LETTERS & COMMENTS
One reader touts the advan-
tages of waste-to-energy
plants, while another warns about
the human cost of automation.
praises Lee Langston for his discussion
of compressor stall.
To the Editor: In the October 2016 issue,
I noticed that evolution is cited as the
reason that biomimicry is so successful
in helping to solve engineering problems
(“Can 3-D Printing Go Green?” by R.P.
In every example given, the mecha-
nisms or systems found in nature are
stronger, more efficient, quicker reacting,
or more sensitive than the man-made
engineered systems being developed.
Mr. Siegel states, “Life has evolved for
billions of years while solving myriad
problems associated with thriving on this
I find this to be quite counterintuitive.
No one would suggest that if you gave
a team of engineers unlimited time to
solve a problem or design a system, they
could sit back and do nothing since the
solutions and designs would materialize
out of thin air.
On the contrary, we understand that
vast amounts of planning, resources, and
effort are necessary to develop well-engineered solutions to problems.
Yet, by citing evolution as the means
by which nature’s unfathomably complex
designs are created, the writer proposes
that nothing more than random chance
and time are necessary to create the
amazing systems and structures found
all around us.
I enjoy reading how nature is repeat-
edly used as the inspiration for innovative
new engineered systems, but I am unable
to honestly come to the same conclu-
sion presented—that evolution, and not a
supremely capable Creator, is the source
of nature’s incredible designs.
Matt Highstreet, P.E., Sacramento, Calif.
To the Editor: The article by Bucky Kitto
and Larry Hiner in the February 2017 issue (“Clean Power from Burning Trash”)
presented a compelling argument for
waste-to-energy (WTE) as a viable component of a national strategy for clean
renewable power in America. I would like
to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the many mechanical engineers,
both abroad and in the U.S., who have
been diligently advancing the state of the
art for the modern WTE industry over the
past 25 years.
I am a longtime member of ASME with
27 years of experience in the waste-to-energy industry, and I believe modern
WTE should be the preferred option for
anchoring an integrated solid waste management system.
In addition to providing an efficient,
proven, and affordable approach for communities to responsibly manage waste
within their jurisdiction, WTE also maximizes the production of renewable energy
from waste, producing two to three times
the energy that can be recovered from
capture of methane gas from landfills.
The volume of waste is minimized and the
ash can be recycled by local construction
aggregates and feedstock for manufacturing of Portland cement.
What’s more, WTE has minimal land
use impacts. A waste-to-energy facility
can meet the current and future needs of
a community on 25 to 50 acres, far less
than the hundreds, and in many cases,
thousands of acres which have already
been consumed by landfill disposal.
Paul L. Hauck, P.E., Tampa, Fla.
To the Editor: In my career in the power
generation business I have been associated with both aircraft and industrial
gas turbine operation. I consider the
Lee S. Langston article in the April 2017
issue, “Out Through the Intake,” to be an
outstanding contribution to the general
engineering community to explain stall
and surge in gas turbines, discuss the
consequences of these events, and describe current industry activities to help
mitigate stall events in various applications of gas turbines.
The article provides professionals
associated with the operation of gas
turbines a more in-depth understanding
of the compressor stall process and an
understanding of the ramifications of stall
and surge in an operating environment.
Lee Langston is a frequent contributor to Mechanical Engineering and his
articles are always of great interest and
relevance to the mechanical engineering
community. This was one of his best. I
look forward to his next article with great
The ASME continues to lead many
important conversations regarding mechanical engineering issues in Mechanical
Engineering magazine; the entire staff deserves a “shout out” for a job well done.
Richard T. Laudenat, P.E., East Haddam, Conn.
To the Editor: Jeffrey Winters’s Trending
article on automation (“By the Numbers:
Taking the Tasks,” April 2017) is well done
and most interesting. However, he relies on
a McKinsey study that states, “rather than
being a job killer, the wide deployment of
automation will boost productivity.”
This is sugar coated. The Luddites
were wrong about the industrial revolu-
THE SCOURGE OF TURBINE SURGE
A KINETIC SCULPTOR
CENTRIFUGE ON A STRING
INTO THE WIND
Companies are racing
to turn steady offshore
breezes into the next major
Technology that moves the world