Tag: Mechanical Engineering

Why Having Consistent Power Is Critical for Maintaining Livable Interior Air Quality in Buildings During Wildfires

Why Having Consistent Power Is Critical for Maintaining Livable Interior Air Quality in Buildings During Wildfires

Why Having Consistent Power Is Critical for Maintaining Livable Interior Air Quality in Buildings During Wildfires

01/23/20

“Why is it important for a building to have consistent power to ensure breathability during wildfires?”

 

Air filtration devices are critical for providing breathable interior air quality during wildfires. However, these devices tend to be dependent on a consistent supply of electricity. If this is pulled, such as in the case of public power shutoffs, then these devices will also collapse, destroying their resiliency benefits. This is Why Having Consistent Power Is Critical for Maintaining Livable Interior Air Quality in Buildings During Wildfires.

How Prefabricated Housing Creates Resilience for Communities

How Prefabricated Housing Creates Resilience for Communities

How Prefabricated Housing Creates Resilience for Communities

12/12/19

“How does prefabricated housing create resilience for communities?”

 

Prefabricated housing represents a paradigm shift in the construction industry. No longer do projects have to rely on intricate designs and supply chains, now they are free to use a general template that can be replicated with ease. Not only is this more sustainable due to using fewer resources, but it also allows for greater resiliency in many ways. More houses can be built at a quicker rate for less investment, allowing for refugees to move in en-masse. These homes can also be built to the latest resilience standards, and parts can be easily replaced in case of a disaster due to their mass-produced nature. Finally, their simplified construction supply chain makes them less poised for disruption. This is How Prefabricated Housing Creates Resilience for Communities.

Image credit inhabitat.com

Why Resilience Engineers Must Consult With the Inhabitants They Work With

Why Resilience Engineers Must Consult With the Inhabitants They Work With

Why Resilience Engineers Must Consult With the Inhabitants They Work With

12/10/19

“Why do engineers working on resilience projects need to consult the inhabitants they work with?”

 

Engineers will be at the forefront of designing resilience projects. However, far too often these are completed without any input from the local inhabitants. This leads to problems, notably the implementation of infrastructure which does not suit the local environment. For example, a sea-wall might cut off a fishing community from their catch, or planned power shut-off from wildfires might disrupt the operations of a medical center. This is Why Resilience Engineers Must Consult With the Inhabitants They Work With.

How to Protect Building Windows Against Wildfires

How to Protect Building Windows Against Wildfires

How to Protect Building Windows Against Wildfires

12/08/19

“How can we protect our windows against wildfires?”

 

Wildfires are an extreme threat to the built environment. And one of the most vulnerable elements is windows. Their fragile makeup can be destroyed by the radiant heat of fires alone. To protect against this, facility owners can implement double glazing with tempered glass on the exterior or even roll-down metal fire doors that activate in case of a fire. All of these are great ways of thinking of How to Protect Building Windows Against Wildfires.

Image credit https://disastersafety.org/

Fireproof Housing

Fireproof Housing

Fireproof Housing

12/06/19

“How can we create homes that are resilient to wildfires?”

 

Wildfires are destroying homes all over dry, forested areas. And with the ascent of climate change, the wildland-urban interface is only becoming larger and more deadly. To save lives, we need to think about how to make our housing stock more resilient to these disasters. This can come in the form of Fireproof Housing, often accomplished by changing the external surface to a burn-resistant material such as fiber-cement composite or creating a defensive landscape.

Image credit image.cnbcfm.com

Elad Orian, Co-founder of Comet-ME

Elad Orian, Co-founder of Comet-ME

Elad Orian, Co-founder of Comet-ME

We here at Isaac’s Science Blog are pleased to be hosting our sixth professional interview, this time with Elad Orian! Elad is the co-founder of Comet-ME, an Israeli-Palestinian organization providing renewable energy and clean water services to off-grid communities in some of the most marginalized parts of the Palestinian Territories using environmentally and socially sustainable methods.

1. Tell us about yourself and your educational/professional background.

I studied physics and later environmental science/policy. I’ve been doing my current work for 10 years now.

2. What inspired you to work in energy?

I’m a political activist along with my partner (Noam Dotan). We started thinking about something more proactive and using our abilities and know-how and energy was a very natural conclusion

3. Why did you help found Comet-ME

We actually started doing this type of work before we officially established Comet. It just so happened that these activities were relatively successful and grew really fast to the point that we needed an organization/framework that can handle this. As a result, Comet-ME was born.

4. Tell us about some of the challenges that of the Palestinian residents that you worked with.

We work with Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank. In the Oslo accords the West Bank was divided into three areas (A under control of the Palestinian Authority, B under Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control, and C, which happens to be the majority of West Bank under control of the Israeli government). We work in an area where the Palestinian Authority cannot provide electricity/water to communities. There are communities in A/B that have no electricity but we made a strategic decision to not replace the position Palestinian Authority.

5. What does the life-cycle of an average project look like?

One of the first things we do is to build trust with the community. We know what we do and why we do it, but the people we work with need proof. It is important that we go into a community when we know that we have the funding. We are lucky to have so many long-term donors trust us so when we start a project/budget cycle we don’t know where we are going to work because we need to do a survey of the community, conditions of each place, and then we do a detailed design of system and then we will purchase all the equipment that is required. There are some long-lead items so we do work in houses of the villagers and then once we have everything we install it. Once the installation is finished the hard work is started when service is provided. Because Comet is about providing service and we make sure service is running for a long period of time. In this way, we are like a utility. Every system brings service.

6. What technology does Comet-ME use to help communities establish energy independence?

We always use solar systems. Sometimes wind/diesel hybrids. Our systems can be designed to work from 1 family up to 40/50 families.

7. Tell us about your water program

After a few years of working exclusively with electricity, we decided that we had the organizational capacity to do something else. This is a very different program since many of them already have water, just not enough. Our system is a pump attached to a filter to obtain clean water, it’s a simple single-family system that collects rainwater and pumps it. We developed a system that pumps and filters rainwater using electricity when the batteries are full. There is also a stewardship component where water quality is sampled from all the users on a regular sample schedule to make sure systems are doing what they are meant to do.

8. Is Comet-ME looking at the Water-Energy Nexus and if so how is it?

Very much. Our water systems are dependent on our electricity systems for operation.

9. Have you received any interest from universities on the work that you do?

We have some collaborations with some universities. We also have a few students that have written master’s degrees with us. We don’t do much advertisement so we’re not really a household name.

10. Is Comet-ME looking at how to deal with climate change resilience?

Although we don’t title it, our work is directly tied with climate resilience due to providing an independent source of energy

11. How do you see your organization fit into a long-term Israeli-Palestinian peace partnership?

If there is a peace agreement signed and the West Bank becomes a Palestinian state then we would gladly hand over systems to a Palestinian organization to handle it. I don’t think it would be a problem.

12. Do you think that the Comet-ME model has any application outside of the Palestinian territories?

There are many components that certainly are and some that are idiosyncratic to conditions/politics of the West Bank.

13. What can someone do to help out with your organization?

One can always donate money, also if you’re technically inclined and interested in such issues we do have volunteers from time to time. Feel free to reach out and join us!

Conclusion

So there you have it! Elad, we are very grateful for giving us your time to talk about this very important work. Your organization’s work is a textbook example of how people can apply their scientific knowledge to make the world a better place.

 

If you would like to connect with Elad and Come-ME, you can find their website here and their facebook page here.

 

Image credit DW.com

Why Climate Change Is a Major Threat to Bridges

Why Climate Change Is a Major Threat to Bridges

Why Climate Change Is a Major Threat to Bridges

11/16/19

“Why are many bridges in danger of failing because of climate change?”

 

Bridges are vital pieces of critical infrastructure for any nation. Whether it be used for transporting goods or people, bridges are able to link disparate parts of an area together. Usually, these bridges are designed to operate in certain weather conditions. However, with the changing climate, so will these. According to research from Colorado State University, the additional heat stress in the future will cause numerous bridges to fail from failed expansion joints if no resilience action is taken. This will end up creating much stress on local communities and guaranteed economic loss. This is Why Climate Change Is a Major Threat to Bridges.