Gritsch CS, Kleist G, Murphy RJ (2004) Developmental changes in cell wall structure of phloem fibres of the bamboo Dendrocalamus asper., Ann Bot 94 (4) pp. 497-505
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Bamboo culms have excellent physical and mechanical properties, which mainly depend on their fibre content and anatomical structure. One of the features which is known to contribute to the high tensile strength in bamboo is the multilayered structure of the fibre cell wall. The aim of this study was to characterize the development of the layered structure in fibre cell walls of developing and maturing culms of Dendrocalamus asper. METHODS: Cell wall development patterns were investigated in phloem fibre caps of vascular bundles in the inner culm wall areas of Dendrocalamus asper of three different age classes (
Wang L, Templer R, Murphy RJ (2012) A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparison of three management options for waste papers: bioethanol production, recycling and incineration with energy recovery., Bioresour Technol 120 pp. 89-98
This study uses Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to assess the environmental profiles and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for bioethanol production from waste papers and to compare them with the alternative waste management options of recycling or incineration with energy recovery. Bioethanol production scenarios both with and without pre-treatments were conducted. It was found that an oxidative lime pre-treatment reduced GHG emissions and overall environmental burdens for a newspaper-to-bioethanol process whereas a dilute acid pre-treatment raised GHG emissions and overall environmental impacts for an office paper-to-bioethanol process. In the comparison of bioethanol production systems with alternative management of waste papers by different technologies, it was found that the environmental profiles of each system vary significantly and this variation affects the outcomes of the specific comparisons made. Overall, a number of configurations of bioethanol production from waste papers offer environmentally favourable or neutral profiles when compared with recycling or incineration.
Hingston JA, Moore J, Murphy RJ, Lester JN, Collins CD (2003) Speciation of Cr and As leachates from CCA treated wood by differential pulse polarography, HOLZFORSCHUNG 57 (6) pp. 597-601 WALTER DE GRUYTER & CO
Ray MJ, Leak DJ, Spanu PD, Murphy RJ (2010) Brown rot fungal early stage decay mechanism as a biological pretreatment for softwood biomass in biofuel production, Biomass and Bioenergy 34 (8) pp. 1257-1262
A current barrier to the large-scale production of lignocellulosic biofuels is the cost associated with the energy and chemical inputs required for feedstock pretreatment and hydrolysis. The use of controlled partial biological degradation to replace elements of the current pretreatment technologies would offer tangible energy and cost benefits to the whole biofuel process. It has been known for some time from studies of wood decay that, in the early stages of growth in wood, brown rot fungi utilise a mechanism that causes rapid and extensive depolymerisation of the carbohydrate polymers of the wood cell wall. The brown rot hyphae act as delivery vectors to the plant cell wall for what is thought to be a combination of a localised acid pretreatment and a hydroxyl radical based depolymerisation of the cell wall carbohydrate polymers. It is this quality that we have exploited in the present work to enhance the saccharification potential of softwood forest residues for biofuel production. Here we show that after restricted exposure of pine sapwood to brown rot fungi, glucose yields following enzymatic saccharification are significantly increased. Our results demonstrate the potential of using brown rot fungi as a biological pretreatment for biofuel production. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Gonzalez-Garcia S, Garcia Lozano R, Teresa Moreira M, Gabarrell X, Rieradevall i Pons J, Feijoo G, Murphy RJ (2012) Eco-innovation of a wooden childhood furniture set: An example of environmental solutions in the wood sector, SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT 426 pp. 318-326 ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Black MJ, Whittaker C, Hosseini SA, Diaz-Chavez R, Woods J, Murphy RJ (2011) Life Cycle Assessment and sustainability methodologies for assessing industrial crops, processes and end products, Industrial Crops and Products
Fernandez EC, Palijon AM, Liese W, Esguerra FL, Murphy RJ (2003) Growth performance of two bamboo species in new plantations, Journal of Bamboo and Rattan 2 (3) pp. 225-239
The growth performance of new stands of Dendrocalamus asper and Gigantochloa levis on marginal lands and fertilized with three organic fertilizers was assessed over a period of 4 years. The experimental site was in the UP Laguna-Quezon Land Grant in Real, Quezon, Philippines. The results have shown a very high survival (100%) rate and comparatively good growth and development of both species. The influence of the organic fertilizers on average number of shoot emergents, number of culms per clump, average height and culm diameter was only significant during the first year of plantation establishment. It is concluded that no statistically significant and consistent improvement in establishment of the clumps or growth and quality of the culms could be assigned to the effects of the organic fertilizers studied over the first four years of plantation establishment at this site.
Black MJ, Whittaker C, Hosseini SA, Diaz-Chavez R, Woods J, Murphy RJ (2011) Life Cycle Assessment and sustainability methodologies for assessing industrial crops, processes and end products, Industrial Crops and Products 34 (2) pp. 1332-1339
Providing food, energy and materials for the rising global population is a challenge which is compounded by increased pressure on natural resources such as land, water and fossil sources of raw materials. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities have increased with industrial development and population expansion, and it is anticipated that resulting climate change might further limit agricultural productivity, through changes to weather patterns and global availability/distribution of agriculturally productive land. Growing crops as feedstocks for industrial uses is seen as one way of reducing GHG emissions and dependency on fossil resources. However, determining the extent to which the development of crops for industrial use will effect GHG balances and provide for a more energy efficient manufacturing system requires the development and use of appropriate calculation methodologies.Research at the Porter Institute has identified over 250 different scenarios for bioenergy production systems using commodity crops. In order to rationalise this complexity and diversity, a modular approach to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and sustainability analysis has been taken. This allows characterisation of discrete sections of supply chains and enables comparisons to be made between different crop production systems, different process systems and different end product uses. The purposes of this paper are to introduce the concepts of biofuel GHG and sustainability metrics, to introduce the approach taken by our organization and to use the example of UK grown willow in a lignocellulosic ethanol production system to demonstrate how GHG emission outcomes can be reviewed for " new" crops and technologies.The results show a range of variation, in both growing and process systems and how outcomes such as energy and GHG balances can be affected by various activities.LCA methodologies provide data to inform governments and industry of the potential specific supply chains may have for energy and GHG saving. However, methodological approaches can also affect assessment outcomes. Unresolved issues in LCA methodology must also be evaluated e.g. impacts resulting from land use change. Sustainability assessments of crop growing systems, irrespective of the end use, also assist in the assessment of environmental impacts of supply chains. However, it is critical that data continue to be collected, analysed and reviewed, to ensure that the most appropriate crops are grown and p
Murphy R, Detzel A, Guo M, Krüger M (2011) Comment on "sustainability metrics: Life cycle assessment and green design in polymers", Environmental Science and Technology 45 (11) pp. 5055-5056
Guo M, Murphy RJ (2012) LCA data quality: Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT 435 pp. 230-243 ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Wang L, Sharifzadeh M, Templer R, Murphy RJ (2012) Technology performance and economic feasibility of bioethanol production from various waste papers, Energy and Environmental Science 5 (2) pp. 5717-5730
Producing bioethanol from various wastes is a promising strategy to meet part of the transport energy demand and also to contribute to waste management. Waste papers (newspaper, office paper, magazines and cardboard in this work) with their 50% to 70% carbohydrate content are potential raw materials for bioethanol production. From both technical and economic aspects, bioethanol production processes for various waste papers were evaluated in this study. High-solids loading (15% w/w) enzymatic hydrolyses using two enzyme alternatives (Celluclast 1.5 L supplemented with Novozyme 188 and Cellic Ctec 1) achieved glucan conversion efficiencies from waste papers of 50% to 76%. Base case process models developed using these experimental data were then applied to an economic analysis to determine the minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) for bioethanol derived from the waste papers using a discounted cash flow method. The effects of several processing parameters: alternative product recovery processes, enzyme loading, enzymatic hydrolysis residence time and two enzyme alternatives on the MESP are explored. Bioethanol produced from cardboard (using Cellic Ctec 1) resulted in the lowest MESP. Two state-of-the-art technologies, dilute acid pre-treatment on office paper and oxidative lime pre-treatment on newspaper, were also investigated. This study suggests that bioethanol production from waste papers is feasible and profitable from both technical and economic points of view. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2012.
Vesentini D, Dickinson DJ, Murphy RJ (2006) Fungicides affect the production of extracellular mucilaginous material (ECMM) and the peripheral growth unit (PGU) in two wood-rotting basidiomycetes., Mycol Res 110 (Pt 10) pp. 1207-1213
This study shows the effect of two fungicides on the production of extracellular mucilaginous material (ECMM) in two wood-rotting basidiomycetes and identifies a mechanism that might be responsible for the variation observed. Increasing concentrations of the fungicides copper sulphate (CuSO4) and cyproconazole in the growth medium increased the proportion of ECMM in the biomass of Trametes versicolor and Gloeophyllum trabeum. These fungicides also caused a reduction in the length of the peripheral growth unit (PGU) of the mycelia leading to a more highly branched morphology and a larger number of hyphal tips, the sites for active secretion of ECMM, per unit length of mycelium. It is postulated that both in T. versicolor and G. trabeum this change in growth leads to the increases observed in the proportion of ECMM in the total biomass. The implications of these results are discussed with a view to a potential protective role of ECMM against stress and toxic environments.
Sulaiman O, Murphy RJ, Hashim R, Sanchis Gritsch C (2005) The inhibition of microbial growth by bamboo vinegar, Journal of Bamboo and Rattan 4 (1) pp. 71-80
The ability of bamboo vinegar, produced from the pyrolysis of Gigantochloa scortechinii Gamble culms from Kedah, Malaysia, to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms was investigated using a laboratory-based assay. The inhibitory effects of cellulose discs treated with bamboo vinegar at 10%, 50% and 100% (no dilution) concentration on the growth of 7 fungal and 3 bacterial species was investigated. The two higher concentrations of bamboo vinegar showed growth-inhibiting effects against Aureobasidium pullulans (MBRB1-3), Chaetomium globosum (FPRL S70K), all three bacterial species and some effect with the other fungal species except Coriolus versicolor (FPRL 28A). The inhibition of growth followed a dose dependent response with the 100% concentration being the most effective. It is concluded that bamboo vinegar contains compounds that are inhibitory to microbial growth although specific evidence for activity at low concentrations, e.g., below 1% total organic compounds, was not obtained. © VSP 2005.
Song JH, Murphy RJ, Narayan R, Davies GBH (2009) Biodegradable and compostable alternatives to conventional plastics, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364 (1526) pp. 2127-2139
Packaging waste forms a significant part of municipal solid waste and has caused increasing environmental concerns, resulting in a strengthening of various regulations aimed at reducing the amounts generated. Among other materials, a wide range of oil-based polymers is currently used in packaging applications. These are virtually all non-biodegradable, and some are difficult to recycle or reuse due to being complex composites having varying levels of contamination. Recently, significant progress has been made in the development of biodegradable plastics, largely from renewable natural resources, to produce biodegradable materials with similar functionality to that of oil-based polymers. The expansion in these bio-based materials has several potential benefits for greenhouse gas balances and other environmental impacts over whole life cycles and in the use of renewable, rather than finite resources. It is intended that use of biodegradable materials will contribute to sustainability and reduction in the environmental impact associated with disposal of oil-based polymers. The diversity of biodegradable materials and their varying properties makes it difficult to make simple, generic assessments such as biodegradable products are all 'good' or petrochemical-based products are all 'bad'. This paper discusses the potential impacts of biodegradable packaging materials and their waste management, particularly via composting. It presents the key issues that inform judgements of the benefits these materials have in relation to conventional, petrochemical-based counterparts. Specific examples are given from new research on biodegradability in simulated 'home' composting systems. It is the view of the authors that biodegradable packaging materials are most suitable for single-use disposable applications where the post-consumer waste can be locally composted.
Vlasopoulos N, Memon FA, Butler D, Murphy R (2006) Life cycle assessment of wastewater treatment technologies treating petroleum process waters, SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT 367 (1) pp. 58-70 ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Whittaker C, Mortimer N, Murphy R, Matthews R (2011) Energy and greenhouse gas balance of the use of forest residues for bioenergy production in the UK, Biomass and Bioenergy 35 (11) pp. 4581-4594
Life cycle analysis is used to assess the energy requirements and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with extracting UK forest harvesting residues for use as a biomass resource. Three forest harvesting residues were examined (whole tree thinnings, roundwood and brash bales), and each have their own energy and emission profile. The whole forest rotation was examined, including original site establishment, forest road construction, biomass harvesting during thinning and final clear-fell events, chipping and transportation. Generally, higher yielding sites give lower GHG emissions per 'oven dried tonne' (ODT) forest residues, but GHG emissions 'per hectare' are higher as more biomass is extracted. Greater quantities of biomass, however, ultimately mean greater displacement of conventional fuels and therefore greater potential for GHG emission mitigation. Although forest road construction and site establishment are " one off" events they are highly energy-intensive operations associated with high diesel fuel consumption, when placed in context with the full forest rotation, however, their relative contributions to the overall energy requirements and GHG emissions are small. The lower bulk density of wood chips means that transportation energy requirements and GHG emissions are higher compared with roundwood logs and brash bales, suggesting that chipping should occur near the end-user of application. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Bamboo is potentially an interesting feedstock for advanced bioethanol production in China due to its natural abundance, rapid growth, perennial nature and low management requirements. Liquid hot water (LHW) pretreatment was selected as a promising technology to enhance sugar release from bamboo lignocellulose whilst keeping economic and environmental costs to a minimum. The present research was conducted to assess: 1) by how much LHW pretreatment can enhance sugar yields in bamboo, and 2) whether this process has the potential to be economically feasible for biofuel use at the commercial scale. Pretreatments were performed at temperatures of 170-190°C for 10-30 minutes, followed by enzymatic saccharification with a commercial enzyme cocktail at various loadings. These data were then used as inputs to a techno-economic model using AspenPlus" to determine the production cost of bioethanol from bamboo in China.
Ray MJ, Brereton NJB, Shield I, Karp A, Murphy RJ (2012) Variation in Cell Wall Composition and Accessibility in Relation to Biofuel Potential of Short Rotation Coppice Willows, BIOENERGY RESEARCH 5 (3) pp. 685-698 SPRINGER
Hashim R, Sulaiman O, Kumar RN, Tamyez PF, Murphy RJ, Ali Z (2009) Physical and mechanical properties of flame retardant urea formaldehyde medium density fiberboard, JOURNAL OF MATERIALS PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY 209 (2) pp. 635-640 ELSEVIER SCIENCE SA
Hingston JA, Collins CD, Murphy RJ, Lester JN (2001) Leaching of chromated copper arsenate wood preservatives: a review, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION 111 (1) pp. 53-66 ELSEVIER SCI LTD
Vesentini D, Dickinson DJ, Murphy RJ (2006) Analysis of the hyphal load during early stages of wood decay by basidiomycetes in the presence of the wood preservative fungicides CuSO 4 and cyproconazole, Holzforschung 60 (6) pp. 637-642
This study considers variations in hyphal load in decaying wood in the presence of the fungicides CuSO4 and cyproconazole. Variations in the chitin content of hyphae following exposure to both fungicides have been detected. Increasing concentrations of CuSO4 and cyproconazole in wood caused an increase in the amount of N-acetyl glucosamine in the mycelia of Coriolus versicolor and Gloeophyllum trabeum, which may be associated with increased deposition of chitin. This may in turn be an expression of the formation of a thicker cell wall at increased fungicide concentrations. Low concentrations of both fungicides also caused an increase in the amount of mycelium produced by G. trabeum. However, the same concentrations were effective at preventing mass loss, indicating that the fungal mycelium was less effective at decaying wood, despite being present in relatively large amounts. In the case of C. versicolor, this effect was not observed, as increasing concentrations of both fungicides caused an initial decrease in the amount of mycelium, followed by a recovery phase at intermediate chemical concentrations. Again, mass loss was greatly inhibited by the presence of low concentrations of both fungicides. © 2006 by Walter de Gruyter 2006.
Guo M, Littlewood J, Joyce J, Murphy R (2014) The environmental profile of bioethanol produced from current and potential future poplar feedstocks in the EU, Green Chem. pp. --- Royal Society of Chemistry
Although biofuels have the potential for mitigating climate change and enhancing energy security, controversy regarding their overall environmental sustainability is considered a significant bottleneck in their development at both global and EU levels. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was applied to model the current and prospective environmental profiles for poplar-derived bioethanol across various potential EU supply chains (different poplar plantation management, different pretreatment technologies for bioethanol production, five EU locations). LCA modelling indicated that E100 (100% bioethanol) and E85 (85% bioethanol, 15% petrol) fuels derived from Poplar from various locations in the EU had environmental impact scores some 10% to 90% lower than petrol in global warming potential, abiotic depletion potential, ozone depletion potential and photochemical oxidation potential depending upon the exact poplar supply chain and conversion technology modelled. Hybrid poplar clones with higher biomass yields, modified composition and improved cell wall accessibility had a clear potential to deliver a more environmentally sustainable lignocellulosic biorefining industry with environmental scores some 50% lower than with conventional poplar feedstocks. A particular aspect of the present study that warrants further research is the contribution that soil carbon accumulation can make to achieving low-GHG fuels in the future.
Ray M, Kleist G, Murphy R (2005) Decay assessment in a hardwood handrail at the South Bank, London, Journal of the Institute of Wood Science 17 (1) pp. 51-58
A timber handrail made from the hardwood Keruing (Dipterocarpus spp.) and exposed in European Hazard Class 3 on railings at the Southbank, London was investigated to (i) determine the visual damage on the hardwood railing cappings quantitatively and to (ii) identify the causal organisms, and (in) to characterise their decay patterns in the wood. The service life of this handrail of at least 25 years so far shows impressively that Keruing of this quality has exhibited a reasonable resistance to decay for the period. However, the selection of this timber for the construction may not have been ideal due to its large dimensional movement and the effect of this on the aesthetic appearance, in the form of extensive surface cracking, of several of the timber sections, including those rated as free from decay. The two principal decay organisms were identified as the white rot fungus Phellinus contiguus (Fr.) Pat. and the brown rot fungus Dacrymyces stillatus Nees:Fr. Decay patterns observed in the samples of the handrail and in invitro tests demonstrated the ability of P. contiguus and D. stillatus to cause a soft rot -like decay pattern in addition to their typical modes of action, i.e. white and brown rot. These results indicate that "classical" criteria in linking decay features to certain decay types and fungi can be much more complex than expected. Depending on the fungal species, a transition or switch mechanism between brown + soft rot and white + soft rot respectively is probable.
Guo M, Li C, Facciotto G, Bergante S, Bhatia R, Comolli R, Ferre C, Murphy R (2015) Bioethanol from poplar clone Imola: an environmentally viable alternative to fossil fuel?, BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS 8 ARTN 134 BIOMED CENTRAL LTD
Littlewood J, Murphy RJ, Wang L (2013) Importance of policy support and feedstock prices on economic feasibility of bioethanol production from wheat straw in the UK, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 17 pp. 291-300
The economic feasibility of producing bioethanol from wheat straw in the UK using various state-of-the-art pretreatment technologies (steam explosion with and without acid catalyst, liquid hot water, dilute acid and wet oxidation) is assessed in this study. Under the current-technology base-case modeled using high enzyme loadings demonstrated at the laboratory-scale, wet oxidation pretreatment had the lowest minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) of £0.347/L ($2.032/gal). A contribution analysis showed feedstock price and enzyme cost were the two greatest contributors to the MESP, which led to a prospective case study and sensitivity analysis for assessing the effects of these two factors on the potential for economically competitive wheat straw-to-bioethanol UK supply chains. Prospective case studies modeled with a reduced enzyme loading and cost, demonstrated that although pretreatment scenarios with liquid hot water and steam explosion without acid catalyst were the closest to petrol pump prices, policy support in the form of tax exemptions could significantly enhance competitiveness of bioethanol with conventional fuel. A sensitivity analysis of feedstock prices also demonstrated that access to wheat straw prices of £35/t or lower would allow bioethanol production to be competitive with petrol under the best case scenario. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Wang Y, Gao Y-X, Song J, Bonin M, Guo M, Murphy R (2010) Assessment of Technical and Environmental Performances of Wheat-Based Foams in Thermal Packaging Applications, PACKAGING TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE 23 (7) pp. 363-382 JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD
Vesentini D, Dickinson DJ, Murphy RJ (2007) The protective role of the extracellular mucilaginous material (ECMM) from two wood-rotting basidiomycetes against copper toxicity, International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 60 (1) pp. 1-7
The extracellular mucilaginous material (ECMM) layer surrounding the hyphae of the white-rot fungus Coriolus versicolor (CTB 863 A) and of the brown-rot fungus Gloeophyllum trabeum (FPRL 108 N) were tested for their ability to protect against the diffusion of Cu2+ ions. Colonies of C. versicolor originating from ECMM-free inocula were affected to a greater extent than those retaining ECMM layers by the presence of up to 2 mM CuSO4 in the growth medium. The growth of G. trabeum seemed to be unaffected by the presence of ECMM surrounding the mycelium. Diffusion studies revealed that raw ECMM of C. versicolor had a greater ability to reduce Cu2+ diffusion than treated ECMM, which were subjected to dialysis to remove low-molecular-weight compounds. For both species, a water-soluble and a water-insoluble fraction of ECMM were isolated. The latter was the most effective at reducing the diffusion of Cu2+ ions. In C. versicolor, insoluble ECMM maintained its ability to limit Cu2+ diffusion even after dialysis. The different effect of ECMM on growth, as observed between the two species may be due to variation in the ECMM composition and arrangement around the hypha. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Guo M, Murphy RJ (2012) Is There a Generic Environmental Advantage for Starch-PVOH Biopolymers Over Petrochemical Polymers?, JOURNAL OF POLYMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT 20 (4) pp. 976-990 SPRINGER/PLENUM PUBLISHERS
Guo M, Trzcinski AP, Stuckey DC, Murphy RJ (2011) Anaerobic digestion of starch-polyvinyl alcohol biopolymer packaging: biodegradability and environmental impact assessment., Bioresour Technol 102 (24) pp. 11137-11146
The digestibility of a starch-polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) biopolymer insulated cardboard coolbox was investigated under a defined anaerobic digestion (AD) system with key parameters characterized. Laboratory results were combined with industrial operational data to develop a site-specific life cycle assessment (LCA) model. Inoculated with active bacterial trophic groups, the anaerobic biodegradability of three starch-PVOH biopolymers achieved 58-62%. The LCA modeling showed that the environmental burdens of the starch-PVOH biopolymer packaging under AD conditions on acidification, eutrophication, global warming and photochemical oxidation potential were dominated by atmospheric emissions released from substrate degradation and fuel combustion, whereas energy consumption and infrastructure requirements were the causes of abiotic depletion, ozone depletion and toxic impacts. Nevertheless, for this bio-packaging, AD of the starch-PVOH biopolymer combined with recycling of the cardboard emerged as the environmentally superior option and optimization of the energy utilization system could bring further environmental benefits to the AD process.
Sadhukhan J, Martinez-Hernandez E, Murphy R, Ng D, Hassim M, Ng K, Kim W, Jaye I, Leung M, Hang P, Andiappan V (2017) Role of Bioenergy, Biorefinery and Bioeconomy in Sustainable Development: Strategic Pathways for Malaysia, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 81 (Part 2) pp. 1966-1987
Malaysia has a plethora of biomass that can be utilized in a sustainable manner to produce bio-products for circular green economy. At the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, Malaysia stated to voluntarily reduce its emissions intensity of gross domestic product by upto 40% by 2020 from 2005 level. Natural resources e.g. forestry and agricultural resources will attribute in achieving these goals. This paper investigates optimum bio-based systems, such as bioenergy and biorefinery, and their prospects in sustainable development in Malaysia, while analyzing comparable cases globally. Palm oil industry will continue to play a major role in deriving products and contributing to gross national income in Malaysia. Based on the current processing capacity, one tonne of crude palm oil (CPO) production is associated with nine tonnes of biomass generation. Local businesses tend to focus on products with low-risk that enjoy subsidies, e.g. Feed-in-Tariff, such as bioenergy, biogas, etc. CPO biomass is utilized to produce biogas, pellets, dried long fibre and bio-fertilizer and recycle water. It is envisaged that co-production of bio-based products, food and pharmaceutical ingredients, fine, specialty and platform chemicals, polymers, alongside biofuel and bioenergy from biomass is possible to achieve overall sustainability by the replacement of fossil resources. Inception of process integration gives prominent innovative biorefinery configurations, an example demonstrated recently, via extraction of recyclable, metal, high value chemical (levulinic acid), fuel, electricity and bio-fertilizer from municipal solid waste or urban waste. Levulinic acid yield by only 5 weight% of waste feedstock gives 1.5 fold increase in profitability and eliminates the need for subsidies such as gate fees paid by local authority to waste processor. Unsustainable practices include consumable food wastage, end-of-pipe cleaning and linear economy that must be replaced by sustainable production and consumption, source segregation and process integration, and product longevity and circular economy.
The sustainable biorefinery will only be realised with a focus on optimal combinations of feedstock-process technologies-products. For many years, industry has been looking to add value to the by-products of commercial agriculture, forestry and processing. More recently, as concerns about climate change have increased around the globe, the use of biomass as a carbon saving feedstock (compared to fossil feedstock) has led to the implementation of policies to encourage its use for bioenergy, biofuels and bio-based products. As biomass conversion technologies become reality at the commercial scale for a range of diverse end products, the need to establish bespoke biomass supply chains also becomes a reality and industrial developers will face many business-critical decisions on the sourcing of biomass and location of conversion plants (biorefineries). The research presented here, aims to address these issues through the development of a comprehensive database to aid biomass sourcing and conversion decision-making. The database covers origin, logistics, technical suitability (in this case for a proprietary organosolv pre-treatment process) and policy and other risk attributes of the system. The development of key criteria required by the business community to develop biomass supply chains for specific requirements is discussed.
Ragauskas A, Williams C, Davison B, Britovsek G, Cairney J, Eckert C, Frederick W, Hallett J, Leak D, Liotta C, Mielenz J, Murphy RJ, Templer R, Tschaplinski T (2006) The Path Forward for Biofuels and Biomaterials, Science 311 pp. 484-489
Biomass represents an abundant carbon-neutral renewable resource for the production of bioenergy and biomaterials, and its enhanced use would address several societal needs. Advances in genetics, biotechnology, process chemistry, and engineering are leading to a new manufacturing concept for converting renewable biomass to valuable fuels and products, generally referred to as the biorefinery. The integration of agroenergy crops and biorefinery manufacturing technologies offers the potential for the development of sustainable biopower and biomaterials that will lead to a new manufacturing paradigm.
Energy consumption behaviours are gradually becoming better-understood. However, there is still a deficit in terms of knowledge of individuals? energy-use behaviours in organisations, despite a variety of available theories. This paper addresses this need in three main stages, based on a survey among mid-level managers at a major infrastructure operator in Great Britain. Firstly, a principal components analysis is performed to identify key determinant constructs driving energy-efficient behaviours in organisations, revealing the importance of perceived benefit to the organisation and flexibility of existing performance goals and targets. Secondly, cluster analysis is undertaken, in an effort to identify differences in behavioural influences between demographic groups. These clusters highlight the heterogeneity of employee populations? energy behaviours, demonstrating that assumptions cannot be made about these based on single responses to cross-industry surveys. Finally, a structural equation model of individuals? energy use intentions and behaviours using the newly-identified constructs is developed, revealing some similarities with existing behavioural frameworks such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991). Implications for policymakers are then discussed, in terms of encouraging individual employees? curtailment of energy consumption in organisations through tailored engagement programmes.
Clift R, Sim S, King H, Chenoweth JL, Christie IP, Clavreul J, Mueller C, Posthuma L, Boulay A, Chaplin-Kramer R, Chatterton J, DeClerck F, Druckman A, France CM, Franco A, Gerten D, Goedkoop M, Hauschild M, Huijbregts M, Koellner T, Lambin E, Lee J, Mair SJ, Marshall S, McLachlan M, Milà i Canals L, Mitchell C, Price E, Rockström J, Suckling JR, Murphy RJ (2017) The Challenges of Applying Planetary Boundaries as a Basis for Strategic Decision-Making in Companies with Global Supply Chains, Sustainability 9 (2)
The Planetary Boundaries (PB) framework represents a significant advance in specifying the ecological constraints on human development. However, to enable decision-makers in business and public policy to respect these constraints in strategic planning, the PB framework needs to be developed to generate practical tools. With this objective in mind, we analyse the recent literature and highlight three major scientific and technical challenges in operationalizing the PB approach in decision-making: first, identification of thresholds or boundaries with associated metrics for different geographical scales; second, the need to frame approaches to allocate fair shares in the ?safe operating space? bounded by the PBs across the value chain and; third, the need for international bodies to co-ordinate the implementation of the measures needed to respect the Planetary Boundaries. For the first two of these challenges, we consider how they might be addressed for four PBs: climate change, freshwater use, biosphere integrity and chemical pollution and other novel entities. Four key opportunities are identified: (1) development of a common system of metrics that can be applied consistently at and across different scales; (2) setting ?distance from boundary? measures that can be applied at different scales; (3) development of global, preferably open-source, databases and models; and (4) advancing understanding of the interactions between the different PBs. Addressing the scientific and technical challenges in operationalizing the planetary boundaries needs be complemented with progress in addressing the equity and ethical issues in allocating the safe operating space between companies and sectors.
Railways in the UK account for 1% of all electricity consumed nationally, and Network Rail consumed in excess of 400GWh in 2013/14. Large organisations need to reduce their energy consumption in order to prevent adverse climatic effects driven by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This doctoral thesis investigates attitudes and behaviours of individual Network Rail employees, relating to the adoption of energy-efficient practices and technologies, and their likely impacts on the organisation?s energy consumption.
The research programme consists of two principal stages. Firstly, an exploratory approach is taken with managers of railway energy infrastructure to establish factors which may be influencing these behaviours, based on a commonly-used research framework for semi-structured interviews.
Secondly, a staff survey is developed based on findings from the exploratory interviews. This is designed to test commonly-used behavioural frameworks from the sociological and psychological literature on pro-environmental behaviours in a variety of contexts, including the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991), and Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour (Triandis, 1977). This survey also tests the salience of a set of barriers to energy efficiency in organisations proposed by Sorrell et al (2000; 2004).
However, analysis of collected survey data suggests that no single theory provided a strong fit with observed results. Principal components analysis and structural equation modelling suggest an array of 6 alternative factors governing energy-efficient behaviours, management practices, and technology adoption, and an alternative causal model is proposed, based on these new factors. Cluster analysis then categorises groups of employees based on their personal approaches to energy consumption. Although a combination of technological- and behavioural interventions are required to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2014b), the findings presented here highlight how understanding the attitudinal and behavioural context in which energy consumption behaviours take place can help large organisations such as Network Rail lower their electricity consumption.
Government and industry increasingly face challenges resulting from resource scarcity and climate change. By reducing carbon emissions whilst promoting resource efficiency and business development, industrial symbiosis has been recognised as a strategy to manage these challenges. Industrial symbiosis can be interpreted as the innovative use of waste from one company as a resource for another company, i.e. waste-to-resource innovation. These resource innovations involve the development of relations between waste producers and users, and often governmental organisations and other actors. A review of industrial symbiosis and relevant network and innovation literature concluded that empirical understanding of the implementation of industrial symbiosis, and consequently how it can be promoted by public and private organisations, needed considerable improvement. Hence, a qualitative empirical exploration was conducted to answer the question: How and why did industrial symbiosis develop over time? The exploration was carried out in the Humber region (UK) and, with several bio-based developments emerging in the area, focused on biowaste-to-resource innovation. Case studies with companies revealed: the social process through which resource partnerships developed; important contextual conditions (resource security, economic benefits, and governance); and varying network diversification and strengthening strategies. Analysing these innovations in their longer-term dynamic contexts revealed different business-responses to context-changes through their varying innovation and government-engagement strategies. Some companies were constrained by poor harmonisation of economic and various governmental drivers. In particular, since 2012, regional governance capacity for biowaste-to-resource innovation decreased while such innovations gained momentum at national government level. These findings have added to understanding of variation in factors and processes associated with implementing industrial symbiosis through company activities, strategies, and collaborations; and the relations between context dynamics, evolution of industrial symbiosis networks, and on-going business development. The level of detail revealed in this inductive empirical research contributed to identifying numerous further research directions. Moreover, practical recommendations were provided to companies and governmental organisations supporting the promotion of industrial symbiosis and contributing to the on-going transition to a more resource efficient and circular economy.
Patel Martin K., Bechu Aude, Villegas Juan David, Bergez-Lacoste Manon, Yeung Kenny, Murphy Richard, Woods Jeremy, Mwabonje Onesmus N., Ni Yuanzhi, Patel Akshay D., Gallagher Joe, Bryant David (2018) Second-generation bio-based plastics are becoming a reality - Non-renewable energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of succinic acid-based plastic end products made from lignocellulosic biomass, Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 12 (3) pp. 426-441
Bio-based and bio-degradable plastics such as polybutylene succinate (PBS) have the potential to become sustainable alternatives to petrochemical-based plastics. Polybutylene succinate can be produced from bio-based succinic acid and 1,4-butanediol using first-generation (1G) or second-generation (2G) sugars. A cradle-to-grave environmental assessment was performed for PBS products in Europe to investigate the non-renewable energy use (NREU) and greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts. The products investigated are single-use trays and agricultural film, with incineration, industrial composting and degradation on agricultural land as end-of-life scenarios. Both end products manufactured from fully bio-based PBS and from partly bio-based PBS (made from bio-based succinic acid and fossil fuel-based 1,4 butanediol) were analysed. We examine corn (1G) as well as corn stover, wheat straw, miscanthus and hardwood as 2G feedstocks. For the cradle-to-grave system, 1G fully bio-based PBS plastic products were found to have environmental impacts comparable with their petrochemical incumbents, while 2G fully bio-based PBS plastic products allow to reduce NREU and GHG by around one third under the condition of avoidance of concentration of sugars and energy integration of the pretreatment process with monomer production. Without energy integration and with concentration of sugars (i.e., separate production), the impacts of 2G fully bio-based PBS products are approximately 15?20% lower than those of 1G fully bio-based PBS products. The environmental analysis of PBS products supports the value proposition related to PBS products while also pointing out areas requiring further research and development.
In 2015, member countries of the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Sustainable
Development Summit in New York. These global goals have 169 targets and 232 indicators which are based on the three
pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Substantial challenges remain in obtaining data of
the required quality, especially in developing countries, given the limited resources involved. One promising and innovative
way of addressing this issue of data availability is to use Earth Observation (EO). This paper presents the results of research
to analyse and optimise the potential of EO approaches to populate the SDG indicators and targets. We present a matrix of
EO technologies with respect to the full set of current SDG indicators which shows the potential for direct or proxy
calibrations across the span of the social, economic and environmental SDG indicators. We have focussed particularly on
those SDG indicators covering the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development as these are relatively
unexplored from an EO context. Results suggest that EO can make an important contribution towards populating the SDG
indicators, but there is a spectrum from at one end the sole use of EO to the other end where the EO derived data have to be
used in concert with data collected via non-EO means (surveys etc.). Complicating factors also include the lack of driving
force and pressure indicators in the SDG framework and the use of ?proxy? indicators not part of the SDG framework but
more amenable to EO-derived assessment. The next phase of the research will involve the presenting of these ideas to
experts in the EO and indicator arenas for their assessment.
Generating electricity from biomass are undeniably gives huge advantages to the
energy security, environmental protection and the social development. Nevertheless, it always
been negatively claimed as not economically competitive as compared to the conventional
electricity generation system using fossil fuel. Due to the unfair subsidies given to renewable
energy based fuel and the maturity of conventional electricity generation system, the
commercialization of this system is rather discouraging. The uniqueness of the chemical and
physical properties of the biomass and the functionality of the system are fully depending on
the availability of the biomass resources, the capital expenditure of the system is relatively
expensive. To remain competitive, biomass based system must be developed in their most
economical form. Therefore the justification of the economies of scale of such system is
become essential. This study will provide a comprehensive review of process to select an
appropriate size for electricity generation plant from palm oil mill (POM) residues through the
combustion of an empty fruit bunch (EFB) and biogas from the anaerobic digestion of palm oil
mill effluent (POME) in Peninsular Malaysia using a mathematical model and simulation using
ASPEN Plus software package. The system operated at 4 MW capacity is expected to provide
a return on investment (ROI) of 20% with a payback period of 6.5 years. It is notably agreed
that the correct selection of generation plant size will have a significant impact on overall
economic and environmental feasibility of the system.
In 2015, member countries of the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York. These global goals have 169 targets and 232 indicators which are based on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Substantial challenges remain in obtaining data of the required quality, especially in developing countries, given the often limited resources available. One promising and innovative way of addressing this issue of data availability is to use Earth Observation (EO). This paper presents the results of research to develop a novel analytical framework for assessing the potential of EO approaches to populate the SDG indicators. We present a Maturity Matrix Framework (MMF) and apply it to all of the 232 SDG indicators. The results demonstrate that while the applicability of EO-derived data does vary between the SDG indicators, overall, EO has an important contribution to make towards populating a wide diversity of the SDG indicators.
The effects of urban living on health are becoming increasingly important, due to an increasing global population residing in urban areas. Concomitantly, due to immigration, there is a growing number of ethnic minority individuals (African, Asian or Middle Eastern descent) living in westernised Higher Latitude Countries (HLC) (e.g. Europe, Canada, New Zealand). Of concern is the fact that there is already a clear vitamin D deficiency epidemic in HLC, a problem which is likely to grow as the ethnic minority population in these countries increases. This is because 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) status of ethnic groups is significantly lower compared to native populations.
Environmental factors contribute to a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in HLC, particularly during the winter months when there is no sunlight of appropriate wavelength for vitamin D synthesis via the skin. Also, climatic factors such as cloud cover may reduce vitamin D status even in the summer. This may be further worsened by factors related to urban living, including air pollution, which reduces UVB exposure to the skin, and less occupational sun exposure (may vary by individual HLC). Tall building height may reduce sun exposure by making areas more shaded. In addition, there are ethnicity-specific factors which further worsen vitamin D status in HLC urban dwellers, such as low dietary intake of vitamin D from foods, lower production of vitamin D in the skin due to increased melanin and reduced skin exposure to UVB due to cultural dress style and sun avoidance.
A multidisciplinary approach applying knowledge from engineering, skin photobiology, nutrition, town planning and social science is required to prevent vitamin D deficiency in urban areas. Such an approach could include reduction of air pollution, modification of sun exposure advice to emphasise spending time each day in non-shaded urban areas (e.g. parks, away from tall buildings), and advice to ethnic minority groups to increase sun exposure, take vitamin D supplements and/or increase consumption of vitamin D rich foods in a way that is safe and culturally acceptable. This review hopes to stimulate further research to assess the impact of high latitude, urban environment and ethnicity on the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
There is a wide diversity of approaches towards the inclusion and use of corporate sustainability concepts and practices across sectors and countries. This thesis explores and analyses corporate approaches towards sustainability in the Thai natural rubber industry, arguably different to approaches in developed countries. Specifically, the thesis identifies sustainability challenges in the Thai natural rubber processing industry; examines sustainability strategies employed by rubber processing firms; and analyses corporate sustainability activities in the industry. Empirical data was collected from multiple sources including in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, a regional questionnaire survey and case study analyses to allow a deeper investigation of practices and strategies at sectoral and firm levels of industry. The analysis makes three key findings and contributions.
First, the research suggests that sustainability is a substantial challenge for the industry due to the complexity of sustainability related factors and their linkages. It was found that the economic climate, a lack of technology development, environmental problems, and impacts on local community are the major concerns. These findings extend the limited evidence base on sustainability challenges for the industry, in particular stakeholders? point of view.
Second, the research indicates that there are four distinct strategic approaches among the Thai natural rubber processing firms responding to sustainability challenges and provides an outline of the key features of these sustainability strategies. These strategies are important to validate and compare existing typologies of sustainability strategy in the corporate sustainability literature. They also contribute to a better understanding of corporate strategic decisions towards sustainability in Thailand and probably beyond.
Finally, the analysis suggests that the main motives to pursue corporate sustainability activities are not shaped by economic but institutional and normative factors. The most adopted activity patterns can be classified into environmental management, community involvement and employee engagement. This confirms the influence of local community and relative importance of local issues. It also sheds light on the role of business in the community and the social purpose of the companies.
The potential for generating renewable electricity from palm oil mill residues (POMR) has received policy support from the Malaysian Government for almost two decades. However, uptake of the technology is still relatively low. A significant issue dominating the discussion for many years is how to translate the renewable electricity generation potential from POMR into actual implementation. The research seeks to understand the opportunities and barriers for the use of POMR for a Renewable Electricity System (POMR-RES) in Peninsular Malaysia by assessing the technical, techno-economic and environmental feasibility of generating renewable electricity from palm oil mill residues focusing mainly on empty fruit bunches (EFB) and biogas.
A combination of mathematical analysis and simulation using Aspen PlusTM software was employed to assess the technical feasibility of the system. Techno-economic analysis was combined with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to integrate the environmental impact perspective into the POMR-RES evaluation. The results show that EFB has better technical and techno-economic performance than the biogas. Furthermore, the on-site POMR-RES with an installed capacity of 5.70 MW or greater is technically feasible, economically viable and environmentally favourable. The electricity generated from a POMR-RES of this scale is sufficient to meet a mill?s operational electricity demand, the parasitic load of the POMR-RES and provide surplus electricity to the national grid. An economically feasible size POMR-RES are expected to provide:
1. a 20% return on investment (ROI) with five to seven-year payback period (PP).
2. a positive net present value (NPV) with break-even point (BEP) of five to seven-year.
The electricity generated in POMR-RES emits 95% less GHG emissions compared with current Malaysian electricity grid average when the emission from LUC is excluded from the electricity generation process. Thirty-five mills in Peninsular Malaysia were identified as having sufficient EFB supply to operate at or above this economically feasible size with the total accumulated generation capacity of 200 MW. This accumulated capacity would account for 25% of the 2020 target for palm oil biomass under National Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan.
This research provides a positive case for generating local, renewable electricity from EFB that can be used as evidence and practical recommendations for various actors such as prospective investors, analysts, stakeholders, mill owners and policymakers and government agencies such as the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA) for efficient and sustainable utilization of POMR. This study also makes a positive contribution towards achieving the national renewable energy target for additional renewable power supplies and as a contribution towards improved global sustainability.
This research focusses on transitions between the 1st and 2nd generation of Thai family-run businesses (FRBs) and how CSR is involved. It investigates the differences between CSR of the two generations as well as how their actions affect employee attitudes and the perceptions of CSR by the employees. FRBs, especially small- and medium-sized ones, appear to incorporate approaches to CSR that are different from those in larger corporations and MNCs: this research focused on CSR approaches relevant to Thai FRBs. Through interviews with FRB owners in Thailand, it was found that founders and successors have similar target audiences for their delivery of CSR. However, they have different means to do so: FRBs are most concerned about their employees when directing CSR efforts while the surrounding society is the next in concern. The main differences in CSR among the generations is that founders are more concerned with financial wellbeing and family reputation while successors are more driven towards employee development and company reputation. Thus, their CSR practices and expectations differ. Furthermore, this research also studies the CSR attitudes and CSR perceptions of employees. It was found through cluster analysis that different hierarchies, business sectors and owner generation are likely to cultivate certain attitudes and CSR perceptions from their employees. After obtaining these findings, FRB owners helped to validate the reliability of the results and improves the possibility that these findings can be used in practical scenarios.
The Water-Energy Nexus (WEN) is broadly defined as an integrated paradigm for efficiently managing water and energy resources. While several studies have investigated WEN from a resource efficiency perspective, little research has focused on governance and policy
integration aspects. In this study, the level of understanding of WEN in Jordan is examined for the first time from the perspective of governance and public policy development. We explored institutional and policy integration gaps between the two sectors by mapping the
water and energy policies in Jordan, and holding semi-structured interviews with the key policymakers and stakeholders. While the awareness of the nexus paradigm by officials is increasing, the level of knowledge about WEN varies across the sectors. As water and
energy policies are formulated independently, there are no formal mechanisms for collaboration in the policy formulation and implementation processes, nor formal mechanisms for collaboration to guarantee policy effectiveness. Factors such as acknowledging shared understandings between different actors, setting flexible policy boundaries, and introducing specific capacity building plans at the institutional level are identified as critical to enable better WEN governance. Proposals from this study recommend adopting collaboration arrangements tailored to each sector?s needs and existing structures, and supported by effective enforcements to ensure an incremental and steady change toward inter-institutional coordination. A ?multi-layer approach? involving appropriate legal and policy frameworks, and adequate human and financial resources; essentially from private sector is suggested. Proposals from this study can help
policymakers to effectively plan for joint water-energy investments for a more sustainable future.
An isolation method with mild mechanical agitation and no acidic extraction step from a mushroom substrate resulted in chitin nanofibers (ChNFs) with large shares of retained glucans (50?65%). The subsequent chitin nanopapers exhibited exceptionally high tensile strengths of >200 MPa and moduli of ca. 7 GPa, which were largely attributed to the preserved glucans in the mixture, imparting a composite nature to the nanopapers. The isolation method for ChNFs is notably different from the conventional process with crustacean chitin sources that do not incorporate glucans and where an acidic extraction step for the removal of minerals must always be included
In 2015, member countries of the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York. These global goals have 169 targets and 232 indicators based on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. However, substantial challenges remain in obtaining data of the required quality and quantity to populate these indicators efficiently. One promising and innovative way of addressing this issue is to use Earth observation (EO). The research reported here updates our original work to develop a Maturity Matrix Framework (MMF) for assessing the suitability of EO-derived data for populating the SDG indicators, with a special focus on those indicators covering the more social and economic dimensions of sustainable development, as these have been under-explored in terms of the contribution that can be made by EO. The advanced MMF 2.0 framework set out in this paper is based on a wide consultation with EO and indicator experts (semi-structured interviews with 38 respondents). This paper provides detail of the evolved structure of MMF 2.0 and illustrates its use for one of the SDG indicators (Indicator 11.1.1). The revised MMF is then applied to published work covering the full suite of SDG indicators and demonstrates that EO can make an important contribution to providing data relevant to a substantial number of the SDG indicators.
A light microscopy study on the cell walls decay of biodegraded coir waste by a
group of micro-fungi (Chaetomium globosum, Humicola grisea, Trichoderma
reesii, Penicillium citrinum and Aspergillus niger) was conducted. This study
gave conclusive evidence of hyphal penetration, colonisation, cell wall decay and
destruction by the soft rot fungi (C. globosum and H. grisea). The hyphae of
these soft rot fungi penetrated through pits into adjacent cells and severely
degraded the cell walls by formation of cavities. However, the moulds (T. reesii,
P. citrinum and A. niger) only penetrated the cell walls and did not cause any
severe cell walls destruction.
It has long been recognised that plastic objects released
into the environment have harmful impacts on wildlife.
Public realisation that plastic pollution is a major global
environmental problem is more recent and has been
sudden, sparked by publication of an analysis of the
flows of polluting plastics into the environment and
the accumulated stocks of polluting waste, particularly
in the oceans.1 This contribution aims first to provide
an introduction to the history and uses of plastics in
the economy and, secondly, to set out the routes by which
plastics leak from the economy into the environment
in order to inform development of possible strategies
to alleviate the problem of plastic pollution.
Greener alternatives to synthetic polymers are constantly being investigated and sought after. Chitin is a natural polysaccharide that gives structural support to crustacean shells, insect exoskeletons, and fungal cell walls. Like cellulose, chitin resides in nanosized structural elements that can be isolated as nanofibers and nanocrystals by various top-down approaches, targeted at disintegrating the native construct. Chitin has, however, been largely overshadowed by cellulose when discussing the materials aspects of the nanosized components. This Perspective presents a thorough overview of chitin-related materials research with an analytical focus on nanocomposites and nanopapers. The red line running through the text emphasizes the use of fungal chitin that represents several advantages over the more popular crustacean sources, particularly in terms of nanofiber isolation from the native matrix. In addition, many ²-glucans are preserved in chitin upon its isolation from the fungal matrix, enabling new horizons for various engineering solutions.
Cocopeat or coir dust is a by-product separated during processing of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) coir. As a by-product of coir manufacturing, cocopeat is often unutilized or burnt in the open. Of late, due to environmental concerns and also diminishing supplies of peat soils for horticultural substrates, cocopeat is being considered as a renewable peat substitute for use in horticulture. However, in its raw form, cocopeat has been reported to contain phytotoxic elements which inhibit plant growth. As such, cocopeat is often recommended for use only with a mixture of other organic or inert materials. The present study was conducted to determine the effect of biodegradation (composting) on improving the qualities of cocopeat as a horticultural substrate. Cocopeat was supplemented with 0.75% N and inoculated with selected mould and wood rotting micro-fungi viz. Aspergillus niger van Tieghem, Penicillium citrinum Thom, Trichoderma sp., Humicola sp. and Chaetomium globosum Kunze. The medium was maintained at about 80% moisture content (wet weight basis) and incubated at 27°C for 3 months. The results showed that the 3-month biodegraded cocopeat has lower C/N ratio, higher CEC and humic acid than the raw cocopeat. The lowering of C/N ratio was due to addition of N and the reduction of carbon, mainly the hemicellulose, cellulose and to a lesser extent the lignin components. In the greenhouse trial, tomato plants grew well in the 3-month 'composted' cocopeat. Though their plant heights and stem diameters were not significantly different from those grown in the untreated cocopeat, the plants on 'composted' cocopeat produced higher dry root weights (22%), fruit numbers (43%) and total yield (64%).