@Richardo: I agree that improved design tools aren't enough to ensure a more sustainable mentality when it comes to design, but they can certainly help and ensure the engineer has the data and tools they need to make key decisions along the way. But you're right in pointing out that the real challenge lies within the organizational culture and the vision from top management. Without that, any kind of sustainbility effort is doomed.
> Somehow we need to bridge the thinking and address the disposable society mentality
I doubt if this can be done via improved engineering tools. The push must come from the customer, the evil marketing dept. To change these evildoers might require serious legislation. eg Mandated Warranty and Cost Effective (to the customer) Service support for all electronic, white goods and automatic product for at least 10 yrs.
This might reduce the number of 'designed by monkeys' products which are really 'specified to ridiculous timescales by monkeys' products.
Somehow we need to bridge the thinking and address the disposable society mentality with a sustainable bend to our design tactics. I do think more and more of that is starting to filter into engineers' mind sets.
I think sustainable design starts with thinking things through. We learn that, in theory, in design school but it's rarely put into practice. Our disposable economy has been around for almost a century. It's no wonder that sustainable design has had a difficult time being accepted in the mainstream until now.
It's good to see more tools to help designer/engineers today get back to the basics of thinking things through and creating sustainable design.
This has always been my dream. Capture the energy from a river or a stream for household independence. I certainly will pay attention to Hydrovolts to see how they progress. I would even like to see if they could use another engineer on this project. But I don't think it is so important where it is made. If you do it right, and have the inspiration to think it globally, it might be designed to be made in any country with a minimum of skill.
The other interest of mine is power from the waves. Surely there is money to be made from harnessing it properly. And again, there are a lot of poor countries with coast lines. What a boon to those economies either of these technologies could be. Plus the infrastructure that would have to be built and maintained. It is mind boggling!
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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