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Ecological Engineering

Ecological

study of integrating ecology and engineering, concerned with the design, monitoring, and construction of ecosystems. According to Mitsch (1996) "the design of sustainable ecosystems intends to integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both.

engineering is an emerging

Ecological engineering emerged as a new idea in the early 1960s, but its definition has taken several decades to refine, its implementation is still undergoing adjustment, and its broader recognition as a new paradigm is relatively recent. Ecological engineering was introduced by Howard Odum and others as utilizing natural energy sources as the predominant input to manipulate and control environmental systems. Mitsch and Jorgensen wrote that ecological engineering is designing societal services such that they benefit society and nature, and later noted the design should be systems based, sustainable, and integrate society with its natural environment. Odum emphasized that self-organizational properties were a central feature to ecological engineering.

Mitsch and Jrgensen were the first to define ecological engineering and provide ecological engineering principles. Later they refined the definition and increased the number of principles. They defined and characterized ecological engineering in a 1989 book and clarified it further in their 2004 book . They suggest the goal of ecological engineering is: a) the restoration of ecosystems that have been substantially disturbed by human activities such as environmental pollution or land disturbance, and b) the development of new sustainable ecosystems that have both human and ecological values. They summarized the five concepts key to ecological engineering as:

it is based on the self-designing capacity of ecosystems, it can be a field test of ecological theory, it relies on integrated system approaches, it conserves non-renewable energy, and it supports biological conservation.

Implementation of ecological engineering has focused on the creation or restoration of ecosystems, from degraded wetlands to multicelled tubs and greenhouses that integrate microbial, fish, and plant services to process human wastewater into products such as fertilizers, flowers, and drinking water. Potential applications of ecological engineering in cities have included the field of landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban horticulture, which can be synthesized into urban stormwater management. Potential applications of ecological engineering in rural landscapes have included wetland treatment and community reforestation through traditional ecological knowledge. Recent lifestyle and habitat planning examples include the permaculture movement.

Design Guidelines

Ecological engineering design will follow a cycle similar to engineering design - problem formulation (goal), problem analysis (constraints), alternative solutions search, decision among alternatives, and specification of a complete solution. Elements that distinguish ecological engineering design are elaborated by many authors, however a singular approach is still absent. Typically, the design goal involves protecting an at-risk ecosystem, restoring a degraded ecosystem, or creating a new sustainable ecosystem to satisfy needs of nature and society. A temporal framework is provided by Matlock stating the design solutions are considered in ecological time. In selecting between alternatives, the design should incorporate ecological economics in design evaluation and acknowledge a guiding value system which promotes biological conservation.

Design Guidelines
applying

to all types of ecosystems, adapting engineering design methods, and Design steps should be based on utilizing ecological science and theory, the self-designing capacity of ecosystems; accept the adaptive management theory of learning from mistakes as the design will field test ecological theory; utilize integrated system approaches; and conserve non-renewable energy.

Ecological engineering methods

Ecological Engineering Methods (also known as Biological Engineering or ECO-Engineering) is when researchers try to tap biologically-based energy sources. Some projects include engineering new organisms that produce hydrogen from water and sunlight in environmentally friendly ways with no waste products, and transforming the way man interacts with the environment. One of the more familiar techniques of ECO-Engineering is Bioremediation. Using oileating bacteria created by eco-Engineering, bioremediation is applied to oil spills and chemical spills worldwide.

Energy Inventions to save the Future

Produce Electricity While You Drive

This can be achieved by using piezoelectric materials under busy roads. The property is aptly known as piezoelectricity and its the ability to produce electric power in response to applied mechanical stress, and in this case this stress is the movement of vehicles on the roads. The concept was originally developed by Innowattech and now the company is laying down a sort of test road in Israel. The same technology can be implemented on airport runaways and rail systems. The system also has the capacity to deliver real-time data on the weight, frequency and speed of passing vehicles as well as the spacing between vehicles.

Turning Wastewater into Ethanol

As the world continues to search for alternative fuels to fuel our cars and heat our homes, many different opportunities are being explored and there has finally been a significant breakthrough in turning wastewater into ethanol as an automobile fuel source. Qteros and Applied Clean Tech have teamed up to create a biofuel that will get us that much closer to having another true green energy source. Water treatment systems are expensive to run and have presented communities where they are located with some significant challenges. Most notably, what they can do with the sludge that is left over once the wastewater has been treated. Plant managers may no longer faced with the difficult task of figuring out this problem.

Fiber Optics Could Provide New Options For Photovoltaic

When we think about going solar we make a mental picture of large heavy panels adorning ones rooftop. But researchers are trying to get rid of bulky solar panels. They are aiming to achieve this feat with the help of zinc oxide nanostructures grown on optical fibers and coated with dyesensitized solar cell materials. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have built up a new kind of three-dimensional photovoltaic system. This three-dimensional photovoltaic system will not be heavy and it will not occupy a place of prominence on rooftops; it can be hidden from the view.

Converting Water and CO2 into Fuel

Researchers are trying to duplicate the natural process of photosynthesis. If successful, we can use the evil carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and industrial units to good use. This way, industrial units dont have to establish new subsidiary units for the treatment of carbon dioxide. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a prototype machine that utilizes the suns energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into the molecular building blocks that can be utilized as transportation fuels. If researchers can make this device produce twice the energy generated by the natural process of photosynthesis, it will do great service to environment. It will pave the way to recycle CO2.

Converting Waste Heat to Electricity

With rapid industrialization, the world has seen the development of a number of items or units, which generate heat. Until now this heat has often been treated as a waste, making people wonder if this enormous heat being generated can be transformed into a source of electric power. Now, with the physicists at the University of Arizona finding new ways to harvest energy through heat, this dream is actually going to become a reality.

Water into Hydrogen Fuel with Waste Energy

With each passing day, scientists are coming out with unique solutions to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. They are now thinking of turning stray forms of energy such as noise or random vibrations from the environment into useful form of energy. They want to use piezoelectric effect for such purposes. Some materials produce electricity while undergoing mechanical stress. This is known as piezoelectric effect. Small piezoelectric crystals can come up with enough voltage to create a spark which can be utilized to ignite gas.

Engineers Tap Algae Cells for Electricity With the help of photosynthesis plants convert light energy to chemical energy. This chemical energy is stored in the bonds of sugars they use for food. Photosynthesis happens inside a chloroplast. Chloroplasts are considered as the cellular powerhouses that make sugars and impart leaves and algae a green hue. During photosynthesis water is split into oxygen, protons and electrons. When sunrays fall on the leaves and reach the chloroplast, electrons get excited and attain higher energy level. These excited electrons are caught by proteins. The electrons are passed through a series of proteins. These proteins utilize more of the electrons energy to synthesize sugars until the entire electrons energy is exhausted.