Professor Richard Murphy FIMMM, FRSA
Academic and research departmentsCentre for Environment and Sustainability.
Richard Murphy joined the Centre for Environment and Sustainability as Professor of Life Cycle Assessment in February 2013.
He has a background in biological sciences with a BSc in Botany with Zoology from King's College London and a PhD in Pure & Applied Biology from Imperial College London. Richard has undertaken Post-Doctoral work in New Zealand and The Netherlands and, prior to joining CES, was a Reader in Plant Sciences at Imperial College London.
Richard is a past President of the Institute of Wood Science (now part of the Institute of Materials) and is a member of DEFRA's Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee, BRE's Advisory Panel and BSI committees. He is a founder and Director of LCAworks Ltd and was Chief Scientific Officer of Mycologix Ltd. He has advised the UK Climate Change Committee on LCA for bioenergy systems.
Richard received a Rector's Award for Excellence in Teaching at Imperial College London in 2011.
21 MAY 2019
Stressbusting Surrey garden collaboration wins coveted silver-gilt medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show
12 MAR 2019
University of Surrey celebrates the power of plants as anti-stress garden comes to RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Richard's research focuses on two main areas:
- Use of plant-based materials for bioenergy and biomaterials (including construction and packaging uses)
- Use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) since 1992 to incorporate environmental and sustainability analysis in our scientific research on bio-materials, bioenergy and biofuel products.
In the first area, his group's research is concerned with the pretreatment and enzymatic conversion of plant material (particularly lignocellulosics) into biofuels, the microbial decomposition of bio-based materials (e.g. bio-packaging, timber) by aerobic composting and by anaerobic digestion (AD) systems, the structure and organisation of plant cell wall materials (wood, bamboo, coir, hemp), the physiology/ecology of wood decay fungi and wood protection using biocides and other means. Specific IP related to biofuels production was commercialised through a spin-out company Mycologix Ltd.
In the second area, academically-focussed LCA and related sustainability assessments such as Techno-Economic Assessment and Social LCA, increasingly integrated through Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) approaches, are a significant aspect of the group's research. These are conducted jointly with colleagues in CES and the Porter Alliance and Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College amongst others. Richard also contributes to commercially-facing LCA and related work through LCAworks Ltd.
Overall, Richard has undertaken LCA work for the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), the Building Research Establishment (BRE) UK and for various international companies, including BT, Coca Cola and Braskem. Richard has acted as an independent Chairperson and as a member of LCA Critical Review Panels to ISO 14040/44 for a variety of studies.
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.
An approach is presented to include a wider range of factors involved in the nitrogen and carbon cycles in agro-ecosystems than is typical of many Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of agriculture-based products. This use results from the process-oriented Denitrification-Decomposition (DNDC, modified version) model. Here we evaluate the effects of using site-specific N(2)O emissions derived from the DNDC model rather than the values derived from the commonly used Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Tier 1 empirical model on the results of whole life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) profiles for wheat-based biopolymer products. Statistical methods were also used to analyze the quality of the DNDC and IPCC outputs and to characterize the uncertainty in the GHG results. The results confirm that the GHG profiles of the wheat-derived biopolymer products are sensitive to how the agricultural system is modeled and uncertainty analyses indicate that DNDC is preferred over the IPCC Tier 1 approach for site-specific LCAs. The former allows inclusion of a wider range of important site-specific agricultural parameters in the LCA, provides for improved quality in the LCA data, and permits better calibration of uncertainty in the LCA inventory.
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.
The Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) provides expert advice to UK officials, Ministers and other relevant bodies on the protection of the environment, and human health via the environment, from potentially hazardous substances and articles. Hazardous substances are often the subject of controversy, on which individuals, and different groups in society, hold divergent views. This paper details the approach taken by HSAC when considering the evidence to provide advice on hazardous substances. Firstly HSAC reviews the range of evidence and determines its quality considering: transparency of aims, the methodology and results, completeness, independent review and accessibility. HSAC does not follow one explicit methodology as the wide range of hazardous substances we consider means they need to be addressed on a case by case basis. Most notably HSAC considers the evidence in the wider context, being aware of factors that influence individuals in their decision making when receiving a HSAC opinion e.g. trust in the source of the evidence, defensibility, conformity to a ‘world view’ and framing. HSACs also reflect on its own perspectives with the aim of addressing bias by the diversity of its membership. The Committee's intention, in adopting this rounded approach, is to reach opinions that are robust, relevant and defensible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Several factors which influence the treatment of timber products with vapour phase preservatives such as borate esters are considered. Gas flow rate through the substrate was found to be a significant factor limiting both preservative penetration and its rate of deposition. A theoretical model of the treatment process was developed and tested experimentally to determine the influence of several factors on the retention and distribution of boric acid. Gas flow into the timber product was influenced by permeability, pressure gradient and substrate moisture content. The implications of the findings are considered with regard to the treatment of wood and wood products with gaseous reagents. © 1995 Springer-Verlag.
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.
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.
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.
The potential to obtain bioethanol from bamboo using three different pretreatment technologies (liquid hot water (LHW), dilute acid (DA) and soaking in aqueous ammonia (SAA)) is assessed via techno-economic and environmental analyses. The minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) is used to compare the economic potential of the pretreatment processes, and these are 0.554, 0.484 and 1.014 $ per litre for DA, LHW and SAA pretreatments, respectively. The bioethanol pump price under current and future policy scenarios in China is compared with petrol and reveals that bioethanol produced via DA and LHW pretreatments could be economically competitive even without government support. From an environmental perspective, a life cycle assessment approach is used to evaluate bamboo-derived bioethanol for full environmental impact categories, and this is compared with petrol on a ’well-to-wheel’ basis. It was found that all three bioethanol pathways would be environmentally better than petrol with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced by 45-93%. A comparison of bamboo-based bioethanol with other cellulosic feedstocks not only suggests that bamboo could be a viable and competitive feedstock for bioethanol production, but also demonstrates that amongst the pretreatment technologies tested, LHW has the most potential for achieving favourable economic and environmental outcomes.
Minimizing nitrogen (N) fertilization inputs during cultivation is essential for sustainable production of bioenergy and biofuels. The biomass crop willow (Salix spp.) is considered to have low N fertilizer requirements due to efficient recycling of nutrients during the perennial cycle. To investigate how successfully different willow genotypes assimilate and allocate N during growth, and remobilize and consequently recycle N before the onset of winter dormancy, N allocation and N remobilization (to and between different organs) were examined in 14 genotypes of a genetic family using elemental analysis and 15N as a label. Cuttings were established in pots in April and sampled in June, August and at onset of senescence in October. Biomass yield of the trees correlated well with yields recorded in the field. Genotype-specific variation was observed for all traits measured and general trends spanning these sampling points were identified when trees were grouped by biomass yield. Nitrogen reserves in the cutting fuelled the entirety of the canopy establishment, yet earlier cessation of this dependency was linked to higher biomass yields. The stem was found to be the major N reserve by autumn, which constitutes a major source of N loss at harvest, typically every 2–3 years. These data contribute to understanding N remobilization in short rotation coppice willow and to the identification of traits that could potentially be selected for in breeding programmes to further improve the sustainability of biomass production.
Brazil has some of the world’s most important forest and natural ecosystem resources and their sustainability is of global importance. The expansion of agriculture for livestock, the extractive industries, illegal logging, land conflicts, fire and deforestation are pressures on land use and drivers of land use change in many regions of Brazil. While different institutions in Brazil have sought to use Earth Observation (EO) data to support better land use management and conservation projects, several problems remain at the national and state level in the implementation of EO to support environmental policies and services provided to Brazilian society. This paper presents the results of a systematic analysis of the key challenges in using EO data in land management in Brazil and summarises them in a conceptual model of the factors influencing EO data use for assessing sustainable land use and land cover in Brazil. The research was based on a series of in‐depth, semistructured interviews (43) and structured interviews (53) with key stakeholders who make use of EO data across different locations in Brazil. The major challenges identified in the complex and multifaceted aspects of using this information were associated with access to, and with the processing of, raw data into usable information. The analysis also revealed novel insights on a lack of inter‐institutional communication, adequate office infrastructure and personnel, availability of the right type of EO data and funding restrictions, political instability and bureaucracy as factors that limit more effective use of EO data in Brazil at present. We close this analysis by considering how EO information for the sustainable management of land use and land cover can assist institutions as they respond to the varied political and economic instabilities affecting environmental governance and deforestation levels.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The anatomy of bamboo culms and the multilayered structure of fibre cell walls are known to be the main determinant factors for its physical and mechanical properties. Studies on the bamboo cell wall have focussed mainly on fully elongated and mature fibres. The main aim of this study was to describe the ultrastructure of primary and secondary cell walls in culm tissues of Dendrocalamus asper at different stages of development. METHODS: The development of fibre and parenchyma tissues was classified into four stages based on light microscopy observations made in tissues from juvenile plants. The stages were used as a basis for transmission electron microscopy study on the ultrastructure of the cell wall during the process of primary and early secondary cell wall formation. Macerations and phloroglucinol-HCl staining were employed to investigate fibre cell elongation and fibre cell wall lignification, respectively. KEY RESULTS: The observations indicated that the primary wall is formed by the deposition of two distinct layers during the elongation of the internode and that secondary wall synthesis may begin before the complete cessation of internode and fibre elongation. Elongation was followed by a maturation phase characterized by the deposition of multiple secondary wall layers, which varied in number according to the cell type, location in the culm tissue and stage of shoot development. Lignification of fibre cell walls started at the period prior to the cessation of internode elongation. CONCLUSIONS: The structure of the primary cell wall was comprised of two layers. The fibre secondary cell wall began to be laid down while the cells were still undergoing some elongation, suggesting that it may act to cause the slow-down and eventual cessation of cell elongation.
Abstract Background: Variation in the reaction wood (RW) response has been shown to be a principle component driving differences in lignocellulosic sugar yield from the bioenergy crop willow. The phenotypic cause(s) behind these differences in sugar yield, beyond their common elicitor, however, remain unclear. Here we use X-ray micro-computed tomography (μCT) to investigate RW-associated alterations in secondary xylem tissue patterning in three dimensions (3D). Results: Major architectural alterations were successfully quantified in 3D and attributed to RW induction. Whilst the frequency of vessels was reduced in tension wood tissue (TW), the total vessel volume was significantly increased. Interestingly, a delay in programmed-cell-death (PCD) associated with TW was also clearly observed and readily quantified by μCT. Conclusions: The surprising degree to which the volume of vessels was increased illustrates the substantial xylem tissue remodelling involved in reaction wood formation. The remodelling suggests an important physiological compromise between structural and hydraulic architecture necessary for extensive alteration of biomass and helps to demonstrate the power of improving our perspective of cell and tissue architecture. The precise observation of xylem tissue development and quantification
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 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.
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.
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.
There is a growing demand for an integrated assessment to identify and select asset management options based on sustainability in the wastewater industry. However, water companies are often not equipped with a rigorous methodology and sufficient resources to perform sustainability assessments. Although many frameworks and tools for sustainability assessment have been developed in academia, practical challenges such as feasibility and usability remain when implementing sustainability assessment methods to support corporate decision-making. This study developed a Multi-Criteria Analysis based framework to evaluate wastewater treatment processes from a sustainability perspective. This study firstly explored the decision and organizational context of a water company with preliminary interviews and then applied the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) with composite scores to evaluate wastewater technologies at a sewage treatment works. The preliminary interviews with stakeholders highlighted that the existing investment decisions were primarily driven by financial cost and compliance whilst calling for a wider consideration of other criteria. A selection of assessment criteria and indicators were then proposed to compare seven treatment technologies at a sewage treatment works. The results of composite scores indicated that the baseline activated sludge process (ASP) was the best option for this study. Experience from the development process highlighted usability, stakeholder engagement and the organizational context should all be considered as part of the design and implementation of the sustainability assessment. The insights from this study provide a valuable practical foundation for applying a multi-criteria approach to perform sustainability assessments and inform asset management decisions in the water company.
Chemicals policies have spawned a wide range of regulations aimed at limiting damage to the environment and human health. Most instruments are reactive and fragmented. We propose a simple underpinning philosophy, “Do no harm”, to ensure a more sustainable, safe “chemical environment” for the future.
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.
Biodiesel is a renewable vehicle fuel based on biomass. Although environmental benefits can be assumed, both positive and negative impacts have been stated in the past, raising some doubts on the effective environmental performance of biofuels. They therefore need to be carefully examined through the established methods of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Such studies, though, have been known to give conflicting results and, for non-specialist users of environmental performance information, such variations in literature between studies will be a cause of concern.
This paper presents the results of research designed to explore the challenges involved in the use of Earth Observation (EO) data to support environmental management Brazil. While much has been written about the technology and applications of EO, the perspective of end-users of EO data and their needs has been under-explored in the literature. A total of 53 key informants in Brasilia and the cities of Rio Branco and Cuiaba were interviewed regarding their current use and experience of EO data and the expressed challenges that they face. The research builds upon a conceptual model which illustrates the main steps and limitations in the flow of EO data and information for use in the management of land use and land cover (LULC) in Brazil. The current paper analyzes and ranks, by relative importance, the factors that users identify as limiting their use of EO. The most important limiting factor for the end-user was the lack of personnel, followed by political and economic context, data management, innovation, infrastructure and IT, technical capacity to use and process EO data, bureaucracy, limitations associated with access to high-resolution data, and access to ready-to-use product. In general, users expect to access a ready-to-use product, transformed from the raw EO data into usable information. Related to this is the question of whether this processing is best done within an organization or sourced from outside. Our results suggest that, despite the potential of EO data for informing environmental management in Brazil, its use remains constrained by its lack of suitably trained personnel and financial resources, as well as the poor communication between institutions.
The South East of England has an abundance of woodland, which offers a potential sustainable timber and fuel resource in parallel with being a much-loved part of rural life and rich ecological wildlife habitat. An ever-increasing quantity of mature broadleaved trees is available for harvest forms, with appropriate management and a sustainable yield potential, set against the backdrop of only 10% of UK timber demand currently supplied from UK-grown resource. There has been little systematic research into the factors that limit the sector and initiatives to address the challenge have not had a significant impact on the amount of woodland under management. Through semi-structured interviews across the wood supply chain, this research provides an integrated analysis of the factors limiting woodland management in the South East of England. The findings indicate the sector is complex, multifaceted, slow to respond to change and driven by a strong set of human, economic, environmental, and structural motivations away from use of local wood product. A novel insight from the research was that although there was a positive affinity for forestry and a strong culture of woodland management across the spectrum of stakeholders, there was little evidence of effective collaboration or sector integration. These factors have been summarised in a ‘rich picture’ providing a visual and intuitive way of engaging with stakeholders. This research fills a significant gap in understanding the dynamics of forestry in the South East of England and provides new underpinning evidence for policy makers to design interventions aimed at delivering better sustainable utilisation of woodland resources in parallel with offering support to rural communities and economies.
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.
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%).
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.
Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil resources. Both direct energy use for crop management and indirect energy use for fertilizers, pesticides and machinery production have contributed to the major increases in food production seen since the 1960s. However, the relationship between energy inputs and yields is not linear. Low-energy inputs can lead to lower yields and perversely to higher energy demands per tonne of harvested product. At the other extreme, increasing energy inputs can lead to ever-smaller yield gains. Although fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy for agriculture, the mix of fuels used differs owing to the different fertilization and cultivation requirements of individual crops. Nitrogen fertilizer production uses large amounts of natural gas and some coal, and can account for more than 50 per cent of total energy use in commercial agriculture. Oil accounts for between 30 and 75 per cent of energy inputs of UK agriculture, depending on the cropping system. While agriculture remains dependent on fossil sources of energy, food prices will couple to fossil energy prices and food production will remain a significant contributor to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Technological developments, changes in crop management, and renewable energy will all play important roles in increasing the energy efficiency of agriculture and reducing its reliance of fossil resources.
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.
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 β-glucans are preserved in chitin upon its isolation from the fungal matrix, enabling new horizons for various engineering solutions.
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 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.
Biodiesel is a renewable vehicle fuel based on biomass. Although environmental benefits can be assumed, both positive and negative impacts have been stated in the past, raising some doubts on the effective environmental performance of biofuels. They therefore need to be carefully examined through the established methods of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Such studies, though, have been known to give conflicting results and, for non-specialist users of environmental performance information, such variations in literature between studies will be a cause of concern. Following the principles of the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards for LCA, we have explored the variations in LCA methodology and parameter choices in a comparative analysis of 11 published studies of the production of biodiesel from palm oil. This study highlights inconsistencies between individual studies in aspects such as data coverage and completeness, system boundaries, and input and output streams. The importance of including factors such as plantation carbon sequestration and land use change demonstrates a need for consistent and appropriate methodologies. These factors are some of the most important drivers for variation in the results of LCA studies of palm oil systems, as well as being necessary for a comprehensive perspective. The results of this study also highlight the importance of geographical location and the fact that studies are often based on very limited data sources. A variance analysis identified the greatest source of variation across the chosen data sets, highlighting key methodology steps and pointed at pitfalls in employing supposedly environmentally benign technologies. The paper offers suggestions to i) assist inter-study comparisons, ii) offer non-LCA specialist users insight into the causes of variable results between LCA studies, and iii) guide further in-depth research.
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 role of research in the development of wood preservation over the last 150 years is reviewed with particular emphasis on the last two decades. The authors present a personal view of historical developments which have been particularly influential and highlight current trends such as fixed waterborne preservatives, vapour phase treatments, definition of decay hazard classes and environmental impact assessments. These are considered with reference to the structure of the International Research Group on Wood Preservation (IRG) which was founded in 1969 and has now grown into an international research community of over 300 members from 52 countries. The authors highlight three factors, 'environmental' influences, harmonisation of standards (particularly in the EU) and economic factors, which have exerted an intense pressure on both research and on product development in recent years.
A life cycle assessment (LCA) study was carried out to evaluate the environmental implications of the production and use of ethanol from three fast-growing wood crops: eucalyptus, black locust and poplar in flexi-fuel vehicles. The production of a blend rich in ethanol: E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline by volume) was assessed and the results compared with those of conventional gasoline (CG) in an equivalent car. The following environmental categories were evaluated: fossil fuels use (FF), global warming potential over 100 years (GWP 100), photochemical oxidant creation potential (POCP), acidification potential (AP) and eutrophication potential (EP).The use of ethanol derived from black locust was found to be the option with the lowest impact in most categories with reductions of 97%, 42%, 41% and 76% for GWP 100, AP, EP and FF respectively in comparison with CG.Concerning the production stage of ethanol (excluding the stages of blending and use), black locust has the lowest environmental impacts due to the low levels of agricultural inputs during its cultivation. The poplar scenario has higher impacts in AP and EP due to the emission of diffuse substances from fertilizer application and the eucalyptus scenario in GWP 100, POCP and FF due to the use and requirements of heavy machinery during harvesting.The use of the LCA methodology has helped to identify the key areas in the life cycle of ethanol. Special attention should be paid to ethanol production related activities and forest activities oriented to the feedstock production. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
North American composites, including laminated veneer lumber, oriented strandboard, and medium density fiberboard, were treated by vapor boron technology and subsequently tested in static bending. Tensile properties were also determined for the two composite board products. The study was designed as a 2 × 3 factorial with two mill locations and three treatment levels for each composite type. In general, mill location significantly affected most property values, while treatment level caused only significant reductions at the highest treatment level. The significance of mill location was attributed mainly to species differences since species varied between locations for each composite type. © 2005 by the Society of Wood Science and Technology.
The distribution of Minthea rugicollis worldwide is presented based on a compilation of literature records of population establishments and also from the world collection of M. rugicollis at the Natural History Museum, London. The distribution map derived indicates the limits of distribution for M. rugicollis to be 40° north and south of the Equator, with maximum distribution within 20° north and south. The present compiled records of occurrence of established populations as well as reports on repeated accidental introductions strongly suggest. M. rugicollis is not capable of establishing populations under outdoor temperate conditions.
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.
The production of bioethanol from various waste papers (newspaper, office paper, magazine and cardboard) was evaluated from an environmental standpoint. 'Cradle-to-grave' (or 'well-to-wheel') analyses were performed using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach with the aims of identifying the key drivers of environmental impact in the bioethanol supply chains and of comparing the environmental footprints of various bioethanol supply chains with those of conventional petrol. Base cases (bioethanol production from various waste papers) and two state-of-the-art cases including pre-treatment of office paper by dilute acid (DA) and of newspaper by an oxidative lime (OL) process were constructed using laboratory data, expert consultations, literature values, and simulation in AspenPlus™ software. Contribution analysis showed enzyme production needed for hydrolysis of the papers to be the main contributor to the environmental profiles for bioethanol in the base cases. The production of process heat and hydrochloric acid respectively were the main contributors to the bioethanol environmental profiles for office paper-to-bioethanol with DA pre-treatment and newspaper-to-bioethanol with OL pre-treatment. Overall, bioethanol produced from newspaper, magazine paper and cardboard was found to have a lower environmental impact than the conventional transport fuel petrol. However, this conclusion is significantly affected by the system boundaries used for the analysis. When an expanded system boundary is applied to consider virgin and recycled paper production as the potential consequential effects within the bioethanol and petrol systems respectively, office paper-derived bioethanol systems emerge as the most environmentally favourable over petrol. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2012.
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.
This paper forms a continuation of the work on treatment of timber products with gaseous borate esters. Turner and Murphy (1995) in an earlier paper indicated that gas flow rate into the wood substrate was the principle factor limiting the rate of boric acid retention and the depth of penetration into wood products. The current paper considers the impact of this factor on treatment efficacy and considers experimental work designed to evaluate qualitatively, the impact of proposed modifications to the process. Significant improvements in treatment performance were observed.
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.
Amidst the great technological progress being made in the field of nanotechnology, we are confronted by both conventional and novel environmental challenges and opportunities. Several gaps exist in the present state of knowledge or experience with nanomaterials. Understanding and managing the uncertainties that these gaps cause in LCAs is essential. Traditionally used for more established technology systems, environmental LCA is now being applied to nanomaterials by policy-makers, researchers and industry. However, the aleatory (variability) and epistemic (system process) uncertainties in LCAs of nanomaterials need to be handled correctly and communicated in the analysis. Otherwise, the results risk being misinterpreted, misguiding decision-making processes and could lead to significant detrimental effects for industry, research and policy-making. Here, we review current life cycle assessment literature for carbon nanotubes, and identify the key sources of uncertainty that need to be taken into consideration. These include: the potential for non-equivalency between mass and toxicity (potentially requiring inventory and impact models to be adjusted); the use of proxy data to bridge gaps in inventory data; and the often very wide ranges in material performance, process energy and product lifetimes quoted.
This paper discusses the results of water absorption, thickness swelling, and internal bond tests of commercial North American wood strand and fiber composites treated using a vapor boron treatment process. For oriented strandboard (OSB), high boron loadings led to lower internal bond strength and lower thickness swelling. Water absorption results were variable but no deleterious effect of treatment was noted. For medium density fiberboard (MDF), the highest loadings led to reduced internal bond strength. Thickness swelling decreased with increasing boron level, but not significantly. As with OSB, water absorption results varied. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
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.
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.