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16 pages, 709 KiB  
Article
Navigating the Eco-Design Paradox: Criteria and Methods for Sustainable Eco-Innovation Assessment in Early Development Stages
Sustainability 2024, 16(5), 2071; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16052071 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
This paper examines the growing importance of eco-innovation in aligning sustainability with technological development. It explores the ‘eco-design paradox’, which emphasizes the tension between the need for flexible design and the availability of data required for assessing environmental impacts during early innovation stages. [...] Read more.
This paper examines the growing importance of eco-innovation in aligning sustainability with technological development. It explores the ‘eco-design paradox’, which emphasizes the tension between the need for flexible design and the availability of data required for assessing environmental impacts during early innovation stages. This paradox presents a challenge: the lack of detailed data can have an impact on the ability to make sustainable optimal design decisions as designs are still fluid. The study investigates the essential sustainability aspects to be evaluated in the initial phases of innovation and explores the involvement of decision-makers and entrepreneurs in the sustainability assessment process. The paper uses a robust action research methodology to examine various eco-innovation diagnostic tools in collaboration with two French Institutes of Technology (FITs). A comparative analysis is conducted to assess these tools’ efficacity in evaluating several dimensions of sustainability, including environmental, social, and economic aspects. Our investigation identifies key criteria that are crucial for early-stage sustainability assessments, such as innovation description, systemic vision, functionality, and stakeholder involvement. The findings will guide policy makers, researchers, and practitioners in the field of eco-innovation by providing a comprehensive framework for evaluating and promoting sustainable innovations in their early stages. The insights from our findings show how important expert knowledge is in the eco-innovation diagnostic process. They also demonstrate the need for a more integrated approach to eco-innovation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Technological Innovation: 2nd Edition)
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17 pages, 7361 KiB  
Article
Differentiating Cell Entry Potentials of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Subvariants on Human Lung Epithelium Cells
by , , , , , , , and
Viruses 2024, 16(3), 391; https://doi.org/10.3390/v16030391 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
The surface spike (S) glycoprotein mediates cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the host through fusion at the plasma membrane or endocytosis. Omicron lineages/sublineages have acquired extensive mutations in S to gain transmissibility advantages and altered antigenicity. The fusogenicity, antigenicity, and evasion of Omicron [...] Read more.
The surface spike (S) glycoprotein mediates cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the host through fusion at the plasma membrane or endocytosis. Omicron lineages/sublineages have acquired extensive mutations in S to gain transmissibility advantages and altered antigenicity. The fusogenicity, antigenicity, and evasion of Omicron subvariants have been extensively investigated at unprecedented speed to align with the mutation rate of S. Cells that overexpress receptors/cofactors are mostly used as hosts to amplify infection sensitivity to tested variants. However, systematic cell entry comparisons of most prior dominant Omicron subvariants using human lung epithelium cells are yet to be well-studied. Here, with human bronchial epithelium BEAS-2B cells as the host, we compared single-round virus-to-cell entry and cell-to-cell fusion of Omicron BA.1, BA.5, BQ.1.1, CH.1.1, XBB.1.5, and XBB.1.16 based upon split NanoLuc fusion readout assays and the S-pseudotyped lentivirus system. Virus-to-cell entry of tested S variants exhibited cell-type dependence. The parental Omicron BA.1 required more time to develop full entry to HEK293T-ACE2-TMPRSS2 than BEAS-2B cells. Compared to unchanged P681, S-cleavage constructs of P681H/R did not have any noticeable advantages in cell entry. Omicron BA.1 and its descendants entered BEAS-2B cells more efficiently than D614G, and it was slightly less or comparable to that of Delta. Serine protease-pretreated Omicron subvariants enhanced virus-to-cell entry in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting fusion at the plasma membrane persists as a productive cell entry route. Spike-mediated cell-to-cell fusion and total S1/S2 processing of Omicron descendants were similar. Our results indicate no obvious entry or fusion advantages of recent Omicron descendants over preceding variants since Delta, thus supporting immune evasion conferred by antigenicity shifts due to altered S sequences as probably the primary viral fitness driver. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Host Membranes and Virus Infection Cycle)
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29 pages, 4963 KiB  
Article
Synthesis and Characterization of Amine and Aldehyde-Containing Copolymers for Enzymatic Crosslinking of Gelatine
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(5), 2897; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25052897 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
In tissue engineering (TE), the support structure (scaffold) plays a key role necessary for cell adhesion and proliferation. The protein constituents of the extracellular matrix (ECM), such as collagen, its derivative gelatine, and elastin, are the most attractive materials as possible scaffolds. To [...] Read more.
In tissue engineering (TE), the support structure (scaffold) plays a key role necessary for cell adhesion and proliferation. The protein constituents of the extracellular matrix (ECM), such as collagen, its derivative gelatine, and elastin, are the most attractive materials as possible scaffolds. To improve the modest mechanical properties of gelatine, a strategy consists of crosslinking it, as naturally occurs for collagen, which is stiffened by the oxidative action of lysyl oxidase (LO). Here, a novel protocol to crosslink gelatine has been developed, not using the commonly employed crosslinkers, but based on the formation of imine bonds or on aldolic condensation reactions occurring between gelatine and properly synthesized copolymers containing amine residues via LO-mediated oxidation. Particularly, we first synthesized and characterized an amino butyl styrene monomer (5), its copolymers with dimethylacrylamide (DMAA), and its terpolymer with DMAA and acrylic acid (AA). Three acryloyl amidoamine monomers (11a–c) and their copolymers with DMAA were then prepared. A methacrolein (MA)/DMAA copolymer already possessing the needed aldehyde groups was finally developed to investigate the relevance of LO in the crosslinking process. Oxidation tests of amine copolymers with LO were performed to identify the best substrates to be used in experiments of gelatine reticulation. Copolymers obtained with 5, 11b, and 11c were excellent substrates for LO and were employed with MA/DMAA copolymers in gelatine crosslinking tests in different conditions. Among the amine-containing copolymers, that obtained with 5 (CP5/DMMA-43.1) afforded a material (M21) with the highest crosslinking percentage (71%). Cytotoxicity experiments carried out on two cell lines (IMR-32 and SH SY5Y) with the analogous (P5) of the synthetic constituent of M21 (CP5/DMAA) had evidenced no significant reduction in cell viability, but proliferation promotion, thus establishing the biocompatibility of M21 and the possibility to develop it as a new scaffold for TE, upon further investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Micro- and Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications)
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18 pages, 4366 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Failures during Commissioning and Operation in Photovoltaic Power Systems
by , and
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2083; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052083 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Considering global warming and environmental problems, the importance of renewable energy sources is increasing day by day. In particular, the effects of wind and solar power, which are variable renewable power sources, on the power system necessitate their evaluation in terms of the [...] Read more.
Considering global warming and environmental problems, the importance of renewable energy sources is increasing day by day. In particular, the effects of wind and solar power, which are variable renewable power sources, on the power system necessitate their evaluation in terms of the reliability of the power system. Photovoltaic panels, which enable the conversion of solar power into electrical power with semiconductors, have started to take an important place in global energy investments today. Photovoltaic power plants increase the demand for this energy source with continuous energy conversion depending on sunshine duration and radiation intensity. Among the renewable energy sources, the most easily utilized energy source, regardless of geographical conditions, is the sun. To prevent the energy production of PV power plants from being interrupted, it is necessary to address and analyze all kinds of faults that will affect power production in order to increase the reliability of the system. Academic studies in this field are generally grouped under two topics: classification of faults or modeling of electrical faults. Based on this, in this study, the problems that occur during the installation and operation of photovoltaic systems are classified, and the relevant faults are modeled and simulated in MATLAB Simulink version 23.2 (R2023b). Thus, a scientific approach to the problems of photovoltaic power plant operating conditions has been gained, which will be the basis for academic studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Solar and Wind Power and Energy Forecasting)
15 pages, 1195 KiB  
Article
Effect of Polymer Adjuvant Type and Concentration on Atomization Characteristics of Nozzle
Agriculture 2024, 14(3), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14030404 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
(1) Background: Various types of adjuvants are added during application to enhance the spraying effect, but most adjuvant formulations are proprietary products, and their exact compositions have not been disclosed. (2) Methods: The spatial distributions of droplet sizes and velocities generated by the [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Various types of adjuvants are added during application to enhance the spraying effect, but most adjuvant formulations are proprietary products, and their exact compositions have not been disclosed. (2) Methods: The spatial distributions of droplet sizes and velocities generated by the atomization of different polymer adjuvants were measured based on the phase Doppler interferometer (PDI) measurement method. The sub-area statistical method was used to quantitatively analyze the droplet characteristics at various points below the nozzle. (3) Results: The polymer (polyethylene oxide (PEO))/associative surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)) can increase the droplet size and velocity of the solution after atomization by increasing the amount of the polymer/associative surfactant to reduce the equilibrium surface tension of the solution and increase the viscosity. Different concentrations of polymer/associative surfactant atomization produced larger droplet sizes and better uniformity than polymer/non-associative surfactant (polysorbate-20 (Tween20)). At the same position, the relationship between droplet velocities for the three adjuvant combinations was roughly as follows: PEO/SDS solution had the highest velocity, followed by PEO solution, and PEO/Tween20 solution had the lowest velocity. (4) Conclusions: The optimal of droplet size distribution can be achieved by adding appropriate amounts of associative surfactants to polymers. Full article
17 pages, 7137 KiB  
Article
Microclimate Investigation in a Conference Room with Thermal Stratification: An Investigation of Different Air Conditioning Systems
Energies 2024, 17(5), 1188; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17051188 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
This paper investigates the microclimate in a conference room with thermal stratification, taking as a case study the chapel of Villa San Saverio, now the seat of the “Scuola Superiore” of the University of Catania (Italy). Surveys of the former chapel were conducted [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the microclimate in a conference room with thermal stratification, taking as a case study the chapel of Villa San Saverio, now the seat of the “Scuola Superiore” of the University of Catania (Italy). Surveys of the former chapel were conducted to monitor air temperature and relative humidity. Subsequently, the investigation relied on numerical simulations of a simplified computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model built with the DesignBuilder v7.0 software and validated by comparison with measured values. Simulations were then carried out considering three different scenarios: the current state without any HVAC system and two possible HVAC system configurations providing both air conditioning and ventilation. The results show that, from a comfort perspective, a lightweight radiant floor heating system, assisted by an appropriate ventilation system for air renewal placed at the floor level near the occupants, is preferable to floor-level fan coils and high ventilation channels. Furthermore, this was also confirmed by a preliminary energy analysis of the two HVAC options, where the ventilation effectiveness of the winter period, the temperature of the water the emitters are fed, the consequent COP value of the heat pump, and the electricity consumption were taken into consideration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section G: Energy and Buildings)
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19 pages, 1038 KiB  
Systematic Review
A Systematic Review of the Use of Intraoral Scanning for Human Identification Based on Palatal Morphology
Diagnostics 2024, 14(5), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics14050531 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
A common application for intraoral scanners is the digitization of the morphology of teeth and palatal rugae. Palatal scans are most commonly required to fabricate complete dentures and immediate transitional dentures and serve as a reference point for assessing orthodontic results. However, they [...] Read more.
A common application for intraoral scanners is the digitization of the morphology of teeth and palatal rugae. Palatal scans are most commonly required to fabricate complete dentures and immediate transitional dentures and serve as a reference point for assessing orthodontic results. However, they are also frequently included by accident, even though the main purpose of intraoral scanning is to reconstruct dentition using computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). The literature shows that the identification of disaster victims has frequently involved palatal rugae impressions. As the skull provides sound insulation, the rugae are resistant to heat, chemicals, and stress. Antemortem data might be difficult to find during a forensic inquiry, particularly in disaster victim identification cases. In contrast with DNA and fingerprints, there is a greater likelihood of having a dental record that contains palatal scans. With specialized software, the scans can be exported as open stereolithography (STL) files. Considering that a full case consumes up to about 100 MB of hard drive space, long-term storage should not be an issue compared to a plaster model. Additionally, dentists widely use online databases to exchange data for smile design, implant registration, and orthodontic purposes. This will produce a digital database that grows quickly and is readily usable for forensic investigations. The uniqueness of forensic features is frequently challenged; however, palatal morphology’s unique trait could make it possible as it is characteristic of individuals as well as the most distinguishing factor. This review will highlight how rugae, palatal morphology, mirroring, superimposition, and geometrics can serve in forensic identification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Oral Diseases Diagnosis and Management)
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10 pages, 1922 KiB  
Article
The Relationships between Caregiver Burden, Physical Frailty, Race, Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms (BPSD), and Other Associated Variables: An Exploratory Study
Medicina 2024, 60(3), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina60030426 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Background and Objectives: For persons with dementia, the relationships between caregiver burden, physical frailty, race, behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPSD), and other associated variables are poorly understood. Only one prior study examined the relationships among these variables but did not include race, which [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: For persons with dementia, the relationships between caregiver burden, physical frailty, race, behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPSD), and other associated variables are poorly understood. Only one prior study examined the relationships among these variables but did not include race, which is an important social determinant of health outcomes in the United States. To examine these interactions, we conducted a cross-sectional exploratory study based on a model by Sugimoto and colleagues. Materials and Methods: The sample comprised 85 patient–caregiver dyads (58% White) seen in four centers in diverse regions of New York State. All patients met DSM5 criteria for a major neurocognitive disorder, had a Clinical Dementia Rating sum score of ≥3, and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score of 10 to 26. Other measures included the SHARE-Frailty Instrument(FI), the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) to assess BPSD, Zarit’s Caregiver Burden Interview (CBI), Lawton’s Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Scale, the MMSE, the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale for Geriatrics (CIRSG), age, and gender. Results: In our sample, 59% met the criteria for prefrail/subsyndromal or frail/syndromal (SSF) on the SHARE-FI. SSF had significant direct effects on the NPI and significant indirect effects on the CBI mediated through the NPI; the NPI had significant direct effects on the CBI. Race (White) had significant direct effects on the CBI (higher) and SSF (lower) but did not have significant indirect effects on the CBI. MMSE, ADL, and CIRSG were not significantly associated with the NPI or the CBI. Conclusions: Our analysis demonstrated that frailty, race, BPSD, and caregiver burden may directly or indirectly influence one another, and therefore should be considered essential elements of dementia assessment, care, and research. These results must be viewed as provisional and should be replicated longitudinally with larger samples. Full article
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32 pages, 23973 KiB  
Article
A High-Flux Compact X-ray Free-Electron Laser for Next-Generation Chip Metrology Needs
Instruments 2024, 8(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/instruments8010019 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Recently, considerable work has been directed at the development of an ultracompact X-ray free-electron laser (UCXFEL) based on emerging techniques in high-field cryogenic acceleration, with attendant dramatic improvements in electron beam brightness and state-of-the-art concepts in beam dynamics, magnetic undulators, and X-ray optics. [...] Read more.
Recently, considerable work has been directed at the development of an ultracompact X-ray free-electron laser (UCXFEL) based on emerging techniques in high-field cryogenic acceleration, with attendant dramatic improvements in electron beam brightness and state-of-the-art concepts in beam dynamics, magnetic undulators, and X-ray optics. A full conceptual design of a 1 nm (1.24 keV) UCXFEL with a length and cost over an order of magnitude below current X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has resulted from this effort. This instrument has been developed with an emphasis on permitting exploratory scientific research in a wide variety of fields in a university setting. Concurrently, compact FELs are being vigorously developed for use as instruments to enable next-generation chip manufacturing through use as a high-flux, few nm lithography source. This new role suggests consideration of XFELs to urgently address emerging demands in the semiconductor device sector, as identified by recent national need studies, for new radiation sources aimed at chip manufacturing. Indeed, it has been shown that one may use coherent X-rays to perform 10–20 nm class resolution surveys of macroscopic, cm scale structures such as chips, using ptychographic laminography techniques. As the XFEL is a very promising candidate for realizing such methods, we present here an analysis of the issues and likely solutions associated with extending the UCXFEL to harder X-rays (above 7 keV), much higher fluxes, and increased levels of coherence, as well as methods of applying such a source for ptychographic laminography to microelectronic device measurements. We discuss the development path to move the concept to rapid realization of a transformative XFEL-based application, outlining both FEL and metrology system challenges. Full article
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13 pages, 1728 KiB  
Article
Odd-Even Effect of Polyesters‘ Cyclic Oligomers and the Definition of Oligomers Based on Physicochemical Properties
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2085; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052085 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
This work explores the definition and characterization of synthetic polymeric oligomers, chemical substances comprising a small number of repeated organic molecules. It highlights the lack of clarity surrounding the range of repeated units that can be classified as an oligomer, and how this [...] Read more.
This work explores the definition and characterization of synthetic polymeric oligomers, chemical substances comprising a small number of repeated organic molecules. It highlights the lack of clarity surrounding the range of repeated units that can be classified as an oligomer, and how this definition is field-dependent. The present study focused on PET cyclic oligomers and revealed that the progression of the ring length from smaller to longer oligomers followed the well-known odd-even effect. This phenomenon affects the physical and chemical properties of oligomers and can also be observed with analytical techniques such as differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), high resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS) and NMR. Similarities between PET and PBT oligomers were also observed, and an alternative potential definition for oligomers in the polymeric field is suggested based on physical behaviour of the longer cyclic oligomers. Full article
21 pages, 1718 KiB  
Review
Orchestrating Resilience: How Neuropilin-2 and Macrophages Contribute to Cardiothoracic Disease
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(5), 1446; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13051446 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Immunity has evolved to balance the destructive nature of inflammation with wound healing to overcome trauma, infection, environmental insults, and rogue malignant cells. The inflammatory response is marked by overlapping phases of initiation, resolution, and post-resolution remodeling. However, the disruption of these events [...] Read more.
Immunity has evolved to balance the destructive nature of inflammation with wound healing to overcome trauma, infection, environmental insults, and rogue malignant cells. The inflammatory response is marked by overlapping phases of initiation, resolution, and post-resolution remodeling. However, the disruption of these events can lead to prolonged tissue damage and organ dysfunction, resulting long-term disease states. Macrophages are the archetypic phagocytes present within all tissues and are important contributors to these processes. Pleiotropic and highly plastic in their responses, macrophages support tissue homeostasis, repair, and regeneration, all while balancing immunologic self-tolerance with the clearance of noxious stimuli, pathogens, and malignant threats. Neuropilin-2 (Nrp2), a promiscuous co-receptor for growth factors, semaphorins, and integrins, has increasingly been recognized for its unique role in tissue homeostasis and immune regulation. Notably, recent studies have begun to elucidate the role of Nrp2 in both non-hematopoietic cells and macrophages with cardiothoracic disease. Herein, we describe the unique role of Nrp2 in diseases of the heart and lung, with an emphasis on Nrp2 in macrophages, and explore the potential to target Nrp2 as a therapeutic intervention. Full article
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17 pages, 908 KiB  
Article
Exploring Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Aquatic Fauna of Lake Trasimeno (Italy): Insights from a Low-Anthropized Area
Toxics 2024, 12(3), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12030196 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
This study investigated the concentrations and profiles of 19 perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the muscle and liver of four freshwater species from Lake Trasimeno (Italy): Anguilla anguilla (European eel), Carassius auratus (goldfish), Perca fluviatilis (European perch), and Procambarus clarkii (red swamp crayfish). In [...] Read more.
This study investigated the concentrations and profiles of 19 perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the muscle and liver of four freshwater species from Lake Trasimeno (Italy): Anguilla anguilla (European eel), Carassius auratus (goldfish), Perca fluviatilis (European perch), and Procambarus clarkii (red swamp crayfish). In livers, the amount of PFASs ranged from 3.1 to 10 µg kg⁻¹, significantly higher than that in muscle (0.032–1.7 µg kg⁻¹). The predominant PFASs were perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and long-chain carboxylic acids (C8-C14). Short-chain compounds (C4-C5), as well as the long-chain sulfonic acids (C9-C12), were not quantified. The contamination patterns were similar among species with few differences, suggesting the influence of species-specific accumulation. The PFAS concentrations in livers were comparable among species, while in muscle, the higher values were measured in European eel, followed by goldfish, European perch, and red swamp crayfish. The levels were generally lower than those reported for fish from Northern Italian lakes and rivers. The concentrations of regulated PFASs were lower than the maximum limits set by Regulation EU 2023/915 and did not exceed the Environmental Quality Standards (PFOS in biota). This study provides the first valuable insights on PFASs in freshwater species from Lake Trasimeno. Full article
18 pages, 1119 KiB  
Article
A Practical Deep Learning Architecture for Large-Area Solid Wastes Monitoring Based on UAV Imagery
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2084; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052084 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
The development of global urbanization has brought about a significant amount of solid waste. These untreated wastes may be dumped in any corner, causing serious pollution to the environment. Thus, it is necessary to accurately obtain their distribution locations and detailed edge information. [...] Read more.
The development of global urbanization has brought about a significant amount of solid waste. These untreated wastes may be dumped in any corner, causing serious pollution to the environment. Thus, it is necessary to accurately obtain their distribution locations and detailed edge information. In this study, a practical deep learning network for recognizing solid waste piles over extensive areas using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery has been proposed and verified. Firstly, a high-resolution dataset serving to solid waste detection was created based on UAV aerial data. Then, a dual-branch solid waste semantic segmentation model was constructed to address the characteristics of the integration of solid waste distribution with the environment and the irregular edge morphology. The Context feature branch is responsible for extracting high-level semantic features, while the Spatial feature branch is designed to capture fine-grained spatial details. After information fusion, the model obtained more comprehensive feature representation and segmentation ability. The effectiveness of the improvement was verified through ablation experiments and compared with 13 commonly used semantic segmentation models, demonstrating the advantages of the method in solid waste segmentation tasks, with an overall accuracy of over 94%, and a recall rate of 88.6%—much better than the best performing baselines. Finally, a spatial distribution map of solid waste over Jiaxing district, China was generated by the model inference, which assisted the environmental protection department in completing environmental management. The proposed method provides a feasible approach for the accurately monitoring of solid waste, so as to provide policy support for environmental protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deep Learning in Satellite Remote Sensing Applications)
23 pages, 604 KiB  
Article
Comparing the Performance of Two Butcher-Based Block Hybrid Algorithms for the Solution of Initial Value Problems
Axioms 2024, 13(3), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/axioms13030165 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
In this paper, we compare the performances of two Butcher-based block hybrid methods for the numerical integration of initial value problems. We compare the condition numbers of the linear system of equations arising from both methods and the absolute errors of the solution [...] Read more.
In this paper, we compare the performances of two Butcher-based block hybrid methods for the numerical integration of initial value problems. We compare the condition numbers of the linear system of equations arising from both methods and the absolute errors of the solution obtained. The results of the numerical experiments illustrate that the better conditioned method outperformed its less conditioned counterpart based on the absolute errors. In addition, after applying our method on some examples, it was discovered that the absolute errors in this work were better than those of a recent study in the literature. Hence, we recommend this method for the numerical solution of stiff and non-stiff initial value problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Differential Equations and Related Topics)
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18 pages, 516 KiB  
Review
Trends in Physical Activity and Motor Development in Young People—Decline or Improvement? A Review
Children 2024, 11(3), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/children11030298 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
This paper aims to analyse studies and research conducted in EU and non-EU member states to identify and compare trends in physical activity and motor skills. Thus, a comparative overview of the state of the art in the two pre-pandemic decades that can [...] Read more.
This paper aims to analyse studies and research conducted in EU and non-EU member states to identify and compare trends in physical activity and motor skills. Thus, a comparative overview of the state of the art in the two pre-pandemic decades that can facilitate an understanding of the different territorial realities and training needs to be conducted, considering the different cultural situations. A scoping review was conducted by analysing a series of studies published between 1990 and 2022, including only those studies that collected data in the pre-pandemic period. The search was carried out on databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect. The following keywords were used for the acquisition of relevant studies: children, decline, motor skills, physical activity, and young people. From the literature review emerged clearly in all the longitudinal surveys a negative trend of body mass index (BMI), which was increasing in all the countries analysed, and cardiorespiratory fitness, which, in close relation to the increase in overweight levels, was in decline. If an unambiguous trend could be declared for the variables just mentioned, it was not possible to declare the same trend for the other variables analysed, which showed discordant results between the different countries. Full article
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15 pages, 757 KiB  
Article
Identification of MicroRNA Profiles in Fetal Spina Bifida: The Role in Pathomechanism and Diagnostic Significance
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(5), 2896; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25052896 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Distinct miRNA expression patterns may reflect anomalies related to fetal congenital malformations such as spinal bifida (SB). The aim of this preliminary study was to determine the maternal miRNA expression profile of women carrying fetuses with SB. Therefore, six women carrying fetuses with [...] Read more.
Distinct miRNA expression patterns may reflect anomalies related to fetal congenital malformations such as spinal bifida (SB). The aim of this preliminary study was to determine the maternal miRNA expression profile of women carrying fetuses with SB. Therefore, six women carrying fetuses with SB and twenty women with euploid healthy fetuses were enrolled in this study. Using NanoString technology, we evaluated the expression level of 798 miRNAs in both plasma and amniotic fluid samples. A downregulation of miR-1253, miR-1290, miR-194-5p, miR-302d-3p, miR-3144-3p, miR-4536-5p, miR-548aa + miR-548t-3p, miR-548ar-5p, miR-548n, miR-590-5p, miR-612, miR-627-5p, miR-644a, and miR-122-5p, and an upregulation of miR-320e, let-7b-5p, miR-23a-3p, miR-873-3p, and miR-30d-5p were identified in maternal amniotic fluid samples in SB when compared to the control group. The target genes of these miRNAs play a predominant role in regulating the synthesis of several biological compounds related to signaling pathways such as those regulating the pluripotency of stem cells. Moreover, the maternal plasma expression of miR-320e was increased in pregnancies with SB, and this marker could serve as a valuable non-invasive screening tool. Our results highlight the SB-specific miRNA signature and the differentially expressed miRNAs that may be involved in SB pathogenesis. Our findings emphasize the role of miRNA as a predictive factor that could potentially be useful in prenatal genetic screening for SB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics)
12 pages, 3928 KiB  
Article
Variation of Soil Bacterial Communities in Forest Soil Contaminated with Chainsaw Lubricants
Microorganisms 2024, 12(3), 508; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12030508 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Pollutants can exist in the soil for a long time and alter the bacterial community. Using lubricants to prevent the wear of chainsaw blades is necessary for thinning activities and wood harvesting. We investigated the influences of soil contamination with chainsaw lubricants on [...] Read more.
Pollutants can exist in the soil for a long time and alter the bacterial community. Using lubricants to prevent the wear of chainsaw blades is necessary for thinning activities and wood harvesting. We investigated the influences of soil contamination with chainsaw lubricants on soil bacterial communities. Bio-oil, mineral oil, and recycled oil were scattered on each treatment to investigate variations in soil bacterial structure during treated periods using the Illumina MiSeq sequencing platform. The results obtained were 5943 ASVs, 5112 ASVs, and 6136 ASVs after treatment at one month, six months, and twelve months, respectively. There was a significant difference in Shannon and Simpson indices between treatments and controls. A total of 46 bacterial genera with an average relative abundance of more than 1.0% were detected in all soil samples. Massilia was the most common genus detected in control at one month, with an average relative abundance of 14.99%, while Chthoniobacter was the most abundant genus detected in bio-oil, mineral oil, and recycled oil treatments at one month, with an average relative abundance of 13.39%, 14.32%, and 10.47%, respectively. Among the three chainsaw lubricants, bio-oil and mineral oil had fewer impacts than recycled oil. The abundances of several functional bacteria groups in the bio-oil treatment were higher than in other treatments and controls. Our results indicated that different chainsaw lubricants and their time of application affected the soil bacterial community composition. Full article
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27 pages, 2663 KiB  
Article
Insight into the Relationship between the Causes of Off-Odour and Microorganism Communities in Xuanwei Ham
Foods 2024, 13(5), 776; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13050776 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
To expound on the correlation between the microorganism communities and the formation of off-odour in Xuanwei ham, the microorganism communities and volatile compounds were investigated in the biceps femoris (BF) and semimembranosus (SM) of Xuanwei ham with different quality grades (normal ham and [...] Read more.
To expound on the correlation between the microorganism communities and the formation of off-odour in Xuanwei ham, the microorganism communities and volatile compounds were investigated in the biceps femoris (BF) and semimembranosus (SM) of Xuanwei ham with different quality grades (normal ham and spoiled ham). The single molecule real-time sequencing showed that differential bacteria and fungi were more varied in normal hams than in spoiled hams. Headspace solid-phase microextraction–gas chromatography (HS-SPME-GC-MS) results indicated that aldehydes and alcohols were significantly higher in spoiled hams than those in normal hams (p < 0.05). The off-odour of spoiled hams was dominated by ichthyic, malodourous, sweaty, putrid, sour, and unpleasant odours produced by compounds such as trimethylamine (SM: 13.05 μg/kg), hexanal (BF: 206.46 μg/kg), octanal (BF: 59.52 μg/kg), methanethiol (SM: 12.85 μg/kg), and valeric acid (BF: 15.08 μg/kg), which are positively correlated with Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Pseudomonas sp., Aspergillus ruber, and Moraxella osloensis. Furthermore, the physicochemical property and quality characteristics results showed that high moisture (BF: 56.32 g/100 g), pH (BF: 6.63), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) (SM: 1.98 MDA/kg), and low NaCl content (SM: 6.31%) were also responsible for the spoilage of hams with off-odour. This study provided a deep insight into the off-odour of Xuanwei ham from the perspective of microorganism communities and a theoretical basis for improving the flavour and overall quality of Xuanwei hams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meat Quality and Microbial Analysis II)
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49 pages, 2296 KiB  
Review
Sustainable Vehicles for Decarbonizing the Transport Sector: A Comparison of Biofuel, Electric, Fuel Cell and Solar-Powered Vehicles
World Electr. Veh. J. 2024, 15(3), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/wevj15030093 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Climate change necessitates urgent action to decarbonize the transport sector. Sustainable vehicles represent crucial alternatives to traditional combustion engines. This study comprehensively compares four prominent sustainable vehicle technologies: biofuel-powered vehicles (BPVs), fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), electric vehicles (EVs), and solar vehicles. We examine [...] Read more.
Climate change necessitates urgent action to decarbonize the transport sector. Sustainable vehicles represent crucial alternatives to traditional combustion engines. This study comprehensively compares four prominent sustainable vehicle technologies: biofuel-powered vehicles (BPVs), fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), electric vehicles (EVs), and solar vehicles. We examine each technology’s history, development, classification, key components, and operational principles. Furthermore, we assess their sustainability through technical factors, environmental impacts, cost considerations, and policy dimensions. Moreover, the discussion section addresses the challenges and opportunities associated with each technology and assesses their social impact, including public perception and adoption. Each technology offers promise for sustainable transportation but faces unique challenges. Policymakers, industry stakeholders, and researchers must collaborate to address these challenges and accelerate the transition toward a decarbonized transport future. Potential future research areas are identified to guide advancements in sustainable vehicle technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hybrid Electric Fuel Cell-Based Vehicles)
14 pages, 6839 KiB  
Article
Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold & Zucc.) Endl. Leaf Essential Oil
Molecules 2024, 29(5), 1117; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29051117 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold & Zucc.) Endl. (C. obtusa) belongs to the Cupressaceae family and is native to East Asian regions. Essential oils extracted from the leaves, bark, branches, and roots of C. obtusa have both aesthetic and medicinal properties and are [...] Read more.
Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold & Zucc.) Endl. (C. obtusa) belongs to the Cupressaceae family and is native to East Asian regions. Essential oils extracted from the leaves, bark, branches, and roots of C. obtusa have both aesthetic and medicinal properties and are thus widely used. However, detailed analyses of the active ingredients of C. obtusa extract are lacking. In this study, the sabinene content in the hydro-distillation of C. obtusa leaf essential oil (COD) was analyzed using GC-MS, and the anti-inflammatory effect of COD was compared with that of pure sabinene. Cell viability was evaluated by MTT assay, and nitric oxide (NO) production was measured using Griess reagent. Relative mRNA and protein levels were analyzed using RT-qPCR and western blot, and secreted cytokines were analyzed using a cytokine array kit. The results showed that both COD and sabinene inhibited the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and the phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced RAW 264.7 cells. COD and sabinene also reduced the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-27, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The anti-inflammatory mechanisms of COD and sabinene partially overlap, as COD was shown to inhibit MAPKs and the JAK/STAT axis, and sabinene inhibited MAPKs, thereby preventing LPS-induced macrophage activation. Full article
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43 pages, 1800 KiB  
Review
Advancements in Photovoltaic Cell Materials: Silicon, Organic, and Perovskite Solar Cells
Materials 2024, 17(5), 1165; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma17051165 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
The evolution of photovoltaic cells is intrinsically linked to advancements in the materials from which they are fabricated. This review paper provides an in-depth analysis of the latest developments in silicon-based, organic, and perovskite solar cells, which are at the forefront of photovoltaic [...] Read more.
The evolution of photovoltaic cells is intrinsically linked to advancements in the materials from which they are fabricated. This review paper provides an in-depth analysis of the latest developments in silicon-based, organic, and perovskite solar cells, which are at the forefront of photovoltaic research. We scrutinize the unique characteristics, advantages, and limitations of each material class, emphasizing their contributions to efficiency, stability, and commercial viability. Silicon-based cells are explored for their enduring relevance and recent innovations in crystalline structures. Organic photovoltaic cells are examined for their flexibility and potential for low-cost production, while perovskites are highlighted for their remarkable efficiency gains and ease of fabrication. The paper also addresses the challenges of material stability, scalability, and environmental impact, offering a balanced perspective on the current state and future potential of these material technologies. Full article
26 pages, 5004 KiB  
Review
Canine Mammary Tumors: Classification, Biomarkers, Traditional and Personalized Therapies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(5), 2891; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25052891 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
In recent years, many studies have focused their attention on the dog as a proper animal model for human cancer. In dogs, mammary tumors develop spontaneously, involving a complex interplay between tumor cells and the immune system and revealing several molecular and clinical [...] Read more.
In recent years, many studies have focused their attention on the dog as a proper animal model for human cancer. In dogs, mammary tumors develop spontaneously, involving a complex interplay between tumor cells and the immune system and revealing several molecular and clinical similarities to human breast cancer. In this review, we summarized the major features of canine mammary tumor, risk factors, and the most important biomarkers used for diagnosis and treatment. Traditional therapy of mammary tumors in dogs includes surgery, which is the first choice, followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or hormonal therapy. However, these therapeutic strategies may not always be sufficient on their own; advancements in understanding cancer mechanisms and the development of innovative treatments offer hope for improved outcomes for oncologic patients. There is still a growing interest in the use of personalized medicine, which should play an irreplaceable role in the research not only in human cancer therapy, but also in veterinary oncology. Moreover, immunotherapy may represent a novel and promising therapeutic option in canine mammary cancers. The study of novel therapeutic approaches is essential for future research in both human and veterinary oncology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Oncology)
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25 pages, 862 KiB  
Article
Global Solar Radiation and Its Interactions with Atmospheric Substances and Their Effects on Air Temperature Change in Ankara Province
Climate 2024, 12(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli12030035 (registering DOI) - 01 Mar 2024
Abstract
On the analysis of solar radiation and meteorological variables measured in Ankara province in Türkiye from 2017 to 2018, an empirical model of global solar radiation was developed. The global solar radiation at the ground and at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) [...] Read more.
On the analysis of solar radiation and meteorological variables measured in Ankara province in Türkiye from 2017 to 2018, an empirical model of global solar radiation was developed. The global solar radiation at the ground and at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) was calculated and in good agreement with the observations. This model was applied to compute the losses of global solar radiation in the atmosphere and the contributions by atmospheric absorbing and scattering substances. The loss of global solar radiation in the atmosphere was dominated by the absorbing substances. The sensitivity test showed that global solar radiation was more sensitive to changes in scattering (described by a scattering factor S/G, S and G are diffuse and global solar radiation, respectively) than to changes in absorption. This empirical model was applied to calculate the albedos at the TOA and the surface. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the computed albedos were 28.8%, 27.8%, and 28.2% at the TOA and 21.6%, 22.1%, and 21.9% at the surface, which were in reasonable agreement with satellite retrievals. The empirical model is a useful tool for studying global solar radiation and the multiple interactions between solar energy and atmospheric substances. The comparisons of global solar radiation and its loss in the atmosphere, as well as meteorological parameters, were made at some representative sites on the Earth. Some internal relationships (between G and the absorbing and scattering substances, air temperature and atmospheric substances, air temperature increase and latitude, etc.) were found. Thus, it is suggested to thoroughly study solar radiation, atmospheric substances, and climate change as a whole system and reduce the direct emissions of all atmospheric substances and, subsequently, secondary products (e.g., CO2 and non-CO2) in the atmosphere for the achievement of slowing down climate warming. Full article

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