigate the effects of climate change due to CO2 emissions.
If we focus our engineering efforts on developing portable CCS we can create a large dent in the CO2 being released.  A system that uses the same concepts as its large systems counterparts can be used on individual’s roofs.  Implementing a program to help homeowners install these systems can help everyone.  The system can be created by engineering students for their capstone assignment.  The assignment will allow students to put their studies to good use.  Very often capstone assignments are given a budget, much like any engineering project, this budget is usually very low and pushes students to make the most with what they have.  An article published by Forbes magazine in 2017 by Jeffery Rissman and Robbie Orvis titled “Carbon Capture and Storage: An Expensive Option for Reducing U.S. CO2 Emissions” really bring the high cost of CCS to light.  According to the article “coal plants equipped with CCS are nearly three time more expensive than onshore wind power”, these claims are explained later on by saying “costs come from building pipelines to transport the CO2, injecting it underground, and monitoring the injection site.”  Below is a figure taken from the article mentioned above, the figure outlines the costs of coal plants with CCS.  The figure outlines operating and maintenance costs (O&M) as well as the capacity of the facility.



These high cost setbacks can be researched and studied by students and can ultimately be solved or can contribute to reduction in cost by research.  The typically low budget project will push student to find low cost and possibly more reliable solutions. Fortunately for us, many think the benefits of reducing CO2 are priceless.  With the reduction of CO2 everyone will benefit, even future generations.  Ultimately the answer may lie within the students of today.  To develop a small stationary or even portable CCS is the best solution for reducing the effects of climate change.




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