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Sustainability, Volume 9, Issue 5 (May 2017)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The current e-waste management system suffers from losses in the form of materials, product and [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Oxidative Photodegradation of Pyrene and Fluoranthene by Fe-Based and Zn-Based Fenton Reagents
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 870; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050870
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 22 May 2017
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Abstract
Increased industrialization has introduced a lot of hazardous materials into ecosystems. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are among the most toxic and persistent organic pollutants emanating from petrochemical industrial areas. Remediation of PAHs-contaminated soil has been a particularly big challenge. Photochemical oxidation–reduction processes have
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Increased industrialization has introduced a lot of hazardous materials into ecosystems. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are among the most toxic and persistent organic pollutants emanating from petrochemical industrial areas. Remediation of PAHs-contaminated soil has been a particularly big challenge. Photochemical oxidation–reduction processes have gained attention because of their high efficiency and robustness for PAH removal from contaminated soils. In this study, the efficacy of Fe-based and Zn-based Fenton reagents for remediating soil contaminated with pyrene (Pyr) and fluoranthene (Flr) is evaluated. UV treatment (2-h exposure) at 254 nm resulted in 21.6 and 28.5% degradations of Pyr and Flr, respectively. The Zn-based Fenton reagent performed better than the Fe-based reagent by degrading 99.9% of Pyr. The Fe-based Fenton reagent (under UV light) resulted in 97.1–99.7% and 95.1–98.9% Pyr and Flr degradations, respectively, in 0.5–2 h. Notably, the temperature increase during UV irradiation facilitated the enhanced degradation of Pyr and Flr, as observed from negative correlations (r = (−)0.902–0.961 and p = 0.039–0.098) between the temperature and PAH concentrations. The newly tested Zn-based Fenton reagent was equally effective as the Fe-based Fenton reagent in degrading Pyr and Flr in soil. Hence, it can be used as a new alternative reagent to remediate PAH-polluted soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Open AccessArticle Economic Transformation in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region: Is It Undergoing the Environmental Kuznets Curve?
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050869
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 16 May 2017 / Accepted: 18 May 2017 / Published: 21 May 2017
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Abstract
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region Integration Plan is one of the most important national strategies in China promoting regional economic development. The environmental problems in this region, however, especially air pollution and contaminated groundwater, have enormous influence on the people’s health while also causing economic
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The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region Integration Plan is one of the most important national strategies in China promoting regional economic development. The environmental problems in this region, however, especially air pollution and contaminated groundwater, have enormous influence on the people’s health while also causing economic loss. Therefore, this study aims to analyze the pattern of its environmental and economic development. Panel data in the period 2004–2014 are used to establish an advanced model of the Environmental Kuznets Curve. The results indicate that the economic growth and environmental pollution of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region do not completely meet the Environment Kuznets Curve assumptions. The discharge volume of industrial wastewater and economic growth reflect a wave-type relation. The sulfur dioxide discharge volume and economic growth reflect a U-shaped relation; the generated volume of industrial solid wastes and economic growth reflect a reversed N-shaped relation, which is in accordance with the Environmental Kuznets Curve characteristics at the second inflection point. The variables added value of the secondary industry, population size and raw coal consumption volume have a significant positive influence on the discharge of various environmental pollutants in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The analysis provides policy recommendations for the government to develop regional economic and environmental protection policies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Role of Technology Spillovers in the Process of Water Pollution Abatement for Large International Firms
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 868; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050868
Received: 20 March 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 21 May 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (420 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective of this paper is to analyze the effects of technology externalities stemming from different technological sectors for international firms engaged both in water pollution abatement and in dirty activities. We present a theoretical framework and an empirical analysis based upon a
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The objective of this paper is to analyze the effects of technology externalities stemming from different technological sectors for international firms engaged both in water pollution abatement and in dirty activities. We present a theoretical framework and an empirical analysis based upon a dataset composed of worldwide R&D-intensive firms. In order to identify the technological proximity between the firms, we construct an original Mahalanobis environmental industry weight matrix, based on the construction of technological vectors for each firm, with European ecological patents distributed across more technology classes. Opportune econometric techniques that deal with the firms’ unobserved heterogeneity and the weak exogeneity of the explanatory variables are implemented. The findings show significant spillover effects on the productivity and environmental performance of the firms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Use of Reservoir Sediment through Partial Application in Building Material
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 852; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050852
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 21 May 2017
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Abstract
Sediment, often considered a by-product of various activities within river basin management to be disposed of, or a pollutant to be controlled, is increasingly being acknowledged as a resource in need of management. The paper deals with the possibility of reusing sediment from
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Sediment, often considered a by-product of various activities within river basin management to be disposed of, or a pollutant to be controlled, is increasingly being acknowledged as a resource in need of management. The paper deals with the possibility of reusing sediment from two Slovak reservoirs (Klusov and Ruzin) as an alternative raw material in concrete production. Concrete specimens were prepared by a combination of original reservoir sediment, reservoir sediment mechanically activated by dry milling, reservoir sediment mechanically activated by dry milling together with biomass incinerator fly-ash as a binder. To improve the strength properties of specimens, sodium hydroxide (NaOH) was used as a sediment activator. Mixtures containing 40% of binder replacement by the above-mentioned combinations of original and treated sediments were tested for flexural and compressive strengths after 28, 90 and 365 days of curing. The results showed that the mixtures prepared from sediments milled without and with addition of fly ash as cement replacement satisfied the strength requirements for the compressive strength class C16/20 according to the European standard except the composites prepared with NaOH as the sediment activator. Addition of NaOH into composites in the concentration of 5 M as an activator of sediment indicated the negative impact on compressive and flexural strengths and thus NaOH was not an effective pozzolanic activator for sediments. This study reveals that the sediment may be considered as 40% cement substitution in building materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable River Basin Management)
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Open AccessArticle Improving Energy Efficiency of an Autonomous Bicycle with Adaptive Controller Design
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 866; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050866
Received: 26 January 2017 / Revised: 16 May 2017 / Accepted: 18 May 2017 / Published: 20 May 2017
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Abstract
A method is proposed to achieve lateral stability of an autonomous bicycle with only the rotation of the front wheel. This can be achieved with a classic controller. However, if the energy consumption of the bicycle also has to be minimized, this solution
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A method is proposed to achieve lateral stability of an autonomous bicycle with only the rotation of the front wheel. This can be achieved with a classic controller. However, if the energy consumption of the bicycle also has to be minimized, this solution is not valid. To solve this problem, an adaptive controller has been designed, which modifies its gains according to the bicycle’s forward velocity, adapting its response with minimum energy consumption and satisfying the design specifications. The study demonstrates the efficiency of the proposed control, achieving an energy saving of 73 . 8 % in trajectory tracking with respect to a conventional proportional-integral ( P I ) controller. These results show the importance of designing energy-efficient controllers, not only for autonomous vehicles but also for any automatic system where the energy consumption can be minimized. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Carbon Footprint Estimation in Fiber Optics Industry: A Case Study of OFS Fitel, LLC
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 865; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050865
Received: 6 April 2017 / Revised: 9 May 2017 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published: 20 May 2017
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Abstract
Detailed carbon footprinting assignments have been on the rise in more and more major manufacturing industries. The main strength of carbon footprinting is to make product manufacturers aware of carbon emissions and understand its meaning due to perceived global warming effects. Carbon foot-printing
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Detailed carbon footprinting assignments have been on the rise in more and more major manufacturing industries. The main strength of carbon footprinting is to make product manufacturers aware of carbon emissions and understand its meaning due to perceived global warming effects. Carbon foot-printing through life-cycle assessment in conjunction with greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting is essential for identifying opportunities for environmental efficiencies. Case studies of goods that require more complex production elements have also been increasing, like optical fiber manufacturing. From making ultra-pure glass rods to elongating hot fibers, the whole process involves using a high volume of chemicals and extensive energy. Hence, standard numbers addressing carbon footprinting specifically for fiber optics is helpful for the quantification of greenhouse gas intensity, mitigation of global warming, and adaptation against future climate change scenarios. This paper calculates and helps standardize the emission factor for the production of optical fiber from the scope of gate-to-gate: 4.81 tonnes CO2eq per million meters of produced fiber (which is 72.92 kg CO2eq per kg of produced fiber) in order to allow other industries to use this information in their own carbon footprint calculations. Since governmental regulatory agencies have largely failed to confront the risks associated with climate change borne by industries, it is essential for all industries to disclose their emissions in a standardized and comparable form in order to develop standard guidelines for all. This paper provides a practical life-cycle approach, concludes with requirements for further research and evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Engineering and Science)
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Open AccessArticle A Day-Ahead Wind Power Scenario Generation, Reduction, and Quality Test Tool
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 864; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050864
Received: 7 March 2017 / Revised: 14 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 20 May 2017
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Abstract
During the last decades, thanks to supportive policies of countries and a decrease in installation costs, total installed capacity of wind power has increased rapidly all around the world. The uncertain and variable nature of wind power has been a problem for transmission
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During the last decades, thanks to supportive policies of countries and a decrease in installation costs, total installed capacity of wind power has increased rapidly all around the world. The uncertain and variable nature of wind power has been a problem for transmission system operators and wind power plant owners. To solve this problem, numerous wind power forecast systems have been developed. Unfortunately none of them can obtain absolutely accurate forecasts yet. Thus, researchers assumed that wind power generation is a stochastic process and they proposed a stochastic programming approach to solve problems arising from the uncertainty of wind power. It is well known that representing stochastic process by possible scenarios is a major issue in the stochastic programming approach. Large numbers of scenarios can represent a stochastic process accurately, but it is not easy to solve a stochastic problem that contains a large number of scenarios. For this reason scenario reduction methods have been introduced. Finally, the quality of this reduced scenario set must be at an acceptable level to use them in calculations. All of these reasons have encouraged authors to develop a wind power scenario tool that can generate and reduce the scenario set and test the quality of it. The developed tool uses historical data to model wind forecast errors. Scenarios are generated around 24 day-ahead point wind power forecasts. A fast forward reduction algorithm is used to reduce the scenario set. Two metrics are proposed to assess the quality of the reduced scenario set. Site measurements are used to test the developed wind power scenario tool. Results showed that the tool can generate and reduce the scenario set successfully and the proposed metrics are useful to assess the quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wind Energy, Load and Price Forecasting towards Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability of Constructed Wetland under the Impact of Aquatic Organisms Overloading
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 863; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050863
Received: 7 April 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
Environmental impacts, such as earthquakes, chemical pollution and anthropogenic factors can affect the stability and sustainability of an ecosystem. In this study, a long-term (3.7 years) investigation experiment was conducted to estimate the sustainability of a constructed wetland (CW) under the impact of
[...] Read more.
Environmental impacts, such as earthquakes, chemical pollution and anthropogenic factors can affect the stability and sustainability of an ecosystem. In this study, a long-term (3.7 years) investigation experiment was conducted to estimate the sustainability of a constructed wetland (CW) under the impact of aquatic organisms overloading. The situation of aquatic organisms overloading in this study meant that around 27,000 kg of fishes had to be moved and accommodated in a 4 ha water area of wetland for six months. Experimental results indicated that the pH value of CW water was slightly acidic and the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) level decreased under the impact. On the other hand, the levels of Electrical Conductivity (EC), Suspended Solids (SS), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), and Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) of CW water were increased under the impact. The pathogen analysis revealed that total coliforms, Salmonella spp., Enterococcus spp., and Escherichia coli, in the wetland water increased under the impact. The analyzed factors of water quality and amount of pathogens were all returned to their original statuses soon after the impact ended. Eventually, the results of microbial community structure analysis showed that overloading of aquatic organisms slightly increased the specific richness (R) of wetland bacteria, whereas higher structural biodiversity (H) of CW could stabilize the whole microbial community and prevent the pathogens or other bacteria from increasing to become the dominant strains. These results were novel and could be possible to conclude that a CW environment could not only stabilize the water quality and amount of pathogens resulting from the impact of aquatic organisms overloading, but also they could stabilize the microbial community structures, allowing the biogeochemical cycles of the CW to function. They could provide the useful information for wetland sustainability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effects of Clean Air Act on Patenting Activities in Chemical Industry: Learning from Past Experiences
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050862
Received: 11 March 2017 / Revised: 4 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
The chemical industry provides essential goods we use in our daily lives and key ingredients for many diverse industries. On the other hand, their production and use require serious attention while they may be seriously harmful to local air quality. The Clean Air
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The chemical industry provides essential goods we use in our daily lives and key ingredients for many diverse industries. On the other hand, their production and use require serious attention while they may be seriously harmful to local air quality. The Clean Air Act (CAA) and its subsequent amendments regulate the emissions of hazardous air pollutants to protect public health and welfare in the U.S.A. since 1970. This study aimed to assess the impact of CAA on the rate of patenting in the chemical industry. With this in mind, basic chemical utility patents were analyzed to detect the effects of CAA on the patenting activities. Subsequent to the fitting of the ARIMA (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average) model (producing the least square of errors), a significant outlier was detected with the Dixon’s r22 Ratio Test. This outlier was the number of patents granted in 1972. Contextual queries in the text of those patent documents have shown that there was a considerable increase in the patents of chemistry which takes the sustainability relevant terms (air, emission, pollution, etc.) into consideration. It was concluded that companies in the chemistry industry adapted themselves very rapidly to the changes and CAA was an important incentive to create novel technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Learning of Power Technologies in China: Staged Dynamic Two-Factor Modeling and Empirical Evidence
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050861
Received: 18 April 2017 / Revised: 8 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
Cost evolution has an important influence on the commercialization and large-scale application of power technology. Many researchers have analyzed the quantitative relationship between the cost of power technology and its influencing factors while establishing various forms of technical learning curve models. In this
[...] Read more.
Cost evolution has an important influence on the commercialization and large-scale application of power technology. Many researchers have analyzed the quantitative relationship between the cost of power technology and its influencing factors while establishing various forms of technical learning curve models. In this paper, we focus on the positive effects of the policy on research and development (R&D) learning by summarizing and comparing four energy technology cost models based on learning curves. We explore the influencing factors and dynamic change paths of power technology costs. The paper establishes a multi-stage dynamic two-factor learning curve model based on cumulative R&D investment and the installed capacity. This work presents the structural changes of the influencing factors at various stages. Causality analysis and econometric estimation of learning curves are performed on wind power and other power technologies. The conclusion demonstrates that a “learn by researching” approach had led to cost reduction of wind power to date, but, in the long term, the effect of “learn by doing” is greater than that of “learn by researching” when R&D learning is saturated. Finally, the paper forecasts the learning rates and the cost trends of the main power technologies in China. The work presented in this study has implications on power technology development and energy policy in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Electric Power Systems Research)
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Open AccessArticle A New Sustainability City Index Based on Intellectual Capital Approach
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050860
Received: 19 March 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
Urban sustainability is a key factor that must be considered at the local level, however, there are few studies that consider sustainability using the triple bottom line approach and apply it to a large number of cities. In this paper, we develop a
[...] Read more.
Urban sustainability is a key factor that must be considered at the local level, however, there are few studies that consider sustainability using the triple bottom line approach and apply it to a large number of cities. In this paper, we develop a sustainability city index based on the triple bottom line using an intellectual capital approach that attempts to solve the negative aspects identified in the main indices proposed in the existing literature, such as the use of: subjective weightings, an arithmetic average or index that is not comparable. Here, we have used information available in the Urban Audit database for 2009. The results for 158 cities in 24 European countries show that the cities with the best positions are in the northern European countries. German cities occupied the best positions in the three dimensions of sustainability, albeit with a slightly worse performance in the social dimension. Moreover, the proposal index is consistent, without redundancy among the variables considered in the three dimensions. Full article
Open AccessArticle Research on the Coupling Coordination of a Sea–Land System Based on an Integrated Approach and New Evaluation Index System: A Case Study in Hainan Province, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050859
Received: 24 February 2017 / Revised: 29 April 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
Based on the concept of sea–land coordination and the statistical data of Hainan Province from 1999 to 2013, we establish a new evaluation index system included four aspects—economic development, social progress, environmental protection and resource efficiency—and use the integrated approach (such as the
[...] Read more.
Based on the concept of sea–land coordination and the statistical data of Hainan Province from 1999 to 2013, we establish a new evaluation index system included four aspects—economic development, social progress, environmental protection and resource efficiency—and use the integrated approach (such as the combination weight method, the coupling coordination degree model, the scissors difference model and the dynamic coupling coordination degree model) to measure the coupling coordination degree of a sea–land system. The results show that: (1) the overall development level of sea system and land system are gradually improved; (2) the coupling coordination degree of sea–land system is gradually from moderately uncoordinated to well coordinated, and the comprehensive evaluation value of sea system has a greater effect on the coupling coordination degree than that of land system; (3) the scissors difference between sea system and land system is gradually increasing; (4) the dynamic coupling coordination degree of the sea–land system which favors a parabolic shape is basically in the break-in development stage; (5) in the process of sea–land system coordination, the influencing factors of economic development, the social progress and resource efficiency should be given priority and, at the same time, strengthen the environmental protection efforts and awareness to promote the role of environmental protection in the sea–land coordination. Full article
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Open AccessCase Report Lifting the Information Barriers to Address Sustainability Challenges with Data from Physical Geography and Earth Observation
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050858
Received: 30 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 5 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4111 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainability challenges demand solutions, and the pace of technological and scientific advances in physical geography and Earth observation have great potential to provide the information needed to address these challenges. This paper highlights five online tools and initiatives that are lifting barriers to
[...] Read more.
Sustainability challenges demand solutions, and the pace of technological and scientific advances in physical geography and Earth observation have great potential to provide the information needed to address these challenges. This paper highlights five online tools and initiatives that are lifting barriers to address these challenges. The enviroGRIDS project in the Black Sea catchment demonstrates how the use of spatial data infrastructures can facilitate data sharing. Google Earth Engine is providing solutions to challenges of processing big data into usable information. Additionally, application programming interfaces allow outsiders to elaborate and iterate on programs to explore novel uses of data and models, as seen in the Berkeley Ecoinformatics Engine. Finally, collaborative mapping tools, such as Seasketch/MarineMap and the InVEST software suite, allow engagement within and between groups of experts and stakeholders for the development, deployment, and long-term impact of a project. Merging these different experiences can set a new standard for online information tools supporting sustainable development from evidence brought by physical geography combined with socioeconomic conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Geography and Environmental Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle The Significance of Forests and Algae in CO2 Balance: A Hungarian Case Study
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 857; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050857
Received: 21 February 2017 / Revised: 12 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (776 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study presents the sequestration and emissions of forests and algae related to CO2 while providing a comparison to other biomass sources (arable crops, short rotation coppices). The goal of the paper is to analyze the impact of the current CO2
[...] Read more.
This study presents the sequestration and emissions of forests and algae related to CO2 while providing a comparison to other biomass sources (arable crops, short rotation coppices). The goal of the paper is to analyze the impact of the current CO2 balance of forests and the future prospects for algae. Our calculations are based on data, not only from the literature but, in the case of algae, from our own previous experimental work. It was concluded that the CO2 sequestration and natural gas saving of forests is typically 3.78 times higher than the emissions resulting from the production technology and from the burning process. The economic and environmental protection-related efficiency operate in opposite directions. The CO2 sequestration ability of algae can primarily be utilized when connected to power plants. The optimal solution could be algae production integrated with biogas power plants, since plant sizes are smaller and algae may play a role, not only in the elimination of CO2 emissions and the utilization of heat but also in wastewater purification. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Food Image Recognition via Superpixel Based Low-Level and Mid-Level Distance Coding for Smart Home Applications
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 856; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050856
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 4 May 2017 / Accepted: 12 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1042 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Food image recognition is a key enabler for many smart home applications such as smart kitchen and smart personal nutrition log. In order to improve living experience and life quality, smart home systems collect valuable insights of users’ preferences, nutrition intake and health
[...] Read more.
Food image recognition is a key enabler for many smart home applications such as smart kitchen and smart personal nutrition log. In order to improve living experience and life quality, smart home systems collect valuable insights of users’ preferences, nutrition intake and health conditions via accurate and robust food image recognition. In addition, efficiency is also a major concern since many smart home applications are deployed on mobile devices where high-end GPUs are not available. In this paper, we investigate compact and efficient food image recognition methods, namely low-level and mid-level approaches. Considering the real application scenario where only limited and noisy data are available, we first proposed a superpixel based Linear Distance Coding (LDC) framework where distinctive low-level food image features are extracted to improve performance. On a challenging small food image dataset where only 12 training images are available per category, our framework has shown superior performance in both accuracy and robustness. In addition, to better model deformable food part distribution, we extend LDC’s feature-to-class distance idea and propose a mid-level superpixel food parts-to-class distance mining framework. The proposed framework show superior performance on a benchmark food image datasets compared to other low-level and mid-level approaches in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart X for Sustainability)
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