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My Major’s Impact on Climate Change: Engineering for the Better

Greetings everyone! My name is Kester Todd. I am currently a student at the NYC College of Technology. I am pursuing my bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. Electrical engineering is a discipline that revolves around studying, designing, and applying technology that uses electricity. As many should know, electricity runs the world. Electrical systems allow humans to live in a more convenient manner. For example, one of the greatest technological inventions ever has to be the creation of the internet. The creation and the ability to access the internet is a result of electrical systems. Around 62% of humans in the world use the internet. That means that over half of our population relies on the internet. Thus, they also rely on the creations brought by electrical engineering. There are many other applications that utilize electrical engineering such as computers, cars, ships, buildings, houses and much more. Although electrical engineering is a useful discipline, individuals’ over-reliance on electrical engineering can be very negative. Electrical systems such as generators are the backbone to many electrical engineering applications. Generators help create the electricity that powers other systems. However, many of these generators use fossil fuels to generate electricity. It is essential for engineers to find alternative solutions to powering generators. If not, our world as we know it may be doomed.

Electricity generators are basically a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy or electricity. Mechanical energy is related to physics as it is potential energy and kinetic energy. It is the energy of an object that’s in motion or an object that is being stored and ready to release energy. Since generators require mechanical energy, a physical force must be acted upon the generator to create energy. A typical electricity generator, an electromagnetic shaft (a rotor)  is physically turned around coils of wire (a stator). Boiling water to create the stream to power the generator can create a physical force that can turn the rotor consistently. However, other methods can be used as well. This is detailed by the U.S Energy information Administration. According to their article, “Electricity explains: How electricity is generated”, some electricity generators are powered by either wind power, solar power, or the flow of water in a river using a hydroelectric turbine. Nevertheless, almost the majority of generators are being powered by either natural gas or coal. This is an issue because these fuel emissions like CO2 are being released into the atmosphere. CO2 emissions do not stay in the atmosphere for long. However, they stay long enough that they can heat up the atmosphere and cause more of the world’s water to evaporate. Water vapor stays in the atmosphere for long periods. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, it also holds heat for long periods. In fact, water vapor holds more heat than CO2. For that reason, the beginning of the global warming process, which is the emission of C02, is the main cause of global warming. With the overuse of electrical technologies, generators are being used at an all time high. This means that generators powered by fossil fuels are causing a major negative impact on climate change.

As a future electrical engineer, my major has a great impact on climate change. Application of the discipline of electrical engineering on a worldwide scale is ultimately going to help determine the future of climate change. As an engineer, I would first strive for places to use natural forms of mechanical energy to power generators. Wind, hydropower and geothermal energy in certain locations are all examples of clean mechanical energy. However, this of course, will be difficult, especially in areas where these natural forms of energy are not abundant. Another option is the use of solar power. Solar energy does not operate using generators. Rather, they collect and store the energy directly into batteries. However, solar panels only collect the sun’s rays on sunny days. Thus, for some regions, this may not be applicable.

It will be very difficult for one to completely eliminate fossil fuels from power generation. Two of the main reasons why are the infrastructure and abundance of fuels. The infrastructure of obtaining fossil fuels is so well constructed that orientations away from that may be an issue. Furthermore, the abundance of fossil fuels on earth is also a motivator to continue using this source of energy. The main source of fossil fuel pollution are in major cities where natural forms of mechanical energy won’t suffice to support its roaring population. As an electrical engineer, maybe I can work to create wind turbines on offshore lands and be able to transport that power efficiently back to major cities for use. Of course, transporting this power is a costly manner itself. According to Technology.org, underwater power lines can cost , “…400 dollars per foot.” Until the infrastructure of power can be completely transported into renewable sources, this problem will continue to persist.

References
  • Solar Panels and Wind Turbines Image:

https://iea.imgix.net/9b69c4b4-e46f-43a6-9035-a8cf1143f56d/GettyImages-1169892501.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&fit=min&q=80&rect=0%2C0%2C3936%2C2624&w=1280&h=853&fit=crop&fm=jpg&q=70&auto=format

  • There is a reason why underwater power cables are so expensive

https://www.technology.org/2021/11/08/there-is-a-reason-why-underwater-power-cables-are-so-expensive/

  • Electricity explains: How electricity is generated

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/how-electricity-is-generated.php

image:

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