Two microbial fuel cells were inoculated with activated sludge from Finland and operated under moderate (25?°C) and low (8?°C) temperatures. Operation under real urban wastewater showed similarities in chemical oxygen demand removal and voltage generated, although moderate temperature supported higher ammonium oxidation. Fungi disappeared in the microbial fuel cell operated at temperature of 25?°C. Archaea domain was dominated by methanogenic archaea at both temperature scenarios. Important differences were observed in bacterial communities between both temperatures, however generating similar voltage. The results supported that the implementation of microbial fuel cells in Nordic countries operating under real conditions could be successful, as well as suggested the flexibility of cold-adapted inoculum for starting-up microbial fuel cells, regardless of the operating temperature of the system, obtaining higher COD removal and voltage generation performances at low temperature than at moderate temperature.
The growing demand for biofuels is promoting the expansion of a number of agricultural commodities, including oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). Oil-palm plantations cover over 13 million ha, primarily in Southeast Asia, where they have directly or indirectly replaced tropical rainforest. We explored the impact of the spread of oil-palm plantations on greenhouse gas emission and biodiversity. We assessed changes in carbon stocks with changing land use and compared this with the amount of fossil-fuel carbon emission avoided through its replacement by biofuel carbon. We estimated it would take between 75 and 93 years for the carbon emissions saved through use of biofuel to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion, depending on how the forest was cleared. If the original habitat was peatland, carbon balance would take more than 600 years. Conversely, planting oil palms on degraded grassland would lead to a net removal of carbon within 10 years. These estimates have associated uncertainty, but their magnitude and relative proportions seem credible. We carried out a meta-analysis of published faunal studies that compared forest with oil palm. We found that plantations supported species-poor communities containing few forest species. Because no published data on flora were available, we present results from our sampling of plants in oil palm and forest plots in Indonesia. Although the species richness of pteridophytes was higher in plantations, they held few forest species. Trees, lianas, epiphytic orchids, and indigenous palms were wholly absent from oil-palm plantations. The majority of individual plants and animals in oil-palm plantations belonged to a small number of generalist species of low conservation concern. As countries strive to meet obligations to reduce carbon emissions under one international agreement (Kyoto Protocol), they may not only fail to meet their obligations under another (Convention on Biological Diversity) but may actually hasten global climate change. Reducing deforestation is likely to represent a more effective climate-change mitigation strategy than converting forest for biofuel production, and it may help nations meet their international commitments to reduce biodiversity loss.
There are currently strong incentives for increased use of renewable fuels in the transport sector worldwide. However, some bioethanol and biodiesel production routes have limitations with regard to resource efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gases. More efficient biofuel systems are those based on lignocelluloses and novel conversion technologies. A complementary strategy to these is to increase the production of biogas from the digestion of organic residues and energy crops, or from byproducts of ethanol and biodiesel production. Compared with other biomass-based vehicle fuels available so far, biogas often has several advantages from an environmental and resource-efficiency perspective. This provides the motivation for further technological development aiming to reduce costs and thereby increased economic competitiveness of biogas as a vehicle fuel.
Up to 20 million tons of waste wood biomass per year is left unused in Finland, mainly in the forests during forestry operations, because supply and demand does not meet. As a consequence of high heat energy prices, the looming threat of climate change, the greenhouse effect, and due to global as well as national demands to considerably increase the proportion of renewable energy, there is currently tremendous enthusiasm in Finland to substantially increase pellet production. As part of this European objective to increase the eco- and cost-efficient utilization of bio-energy from the European forest belt, the aim of our research group is - by means of multidisciplinary research, especially through chemical methods - to promote the development of Nordic wood-based pellet production in both the qualitative and the quantitative sense. Wood-based pellets are classified as an emission-neutral fuel, which means that they are free from emission trading in the European Union. The main fields of pellet research and the chemical toolbox that has been developed for these studies, which includes a new specific staining and optical microscope method designed to determine the cross-linking of pellets in the presence of various binding compounds, are described in this paper. As model examples illustrating the benefits of this toolbox, experimental data is presented concerning Finnish wood pellets and corresponding wood-based pellets that include the use of starch-containing waste potato peel residue and commercial lignosulfonate as binding materials. The initial results concerning the use of the developed and optimized specific staining and microscopic method using starch-containing potato peel residue as binding material are presented.
Traffic is one of the major sources of harmful airborne particles worldwide. To relate exposure to adverse health effects it is important to determine the deposition probability of the inhaled particles in the human respiratory tract. The size-dependent deposition of 12-580 nm particles was measured with a novel setup in 9 healthy subjects breathing by mouth on the windward side of a busy street in Copenhagen, Denmark. The aerosol was characterized both at the curbside and, to obtain the background concentration, at rooftop level. Particle hygroscopicity, a key parameter affecting respiratory tract deposition, was also measured at the same time of exposure. The total deposition fraction of the curbside particles in the range 12-580 nm was 0.60 by number, 0.29 by surface area, and 0.23 by mass. The deposition fractions of the "traffic exhaust" contribution, calculated as the hydrophobic fraction of the curbside particles, was 0.68, 0.35, and 0.28 by number, surface area, and mass, respectively. The deposited amount of traffic exhaust particles was 16 times higher by number and 3 times higher by surface area compared to the deposition of residential biofuel combustion particles investigated previously (equal inhaled mass concentrations). This was because the traffic exhaust particles had both a higher deposition probability and a higher number and surface area concentration per unit mass. To validate the results, the respiratory tract deposition was estimated by using the well-established ICRP model. Predictions were in agreement with experimental results when the effects of particle hygroscopicity were considered in the model.
OBJECTIVES: Particles in ambient air are associated with such health effects as lung diseases and cancer of the lung. Exposure to bioaerosols has been found to be associated with respiratory symptoms. The toxic properties of exposure to combustion and bioaerosol particles from biofuel plants have not been studied in detail. This study investigated whether exposure to dust from biofuel plants induces DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) damage and inflammation in exposed mice. METHODS: DNA damage and inflammation were evaluated in mice exposed through the intratracheal installation of airborne dust collected at a biofuel plant at the straw storage hall and in the boiler room. The mice were given either a single dose of dust (18 or 54 microg) or four doses of 54 microg on each of four consecutive days. Control mice were exposed to a 0.9% sodium chloride solution. RESULTS: In the mice exposed to 4 x 54 microg of dust, the lung tissue mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) were increased more than 10-fold if the dust was from the boiler room and 30- to 60-fold if the dust came from the straw storage hall. The levels of DNA strand breaks in broncheoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells from the mice exposed to dust did not differ from those in the control samples. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that the instillation of dust from a biofuel plant, at doses corresponding to 2 weeks of exposure to human endotoxins, results in a strong inflammatory response without detectable DNA damage in BAL cells. The dust from the straw storage hall induced the strongest inflammatory response and had the highest concentration of most microbial components.
Among the existing environmental assessments of bioethanol, the studies suggesting an environmental benefit of bioethanol all ignore the constraints on the availability of biomass resources and the implications competition for biomass has on the assessment We show that toward 2030, regardless of whether a global or European perspective is applied, the amount of biomass, which can become available for bioethanol or other energy uses, will be physically and economically constrained. This implies that use of biomass or land for bioethanol production will most likely happen at the expense of alternative uses. In this perspective, we show that for the case of a new advanced bioethanol technology, in terms of reducing greenhouse emissions and fossil fuel dependency, more is lost than gained when prioritizing biomass or land for bioethanol. Technology pathways involving heat and power production and/or biogas, natural gas or electricity for transport are advantageous.
Fitting myoelectrically controlled hand prostheses to young children has previously been considered unrealistic and even contraindicated. In 1971 the first preschool child was supplied with a myoelectric prosthesis at the Regional Hospital in Orebro, Sweden. A total of 40 young unilateral below-elbow congenital amputee children have thus far been fitted. The youngest children were 16 months of age when fitted. Such prostheses are clearly better integrated and accepted by children than by most adults. However, certain condiderations must be taken into account: the stump parameters ought to be suitable and the fitting done by a skilled team; the training must be properly followed up in close cooperation with the parents, who should be thoroughly and adequately informed; possibilities of prosthetic adjustments and rapid repairs should be mentioned; and psychological factors must be carefully evaluated. Under these conditions a very early myoelectric prosthetic fitting can be expected to greatly benefit the individual.