Challenges2013, 4(2), 217-233; doi:10.3390/challe4020217 - published online 15 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Smart grid has strong potential to advance and encourage renewable energy deployment, but given the multiple motivations for smart grid, renewables are not always central in smart grid policy discussions. The term “smart grid” represents a set of technologies, including advanced meters, sensors and energy storage that are crucial for the integration of more renewable and low carbon electricity into the electric power grid. However, developing and building a smart grid is jurisdictionally complex, path dependent and context specific; states and regions are approaching grid modernization in different ways. This paper reports on a comparative analysis of smart grid development in seven U.S. states. We use state-level policy documents to learn what motivates smart grid development and how smart grid is framed in relation to renewable energy. In some states, renewable technologies are presented as an integral part of the smart grid policy discussion, while in others they are largely absent.
Challenges2013, 4(2), 201-216; doi:10.3390/challe4020201 - published online 5 September 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Interest in the potential of smart grid to transform the way societies generate, distribute, and use electricity has increased dramatically over the past decade. A smarter grid could contribute to both climate change mitigation and adaptation by increasing low-carbon electricity production and enhancing system reliability and resilience. However, climate goals are not necessarily essential for smart grid. Climate change is only one of many considerations motivating innovation in electricity systems, and depending on the path of grid modernization, a future smart grid might do little to reduce, or could even exacerbate, risks associated with climate change. This paper identifies tensions within a shared smart grid vision and illustrates how competing societal priorities are influencing electricity system innovation. Co-existing but divergent priorities among key actors’ are mapped across two critical dimensions: centralized versus decentralized energy systems and radical versus incremental change. Understanding these tensions provides insights on how climate change objectives can be integrated to shape smart grid development. Electricity system change is context-specific and path-dependent, so specific strategies linking smart grid and climate change need to be developed at local, regional, and national levels. And while incremental improvements may bring short term gains, a radical transformation is needed to realize climate objectives.
Challenges2013, 4(2), 188-200; doi:10.3390/challe4020188 - published online 30 August 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Chronic exposure to particulate pollution is suspected to exacerbate inflammatory respiratory diseases such as asthma characterized by an airway remodelling involving fibrosis. Our study aims to investigate whether the secretome from human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cells exposed to fine particulate matter (PM) induces fibroblast proliferation. Primary HBE cells grown on air liquid interface were repeatedly exposed to fine PM at 5 and 10 µg/cm² (four treatments, 48 hours apart) and maintained in culture for five weeks. Collected basolateral culture medium was used as a conditioned medium for the subsequent treatment of fibroblasts. We observed that the conditioned medium collected from HBE cells treated with fine PM increased the growth rate of fibroblasts compared to the conditioned medium collected from control HBE cells. Fibroblast phenotype assessed by the observation of the vimentin network was well preserved. The mitogenic effect of conditioned medium was reduced in the presence of anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), anti-amphiregulin or anti-TGFa, underlining the role of EGFR ligands in fibroblast proliferation. When fibroblasts were co-cultured with HBE cells treated once with fine PM, they exhibited a higher growth rate than fibroblasts co-cultured with non-treated HBE cells. Altogether these data show that the exposure of HBE cells to fine PM induced the production of EGFR ligands in sufficient amount to stimulate fibroblast proliferation providing insight into the role of PM in airway remodelling.
Challenges2013, 4(2), 169-187; doi:10.3390/challe4020169 - published online 23 July 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Environmental, plant and animal exposure to hazardous substances from electronic wastes (e-wastes) in Nigeria is increasing. In this study, the potential cytogenotoxicity of e-wastes leachate and contaminated well water samples obtained from Alaba International Electronic Market in Lagos, Nigeria, using induction of chromosome and root growth anomalies in Allium cepa, and micronucleus (MN) in peripheral erythrocytes of Clarias gariepinus, was evaluated. The possible cause of DNA damage via the assessments of liver malondialdehyde (MDA), catalase (CAT), reduced glutathione (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) as indicators of oxidative stress in mice was also investigated. There was significant (p < 0.05) inhibition of root growth and mitosis in A. cepa. Cytological aberrations such as spindle disturbance, C-mitosis and binucleated cells, and morphological alterations like tumor and twisting roots were also induced. There was concentration-dependent, significant (p < 0.05) induction of micronucleated erythrocytes and nuclear abnormalities such as blebbed nuclei and binucleated erythrocytes in C. gariepinus. A significant increase (p < 0.001) in CAT, GSH and MDA with concomitant decrease in SOD concentrations were observed in the treated mice. Pb, As, Cu, Cr, and Cd analyzed in the tested samples contributed significantly to these observations. This shows that the well water samples and leachate contained substances capable of inducing somatic mutation and oxidative stress in living cells; and this is of health importance in countries with risk of e-wastes exposure.
Challenges2013, 4(2), 154-168; doi:10.3390/challe4020154 - published online 23 July 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper presents current trends in service design research concerning large scale projects aimed at generating changes at a local scale. The strategy adopted to achieve this, is to co-design solutions including future users in the development process, prototyping and testing system of products and services before their actual implementation. On the basis of experience achieved in the European Project Life 2.0, this paper discusses which methods and competencies are applied in the development of these projects, eliciting the lessons learnt especially from the piloting phase in which the participatory design (PD) approach plays a major role. In the first part, the topic is introduced jointly with the theoretical background where the user center design and participatory design methods are presented; then the Life 2.0 project development is described; finally the experience is discussed from a service design perspective, eliciting guidelines for piloting and prototyping services in a real context of use. The paper concludes reflecting on the designers’ role and competencies needed in this process.
Challenges2013, 4(2), 136-153; doi:10.3390/challe4020136 - published online 23 July 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Informal recycling of electronics in the developing world has emerged as a new global environmental concern. The primary approach to address this problem has been command-and-control policies that ban informal recycling and international trade in electronic scrap. These bans are difficult to enforce and also have negative effects by reducing reuse of electronics, and employment for people in poverty. An alternate approach is to link informal and formal sectors so as to maintain economic activity while mitigating environmental damages. This article explores the idea of an interface organization that purchases components and waste from informal dismantlers and passes them on to formal processors. Environmental, economic and social implications of interface organizations are discussed. The main environmental questions to resolve are what e-scrap components should be targeted by the interface organization, i.e., circuit boards, wires, and/or plastic parts. Economically, when formal recycling is more profitable (e.g., for circuit boards), the interface organization is revenue positive. However, price subsidies are needed for copper wires and residual waste to incentivize informal dismantlers to turn in for formal processing. Socially, the potential for corruption and gaming of the system is critical and needs to be addressed.