Seminar Series

Stirling Machines to Promote Sustainable Human Development


José Egas


Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury

Time & Place

Wed, 27 Mar 2019 12:00:00 NZDT in E14 (Lecture Theatre), Engineering CORE


Sustainable Development is currently one of the most debated issues. We all agree we have to reach global human development in a sustainable way, however, the effects of un-sustainable practices, of which the best known is climate change, grow every year. In some regions, natural resources, including energy, are exploited in an un-sustainable way, despite the fact this is not further enhancing human welfare. In other places, most of the population live under low human development. The worst situation is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, where, due to extreme poverty, life expectancy may drop to 45 years. Poor people can't afford safe energy sources, a situation known as "energy poverty". In the absence of electricity or clean fuels for cooking, heating and illumination, they burn wood and agricultural waste. Millions die every year, mainly women and children, from the exposure to the combustion gases and particles. While the only feasible path towards Sustainable Development is re-structuring our global socioeconomic system, to ensure natural resources and economic growth are used to satisfy everyone's basic human needs; new technologies may also be used to pursue sustainability and human development. Can we harvest the heat released by people's fires to provide them a few watts of electricity, while improving life conditions and promoting sustainable practices? If yes, can we use an affordable thermal machine for this purpose? The current project deals with the design of an affordable electric generator and the identification of the strategies to promote Sustainable Development. In this talk, we explore concepts as diverse as ecological sustainability, human development, inequality and energy poverty, heat engines and optimization of thermal machines, and we try to expose the intricate links between these diverse areas.

Mech Eng seminar, José Egas, Stirling machines