The 20th century was characterized by rapid economic growth, which widely used natural and energy resources. This was the main reason for the increasing environmental pollution and depletion of valuable natural resources. Green engineering aims at the design and manufacture of products to preserve natural resources in terms of sustainable development. These principles are intended to provide a basis for the activities of scientists and engineers participating in the development of new materials, products, processes, and systems that are safe for human health and the environment (Ruiz-Mercado et al. 6212). Green engineering involves construction, chemical industry, production of cars, consumer goods and devices, etc.
Paul Anastas and Julie Zimmerman introduced 12 principles of green engineering. According to one of the principles, green engineers should strive to ensure that all the materials and energy expended and allocated are as safe as possible. It is better to prevent the formation of waste than to recycle or dispose of it. Another principle states that the implementation of separation and purification procedures should be developed to minimize the use of materials and energy consumption (Mitsch 10). It is noted that products, processes, and systems are to be designed in such a way that maximizes mass, energy, space, and efficiency over time. The planned sustainability, but not “immortality” should be the engineering goal. It is desirable that the products are well-manufactured and stable during their exploitation period, but they should not be persistent, leading to environmental problems. Among other principles, there are such points as renewing rather than depleting, integrating material and energy flows, minimizing material diversity, meeting a need and minimizing excess, output-pulled versus input-pushed, conserving complexity, and designing for separation.
Speaking of the benefits of green engineering, one may note its key characters such as a holistic approach to the environment. There is also a great business opportunity for profit based on green products: beginning with using less oil and ending with a high demand for monitoring and cleaning products. One of the specific engineering solutions is environmental monitoring in the Costa Rican Rain Forest. The use of wireless technology developed by engineers allows measuring the environmental indicators without any harm. Another vivid example is Enginuity that improved the efficiency of large internal combustion (IC) engines. Their innovation allows reducing the level of emissions such as nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. Other large industrial companies are also using green engineering in their products to be able to utilize them after minor repairs or recycling (IBM, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, etc.).
As for constraints, one may note the insufficient readiness to pay for environmental enhancement that is a significant financial factor limiting the innovation in the given field. Some companies prefer to purchase monitoring products rather than spend on green engineering. The lack of awareness of the benefits this new engineering offers is another constraint. The global economic competition of recent decades has caused new technological achievements in the production of a wide variety of customer goods. However, new technologies are primarily aimed at meeting the greater part of human consumption needs and social aspirations rather than at the environmental improvement. In this connection, it is necessary to review the problems of sustainability, renewable raw materials, new sources of energy, and strategies to meet the customers’ needs, while, at the same time, protecting the environment.
Mitsch, William J. “What is Ecological Engineering?.” Ecological Engineering, vol. 45, no. 2, 2012, pp. 5-12.
Ruiz-Mercado, Gerardo J., Ana Carvalho, and Heriberto Cabezas. “Using Green Chemistry and Engineering Principles To Design, Assess, and Retrofit Chemical Processes for Sustainability.” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, vol. 4, no. 11, 2016, pp. 6208-6221.