The quarrying and construction industries are well known across the world for the sheer magnitude of the equipment they use. The towering cranes, colossal trucks and enormous mobile jaw crushers used in these industries are so ubiquitous and iconic around the globe that they even come in the form of as children’s toys these days.
The problem here is that these machines guzzle fossil fuels like it’s going out of fashion – if we have any hopes of hitting our global carbon emission targets, we either have to slow down our construction and quarrying efforts or we have to find a greener way of doing the same job.
Fortunately there is an alternative to these diesel powered titans. Recent advancements in the field have led to the development of LNG engines – engines running on liquid natural gas (liquid petroleum gas or LPG in the US). LNG, for the most part, is a basically super-chilled methane which can be used in modified engines. Because LNG is typically 95 per cent methane by volume (it can be as high as 99.72 per cent), LNG mostly produces carbon dioxide and water when burned. Because it doesn’t produce other harmful pollutants, it is considered a clean-burning energy source. Given that LNG usage in electric power plants only produces half as much CO2 as a plant using coal, the environmental impact of the construction and quarrying industries adopting LNG as its primary fuel source is potentially massive.
This is something which many independent construction companies have already realised, partly because of the environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions and partly because LNG is around 40 per cent cheaper than diesel. This is because of the massive abundance of underground natural gas reserves – the Shell Corporation has estimated that there is more than 230 years’ worth of methane for LNG stored underground, and that LNG could produce 20 percent of our global gas needs by 2020.
As methane such a small molecule – its chemical formula is simply CH4 – engineers and chemists have found it to be extremely versatile. LNG isn’t the only possible application for natural gas in the construction and quarrying industries. All of the enormous machines used in the industry come with moving parts, and moving parts require maintenance. In particular, moving parts need lubricating. Shell have been working on ways to use low density hydrocarbons such as those found in natural gas as lubricant. Because of their small size and low carbon density, these lubricants have an extremely low viscosity, helping improve engine life and fuel economy.
All of this comes as great news if it’s to help turn the quarrying and constructions in a new, lean and green direction. Considering the economic and ecological benefits of turning to LNG, why haven’t more companies adopted natural gas as their primary fuel source? The short answer is because even if the fuel itself is relatively cheap, the tank which holds the fuel can cost up to $35,000. This is because the pressure valves used to contain the fuel are made in fairly small volumes. If you’re wondering how important the pressure valves are, the fuel is stored at a massive 3,600psi before being regulated down to 200psi for ignition.
As more and more companies move towards using LNG as their primary fuel source the price of these tanks will begin to fall as they are mass-produced. As it stands, companies are likely to break-even on this investment in just two and a half years, which is making LNG a more and more attractive fuel for companies around the world. Moving forwards, these industries have massive savings to look forward to, both in terms of the bottom line and the environment.
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”