Sustainable development and energy geotechnology — Potential roles for geotechnical engineering
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The world is facing unprecedented challenges related to energy resources, global climate change, material use, and waste generation. Failure to address these challenges will inhibit the growth of the developing world and will negatively impact the standard of living and security of future generations in all nations. The solutions to these challenges will require multidisciplinary research across the social and physical sciences and engineering. Although perhaps not always recognized, geotechnical engineering expertise is critical to the solution of many energy and sustainability-related problems. Hence, geotechnical engineers and academicians have opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the solution of these worldwide problems. Research will need to be extended to non-standard issues such as thermal properties of soils; sediment and rock response to extreme conditions and at very long time scales; coupled hydro-chemo-thermo-bio-mechanical processes; positive feedback systems; the development of discontinuities; biological modification of soil properties; spatial variability; and emergent phenomena. Clearly, the challenges facing geotechnical engineering in the future will require a much broader knowledge base than our traditional educational programs provide. The geotechnical engineering curricula, from undergraduate education through continuing professional education, must address the changing needs of a profession that will increasingly be engaged in alternative/renewable energy production; energy efficiency; sustainable design, enhanced and more efficient use of natural resources, waste management, and underground utilization.
Keywordssustainability energy CO2 sequestration education climate change research geothermal underground storage hydrate
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