What is Sustainable Technology?
Why is this important question?
SD is a holistic concept:
meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
Engineers work at the level of parts of the system
engineers design at ‘artefact’ level where many consequences of
SD meet: energy, safety, waste, pollution, equity, etc.
Sustainable technologies use less energy, fewer
limited resources, do not deplete natural resources,
do not directly or indirectly pollute the environment,
and can be reused or recycled at the end of their
"The car’s body is composed 90% by plate
panels which are cut according to the
desired finish and the rests are recycled,
and completed with thermo
It is easy to produce and adapt, according to
the user's needs. The engine works with
compressed natural gas (CNG), with the option
of evolving into electricity in the future. The car
is also very small (2.10
wide and 1.78
tall/6'8" long, 4'7"
wide and 5'8" tall), which can probably help
some of the problems related to urban transit in
the future. It is estimated that each unit would
cost around 4,500 dollars.
Air source heat pumps
Alkaline fuel cell
Battery electric vehicle
Biological hydrogen production
Calgary downtown district energy
Combined heat and power plant
Micro combined heat and power
Horse & Carriage, 1900s
500 m from
Perishable food problem: loss of fish and vegetables, risk of food
Toxic/flammable refrigerants: Ammonia, SO
Search for safe refrigerants: non toxic, non flammable and
1928 Synthesis by Thomas Midgley
Somewhat more expensive
May 15th, 1929: 128 people died of methyl
1930 CFC Refrigerant
CFCs: Solution for
dangerous spray cans
1970 Lovelock traces CFC’s in wind at Western Ireland
F. Sherwood Rowland (UC
Irvine), Mario Molina
5 Joe Farman
1987 Protocol Montreal
CFCs as global threat
1930: miracle solution: “really sustainable”
1974: New issue: atmospheric effects, serious doubts
1987: “ozone killer”
‘Sustainability of a technology
depending on place
and on time….
Now, cars ………………..
Annual World Oil Consumption 2005
Annual Oil Discovery Rates in 1990s
Cumulative World Oil Consumption 1860
Conventional Remaining World Oil Reserves (P50)
Remaining World Oil Reserves
Conventional Remaining World Oil Reserves (mean)
Were cars around 1900 Sustainable?
In 1818, New York City Council: regulation. Manure
collection & processing: special "manure
yards" to process:
"rotting“, overturning and exposure to weathering.
Abt. 1200 tons of manure daily on the streets: dust, typhoid
dead animals (In 1880, New York City removed 15,000
dead horses from its streets)
1908: 20.000 death?
CFC 1930, 1960:
Horse & carriage, New York, 1900:
2311 * 10^9 barrels of oil still present.
Cumulatieve consumption 960 Gbo.
Total 3271 Gbo
Formed in about 350 * 10^6 year (highest speed Paleozoicum)
Simplified: 9345 barrels annually
51.4 % gasoline
0.514 * 159 litre/barrel
= 81.7 liter gasoline
Geological annual production of gasoline: 9345 * 81.7 = 763500 litres gasoline
2000 litres per car annually?
380 cars can drive sustainably
lets say between 100 and 1000
And that windturbines?
For many years complaints of villagers:
noise at night
Neglected by authorities and NGO’s: NIMBY
Villagers were right: University research found a new phenomenon:
At night, the windturbines produced far more noise. Cause
wind shear under absence of sun
Size of windturbines (distance between top and lowest position
Various articulations of sustainability
Related to paradigms
Technology should meet all possible SD articulations?
Sustainable for ever? No
Sustainable technology is only a useful concept if it involves
hardware and software: use of technologies that is, as far as we
know, in harmony with its natural and social environment
ENGINEERING DESIGN CAN ONLY DEAL
WITH SPECIFIC ARTICULATIONS OF SD
SPECIFY TARGETS TO BE OPTIMIZED
EXCLUDES OTHER TARGETS
Involve stakeholders in technological decisions: the
engineer cannot decide on their behalf
Sustainability is never established forever: A
sustainable technology now might be unsustainable in
Include Jevons Paradox
What more than saving the marine sea life?