I am encouraged that the Steel Market Development Institute is engaged in educating the EPA. I can only extend my naive hope that the EPA hires as many scientists and engineers as they do politicians and regulators. I am all for innovation, but when a new "green" technology is deployed too often the energy balance does not include the fact that its use relies on exotic heavy metals and energy produced from the electricity grid. We are already fighting perpetual wars on drugs, poverty and ineffective education in the US. We can't afford a new war on CO2.
I agree William. It's the same argument IPC had with the EU over RoHS. IPC said, we will be happy to comply with your regulations if they're based on science. While IPC didn't win the battle on that point (there is still argument over whether lead leaches from solder in the landfill), the EU did yield to IPC's call for science-based justification on upcoming materials in line for restriction.
Rob, has anyone taken a look at what RoHS as far as solder goes means to the carbon footprint of E manufacturing? Solder temps are some 20% higher and also rework and repair is almost impossible resulting in more land fill.
As someone who has spent his entire adult life earning a living in the steel stamping industry, I am thrilled to see designers rediscovering the versatility of steel. However, I must admit some of the more exotic alloys have required a complete re-education concerning things I have done for years. This is not your father's steel we are using today. Innovation is cool.
To me the exciting part is to see how steel and different alloys can be combined with plastics and other materials to really optimize the final product. i often think of cars and how it basically has 4 wheels and goes. And yet their is innovation in so many areas to make it go farther, run cheaper, and cost less. It's neat to see how steel can be used where it is needed but other materials can be used in other areas to allow their properities to help the overall function of the machine.
William, the EPA actually does employ a fair number of scientists and, yes, even engineers. As a matter of fact, the EPA developed a number of life cycle analysis tools which can be used to perform exactly the kind of analysis described in this article.
@Dave Palmer Yes. The EPA employs fantasticlly talented scientists and engineers. It is a matter of purpose. The purpose of Science is to discover the truth. The purpose of Engineering is to integrate these discoveries into useful tools. The useful tools are then used by Scientists to discover additional truth. It is a symbiotic relationship.
The purpose of the Environmental Protection Agency is, as stated in its name, to Protect the Environment. Since its formation in 1970 its charge has been the protection of human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.[EPA Website]
The EPA Mission Statement does not contain any language that states the EPA will work "with" Scientists and Engineers. The EPA will Protect, Reduce Risk, Enforce Laws, Manage Risk, Increase Diversity, and Protect the Global Environment. It is an adversarial relationship that is formed around Enforcement and Compliance.
As a Government entity, the EPA is concerned with the distribution of Political Power. In the United States, Political Power is derived by the consent of the governed. Scientist and Engineers have an obligation as citizens to dissent when government agencies overstep their bounds.
There is no reason why the relationship between the EPA and industry needs to be adversarial - and as a matter of fact, it often isn't. A good example is the collaboration between the EPA and the American Foundry Society on foundry sand recycling. This collaboration has been going on for many years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and has helped foundries save money while protecting the environment and creating new economic opportunities. This is just one example of collaboration between EPA scientists and engineers and scientists and engineers in private industry.
The cartoonish representation of technically illiterate government bureaucrats cackling evilly as they squeltch private enterprise and innovation might contain a grain of truth sometimes, but for the most part, it's an ideological fantasy promoted by extremists. It's no more accurate than the cartoonish representation of corporate executives cackling evilly as they willfully destroy the environment, which is the fantasy which extremists on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum would have us believe. In reality, all of us have an interest in both environmental protection and economic prosperity. Scientists and engineers in government and industry can work together to guarantee both.
@Dave Bravo! Your concluding paragraph about stereotypes should be mandatory reading for everybody. My personal difficulty is not with the EPA, per se, but with the "writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress."
Too often the Representatives in Congress are responding to demands from their constituents that are based on the cartoonish representations -- or at least those representations that emerge from short talking points and themes in the popular culture.
Your "...all of us have an interest in both environmental protection and economic prosperity. Scientists and engineers in government and industry can work together to guarantee both." is beautifully said. My hope is that scientists and engineers in both government and industry can continue to provide the honest feedback to Congress that is required of all amplification systems. =]
It is good to see the steel industry moving forward trying to keep up in the lightweight material race. As an end user, it is a lot cheaper to pull a dent in a steel panel than it is to replace an entire composite car panel.
I also like the concept of looking at the whole picture when looking at the carbon foot print. It bus me when people only focus on the operating foot print of the electircal cars. Much of the same can be said of the other green fuels. Take ethynal for example. There is more to ethynal than just turning corn into gas. There is the ability to use the waste product, (stocks etc) for gas as well. There is still significant potential to increase crop output. When you compare these types of green technology with wind energy some logical conclusions have to be drawn. Let's face it, the wind will never start blowing twice as hard as it does now. But we can work towards doubling the output of our farm generated fuel sources. Okay so I kind of chased a squirrel on this post.
And methanol came into the discussion. Methanol is a step backwards for a number of reasons. The one that really worries me is, what do we do when the arable soil runs out? Proponents of Ethanol always neglect to mention that raising crops takes mass out of the soil that cannot be replaced. Walk through a corn field. Those stalks, roots, and ears don't grow out of thin air, rain and sunshine. There's also the fact that trace elements/chemicals that the human metabolism requires eventually go away forever. You might be tempted to think, Hey what about fertilizer? There's another double-edged sword. Do you know what we're doing to the Gulf of Mexico with the runoff of fertilizer flowing down the Mississippi River? There's this huge oxygen depleted zone that's growing at an increasing rate (thanks to ... you guessed it). Nothing can live in that zone. Ethanol requires additional energy, all through the refining, storage, and delivery cycle, to keep water out of it. That's not helpful in the combustion cycle and is actually very corrosive to engine parts. Ethanol contains about 82% of the energy of gasoline so your engine runs less efficiently with it. I Think that's enough environmental bad news to make a solid case against it. If some of the big farm, and farming related companies hadn't sold congress on the joys of free energy (free, except for the huge governmental subsidies), we would have tossed this bad news idea years ago. I apologize for the rant but this business has been stuck in my craw for a long time.
Also currently, fertilizer is made from natural gas. Does not have to be though.
Somebody should run down the entire list of pro and cons then put numbers next to them. Every discussion especially in the news are always partial facts. Discussions are never complete so you can never draw an educated conclusion. All the facts should be well laid out organized so one quick look can see them all neatly arranged. That way, there are no argument. None of this somebody did not mention yet another pro or yet another con that is partially true. Then discussion starts all over again. Now many people are misled by partial facts. Would think somebody would have done this by now in this great nation.
Note:Not only does the government subsidize the production of ethenal they actually pay people not to grow corn. Yep, that's right. We have so much lland right now that thegovernment actually pays people to leave it dormant in some cases for years.
So one one hand the government pays people to not grow corn and that raises the price of corn. We then pay to artificially raise the price of corn through subsidies and then we subsidize ethanol.
Now from the engineering standpoint I think it is worth noting the dead zone at the end of the Mississippi River. These tend to come from artificial fertilizers. One area of potential is for the developement of in the area of fertilizer development.
Also there are so many other opportunities to improve the use of natural fertilizers, (pig poop) and it's application to the land to replinish the soil without having to apply artificial fertilizers.
These are just a few of the opportunities for engineers to help advance the development and production of renewable resources.
Rob’s article explains the three categories of vehicle emissions as (1) during manufacture, (2) during use, and (3) at end-of-life.From God’s grand perspective of the universe, this is absolute and true. However from the puny perspective of an average consumer, only the middle one rates. Consumers today are being fed propaganda from multi media sources that the middle one, emissions during use, are what the Green-initiatives are all about. Often, overly self-righteous and often myopic in true vision. Articles like this one should be heralded from the rooftops, to inform the public of the whole truth.For this reason, we all as Design Engineers, have to carry the burden of developing all three categories toward improved levels. Because consumers don’t understand and they only care about the “middle one”.
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