The 2023 MDPI Annual Report has
been released!
 
24 pages, 2217 KiB  
Article
Design, Fabrication, and Evaluation of 3D Biopotential Electrodes and Intelligent Garment System for Sports Monitoring
by Deyao Shen, Jianping Wang, Vladan Koncar, Krittika Goyal and Xuyuan Tao
Sensors 2024, 24(13), 4114; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24134114 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
This study presents the development and evaluation of an innovative intelligent garment system, incorporating 3D knitted silver biopotential electrodes, designed for long-term sports monitoring. By integrating advanced textile engineering with wearable monitoring technologies, we introduce a novel approach to real-time physiological signal acquisition, [...] Read more.
This study presents the development and evaluation of an innovative intelligent garment system, incorporating 3D knitted silver biopotential electrodes, designed for long-term sports monitoring. By integrating advanced textile engineering with wearable monitoring technologies, we introduce a novel approach to real-time physiological signal acquisition, focusing on enhancing athletic performance analysis and fatigue detection. Utilizing low-resistance silver fibers, our electrodes demonstrate significantly reduced skin-to-electrode impedance, facilitating improved signal quality and reliability, especially during physical activities. The garment system, embedded with these electrodes, offers a non-invasive, comfortable solution for continuous ECG and EMG monitoring, addressing the limitations of traditional Ag/AgCl electrodes, such as skin irritation and signal degradation over time. Through various experimentation, including impedance measurements and biosignal acquisition during cycling activities, we validate the system’s effectiveness in capturing high-quality physiological data. Our findings illustrate the electrodes’ superior performance in both dry and wet conditions. This study not only advances the field of intelligent garments and biopotential monitoring, but also provides valuable insights for the application of intelligent sports wearables in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wearables)
14 pages, 1080 KiB  
Article
Antioxidant Capacity, Phytochemicals, Minerals, and Chemical Pollutants in Worker Honey Bee (Apis mellifera L.) Broods from Northern Thailand: A Safe and Sustainable Food Source
by Phannika Tongchai, Sumed Yadoung, Kunrunya Sutan, Saweang Kawichai, Khanchai Danmek, Jakkrawut Maitip, Sampat Ghosh, Chuleui Jung, Bajaree Chuttong and Surat Hongsibsong
Foods 2024, 13(13), 1998; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13131998 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Honey bee brood (HBB) (Apis mellifera L.), a traditional protein source, has been studied for its nutritional value, but bio-functional properties and safety concerns have not been verified. This study examined the Antioxidant capacity, phytochemicals, minerals, and chemical pollutants in worker [...] Read more.
Honey bee brood (HBB) (Apis mellifera L.), a traditional protein source, has been studied for its nutritional value, but bio-functional properties and safety concerns have not been verified. This study examined the Antioxidant capacity, phytochemicals, minerals, and chemical pollutants in worker broods from several apiaries in Northern Thailand. HBB samples were lyophilized to evaluate antioxidant capacity using ABTS, DPPH, and FRAP assays, tests with water, and 70% ethanol extracts. Phytochemicals were identified using LC-QTOF-MS; pollutants were analyzed chromatographically, and minerals were determined using ICP-OES. The results showed that the evaluated antioxidant capacity of the ethanol extracts included DPPH 2.04–3.37 mg/mL, ABTS 21.22–33.91 mg/mL, and FRAP 50.07–104.15 mg AAE/100 g dry weight. Water extracts had outstanding antioxidant activities except for ABTS, with DPPH 10.67–84.97 mg/mL, ABTS 9.25–13.54 mg/mL, and FRAP 57.66–177.32 mgAAE/100 g dry weight. Total phenolics and flavonoids in ethanol extracts ranged from 488.95–508.87 GAE/100 g to 4.7–12.98 mg QE/g dry weight, respectively. Thirteen phytochemicals were detected and contained adequate mineral contents in the HBBs from different locations found, which were K, Ca, Mg, and Na, and no heavy metals or pollutants exceeded safe levels. These results imply that HBB from different apiaries in Northern Thailand is a nutritious food source with considerable antioxidants and a safe and sustainable food source. Full article
29 pages, 17115 KiB  
Article
Optimizing Rolling Strategies for API 5L X80 Steel Heavy Plates Produced by Thermomechanical Processing in a Reversible Single-Stand Mill
by Luiz Gustavo de Oliveira Abreu, Geraldo Lúcio de Faria, Ricardo José de Faria, Daniel Bojikian Matsubara and Rodrigo Rangel Porcaro
Metals 2024, 14(7), 746; https://doi.org/10.3390/met14070746 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
This study focuses on advancing the production of predominantly bainitic heavy plates to meet the API 5L X80 standard. The investigation involves a thorough evaluation of the influence of rolling parameters and austenite conditioning on both microstructural characteristics and mechanical properties. Accurate specifications [...] Read more.
This study focuses on advancing the production of predominantly bainitic heavy plates to meet the API 5L X80 standard. The investigation involves a thorough evaluation of the influence of rolling parameters and austenite conditioning on both microstructural characteristics and mechanical properties. Accurate specifications for chemical composition, processing temperatures, and mean deformations were established using mathematical models and bibliographical references. Four rolling conditions were performed in a reversible single-stand mill, allowing for comprehensive comparison and critical analysis. Microstructural and mechanical characterizations were performed utilizing several techniques, including optical microscopy (OM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), tensile tests, Charpy impact tests, and hardness tests to ensure adherence to API 5L standards. Additionally, the SEM-EBSD (electron backscattered diffraction) technique was employed for a complementary analysis. The EBSD analysis included crystallographic misorientation maps, mean kernel misorientation parameters (𝜗), low- and high-angle grains boundaries, mean equivalent diameter, and evaluation of the contribution of different strengthening mechanisms to yield strength. Results underscored the significant influence of austenite conditioning on both microstructure and mechanical properties. Considering the specificities of a reversible single-stand mill, it was concluded that, unlike the classic approach for ferritic or ferritic–pearlitic HSLA (high-strength low-alloy steel), when a product with a predominantly bainitic microstructure is required, the accumulated deformation in the austenite during the finishing rolling stage, as well as its temperature, must be meticulously controlled. It was shown that the greater the deformation and the lower the temperature, the more favorable the scenario for the undesired polygonal ferrite formation, which will deteriorate the material’s performance. Furthermore, an optimized production route was identified and adapted to the specificities of the employed rolling mill. The presented data have great importance for researchers, manufacturers, and users of API 5L X80 heavy plates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Metal Casting, Forming and Heat Treatment)
26 pages, 12729 KiB  
Article
Study on Mechanical and Acoustic Emission Characteristics of Backfill–Rock Instability under Different Stress Conditions
by Longjun Dong, Mingchun Yan, Yongchao Chen, Longbin Yang and Daoyuan Sun
Sensors 2024, 24(13), 4112; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24134112 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Unveiling the mechanical properties and damage mechanism of the complex composite structure, comprising backfill and surrounding rock, is crucial for ensuring the safe development of the downward-approach backfill mining method. This work conducts biaxial compression tests on backfill–rock under various loading conditions. The [...] Read more.
Unveiling the mechanical properties and damage mechanism of the complex composite structure, comprising backfill and surrounding rock, is crucial for ensuring the safe development of the downward-approach backfill mining method. This work conducts biaxial compression tests on backfill–rock under various loading conditions. The damage process is analyzed using DIC and acoustic emission (AE) techniques, while the distribution of AE events at different loading stages is explored. Additionally, the dominant failure forms of specimens are studied through multifractal analysis. The damage evolution law of backfill–rock combinations is elucidated. The results indicate that DIC and AE provide consistent descriptions of specimen damage, and the damage evolution of backfill–rock composite specimens varies notably under different loading conditions, offering valuable insights for engineering site safety protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Navigation and Positioning)
18 pages, 1351 KiB  
Article
Study on Temporal and Spatial Distribution of Landslides in the Upper Reaches of the Yellow River
by Zongren Li, Sailajia Wei, Kai Wu, Yonglian Sha, Xing Zhang, Delin Li, Rongfang Xin and Peng Guan
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(13), 5488; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14135488 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
The geological structure of the upper reaches of the Yellow River is complex, especially in the Sigouxia-Laganxia section. It has always been a high-incidence area of landslide disasters, which poses a threat to the safe operation of the upper reaches of the Yellow [...] Read more.
The geological structure of the upper reaches of the Yellow River is complex, especially in the Sigouxia-Laganxia section. It has always been a high-incidence area of landslide disasters, which poses a threat to the safe operation of the upper reaches of the Yellow River. In this study, based on the high-precision remote sensing image data, the spatial distribution of each landslide was obtained by superimposing the remote sensing image and the 1:50,000 digital elevation model (DEM). Some typical landslides were selected for detailed field investigation and field verification. The results show that the remote sensing image characteristics of landslides in the upper reaches of the Yellow River are obvious. Through remote sensing interpretation and field investigation, a total of 508 landslides of various types were found, including 24 giant landslides. The spatial spreading patterns of landslides mainly include six types: dumb-bell shape, rectangle, saddle type, long arc shape, triangle, and side-by-side shape. The length and width of the landslide deposit are mainly concentrated at 550–1500 m and 600–1500 m, and the average elevation of the sliding body is mainly concentrated between 2000 and 2800 m. The average slope of the landslide is mainly distributed between 15–20°. Giant landslides are mainly distributed in the Jianzha basin area, surrounded by the Jishishan fault and the Lajishan fault in the West Qinling Mountains. The spatial distribution characteristics of giant landslides have obvious regional differences due to different factors such as lithologic differences and riverside erosion. The research results are of great significance for the early identification, prevention, and mitigation of landslide disasters in the upper reaches of the Yellow River. Full article
33 pages, 2599 KiB  
Article
The Role of EU Transport Market Liberalization in Shaping Directions of Rail Energy Consumption Rationalization in Relation to the Export of Goods: The Case of Poland
by Elżbieta Szaruga, Elżbieta Załoga, Arkadiusz Drewnowski, Sylwia Kowalska and Paulina Dąbrosz-Drewnowska
Energies 2024, 17(13), 3118; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17133118 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
This article discusses the impact of rail market liberalization on the energy intensity of rail in relation to the export of goods, as well as the identification of multidimensional cause-and-effect relationships between rail energy intensity and the importing country’s economic condition, transport performance, [...] Read more.
This article discusses the impact of rail market liberalization on the energy intensity of rail in relation to the export of goods, as well as the identification of multidimensional cause-and-effect relationships between rail energy intensity and the importing country’s economic condition, transport performance, and transport distance. Three research questions were formulated: (1) Does the liberalization of the EU transport market and the implementation of a sustainable transport policy contribute to minimizing the energy consumption of rail transport? (2) Does the pursuit of economic growth allow for reducing the energy intensity of goods exported by rail transport in global trade? (3) Is there a justified paradigm for shifting long-distance freight transport from roads to rail? This study concerned 21 directions of the export of goods transported by rail from Poland to partner countries (worldwide) in 2010–2020. A panel model of rail transport energy consumption with random effects was constructed. As a result of rail market liberalization, the export of goods transported by rail across great distances occurs without harming economic development and leads to a reduction in energy intensity. On this basis, key strategies were formulated to promote rail transport in reducing the energy intensity of the transport sector. The authors filled the research gap by identifying the relationship between the energy intensity of exports of goods by rail transport in value terms, depending on the European transport market’s liberalization process, the importing countries’ economic situation, transport volume, and distance. The presented approach is innovative and can be adapted to the analysis of other modes of transport, including road transport, and other countries (and their structure and export directions). Full article
22 pages, 54909 KiB  
Article
DriveLLaVA: Human-Level Behavior Decisions via Vision Language Model
by Rui Zhao, Qirui Yuan, Jinyu Li, Yuze Fan, Yun Li and Fei Gao
Sensors 2024, 24(13), 4113; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24134113 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Human-level driving is the ultimate goal of autonomous driving. As the top-level decision-making aspect of autonomous driving, behavior decision establishes short-term driving behavior strategies by evaluating road structures, adhering to traffic rules, and analyzing the intentions of other traffic participants. Existing behavior decisions [...] Read more.
Human-level driving is the ultimate goal of autonomous driving. As the top-level decision-making aspect of autonomous driving, behavior decision establishes short-term driving behavior strategies by evaluating road structures, adhering to traffic rules, and analyzing the intentions of other traffic participants. Existing behavior decisions are primarily implemented based on rule-based methods, exhibiting insufficient generalization capabilities when faced with new and unseen driving scenarios. In this paper, we propose a novel behavior decision method that leverages the inherent generalization and commonsense reasoning abilities of visual language models (VLMs) to learn and simulate the behavior decision process in human driving. We constructed a novel instruction-following dataset containing a large number of image–text instructions paired with corresponding driving behavior labels, to support the learning of the Drive Large Language and Vision Assistant (DriveLLaVA) and enhance the transparency and interpretability of the entire decision process. DriveLLaVA is fine-tuned on this dataset using the Low-Rank Adaptation (LoRA) approach, which efficiently optimizes the model parameter count and significantly reduces training costs. We conducted extensive experiments on a large-scale instruction-following dataset, and compared with state-of-the-art methods, DriveLLaVA demonstrated excellent behavior decision performance. DriveLLaVA is capable of handling various complex driving scenarios, showing strong robustness and generalization abilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Vehicular Sensing)
19 pages, 1039 KiB  
Article
Mean-Reverting Statistical Arbitrage Strategies in Crude Oil Markets
by Viviana Fanelli
Risks 2024, 12(7), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/risks12070106 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
In this paper, we introduce the concept of statistical arbitrage through the definition of a mean-reverting trading strategy that captures persistent anomalies in long-run relationships among assets. We model the statistical arbitrage proceeding in three steps: (1) to identify mispricings in the chosen [...] Read more.
In this paper, we introduce the concept of statistical arbitrage through the definition of a mean-reverting trading strategy that captures persistent anomalies in long-run relationships among assets. We model the statistical arbitrage proceeding in three steps: (1) to identify mispricings in the chosen market, (2) to test mean-reverting statistical arbitrage, and (3) to develop statistical arbitrage trading strategies. We empirically investigate the existence of statistical arbitrage opportunities in crude oil markets. In particular, we focus on long-term pricing relationships between the West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures and a so-called statistical portfolio, composed by other two crude oils, Brent and Dubai. Firstly, the cointegration regression is used to track the persistent pricing equilibrium between the West Texas Intermediate crude oil price and the statistical portfolio value, and to identify mispricings between the two. Secondly, we verify that mispricing dynamics revert back to equilibrium with a predictable behaviour, and we exploit this stylized fact by applying the trading rules commonly used in equity markets to the crude oil market. The trading performance is then measured by three specific profit indicators on out-of-sample data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Portfolio Theory, Financial Risk Analysis and Applications)
27 pages, 13920 KiB  
Article
A Study on the Promoting Role of Renewable Hydrogen in the Transformation of Petroleum Refining Pathways
by Xiaofei Shi, Gang Wang, Xiaolin Wang and Bo Chen
Processes 2024, 12(7), 1317; https://doi.org/10.3390/pr12071317 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
The refining industry is shifting from decarbonization to hydrogenation for processing heavy fractions to reduce pollution and improve efficiency. However, the carbon footprint of hydrogen production presents significant environmental challenges. This study couples refinery linear programming models with life cycle assessment to evaluate, [...] Read more.
The refining industry is shifting from decarbonization to hydrogenation for processing heavy fractions to reduce pollution and improve efficiency. However, the carbon footprint of hydrogen production presents significant environmental challenges. This study couples refinery linear programming models with life cycle assessment to evaluate, from a long-term perspective, the role of low-carbon hydrogen in promoting sustainable and profitable hydrogenation refining practices. Eight hydrogen-production pathways were examined, including those based on fossil fuels and renewable energy, providing hydrogen for three representative refineries adopting hydrogenation, decarbonization, and co-processing routes. Learning curves were used to predict future hydrogen cost trends. Currently, hydrogenation refineries using fossil fuels benefit from significant cost advantages in hydrogen production, demonstrating optimal economic performance. However, in the long term, with increasing carbon taxes, hydrogenation routes will be affected by the high carbon emissions associated with fossil-based hydrogen, losing economic advantages compared to decarbonization pathways. With increasing installed capacity and technological advancements, low-carbon hydrogen is anticipated to reach cost parity with fossil-based hydrogen before 2060. Coupling renewable hydrogen is expected to yield the most significant economic advantages for hydrogenation refineries in the long term. Renewable hydrogen drives the transition of refining processing routes from a decarbonization-oriented approach to a hydrogenation-oriented paradigm, resulting in cleaner refining processes and enhanced competitiveness under emission-reduction pressures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Processes)
20 pages, 515 KiB  
Review
Progress on a Carbon Nanotube Field-Effect Transistor Integrated Circuit: State of the Art, Challenges, and Evolution
by Zhifeng Chen, Jiming Chen, Wenli Liao, Yuan Zhao, Jianhua Jiang and Chengying Chen
Micromachines 2024, 15(7), 817; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070817 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
As the traditional silicon-based CMOS technology advances into the nanoscale stage, approaching its physical limits, the Carbon Nanotube Field-effect Transistor (CNTFET) is considered to be the most significant transistor technology beyond Moore’s era. The CNTFET has a quasi-one-dimensional structure so that the carrier [...] Read more.
As the traditional silicon-based CMOS technology advances into the nanoscale stage, approaching its physical limits, the Carbon Nanotube Field-effect Transistor (CNTFET) is considered to be the most significant transistor technology beyond Moore’s era. The CNTFET has a quasi-one-dimensional structure so that the carrier can realize ballistic transport and has very high mobility. At the same time, a single CNTFET can integrate hundreds of nanowires as the conductive channels, enabling significant current transport capabilities even in low supply voltage, thereby providing a foundational basis for achieving nanoscale ultra-large-scale analog/logic circuits. This paper summarizes the development status of the CNTFET compact model and digital/analog/RF integrated circuits. The challenges faced by SPICE modeling and circuit design are analyzed. Meanwhile, solutions to these challenges and development trends of carbon-based transistors are discussed. Finally, the future application prospects of carbon-based integrated circuits are presented. Full article
23 pages, 22636 KiB  
Article
Multi-Step Physics-Informed Deep Operator Neural Network for Directly Solving Partial Differential Equations
by Jing Wang, Yubo Li, Anping Wu, Zheng Chen, Jun Huang, Qingfeng Wang and Feng Liu
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(13), 5490; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14135490 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
This paper establishes a method for solving partial differential equations using a multi-step physics-informed deep operator neural network. The network is trained by embedding physics-informed constraints. Different from traditional neural networks for solving partial differential equations, the proposed method uses a deep neural [...] Read more.
This paper establishes a method for solving partial differential equations using a multi-step physics-informed deep operator neural network. The network is trained by embedding physics-informed constraints. Different from traditional neural networks for solving partial differential equations, the proposed method uses a deep neural operator network to indirectly construct the mapping relationship between the variable functions and solution functions. This approach makes full use of the hidden information between the variable functions and independent variables. The process whereby the model captures incredibly complex and highly nonlinear relationships is simplified, thereby making network learning easier and enhancing the extraction of information about the independent variables in partial differential systems. In terms of solving partial differential equations, we verify that the multi-step physics-informed deep operator neural network markedly improves the solution accuracy compared with a traditional physics-informed deep neural operator network, especially when the problem involves complex physical phenomena with large gradient changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Applied Physics General)
35 pages, 697 KiB  
Review
Transporter Proteins as Therapeutic Drug Targets—With a Focus on SGLT2 Inhibitors
by Nina Komaniecka, Sonia Maroszek, Maria Drozdzik, Stefan Oswald and Marek Drozdzik
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(13), 6926; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25136926 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Membrane transporters interact not only with endogenous substrates but are also engaged in the transport of xenobiotics, including drugs. While the coordinated function of uptake (solute carrier family—SLC and SLCO) and efflux (ATP-binding cassette family—ABC, multidrug and toxic compound extrusion family—MATE) transporter system [...] Read more.
Membrane transporters interact not only with endogenous substrates but are also engaged in the transport of xenobiotics, including drugs. While the coordinated function of uptake (solute carrier family—SLC and SLCO) and efflux (ATP-binding cassette family—ABC, multidrug and toxic compound extrusion family—MATE) transporter system allows vectorial drug transport, efflux carriers alone achieve barrier functions. The modulation of transport functions was proved to be effective in the treatment strategies of various pathological states. Sodium–glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are the drugs most widely applied in clinical practice, especially in the treatment of diabetes mellitus and heart failure. Sodium taurocholate co-transporting polypeptide (NTCP) serves as virus particles (HBV/HDV) carrier, and inhibition of its function is applied in the treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis D by myrcludex B. Inherited cholestatic diseases, such as Alagille syndrome (ALGS) and progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) can be treated by odevixibat and maralixibat, which inhibit activity of apical sodium-dependent bile salt transporter (ASBT). Probenecid can be considered to increase uric acid excretion in the urine mainly via the inhibition of urate transporter 1 (URAT1), and due to pharmacokinetic interactions involving organic anion transporters 1 and 3 (OAT1 and OAT3), it modifies renal excretion of penicillins or ciprofloxacin as well as nephrotoxicity of cidofovir. This review discusses clinically approved drugs that affect membrane/drug transporter function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Pharmacology)
26 pages, 3685 KiB  
Article
Influence of Confining Element Stiffness on the In-Plane Seismic Performance of Confined Masonry Walls
by Muhammad Mubashir Ajmal, Asad Ullah Qazi, Ali Ahmed, Ubaid Ahmad Mughal, Syed Minhaj Saleem Kazmi and Muhammad Junaid Munir
Materials 2024, 17(13), 3100; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma17133100 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Confined masonry (CM) construction is being increasingly adopted for its cost-effectiveness and simplicity, particularly in seismic zones. Despite its known benefits, limited research exists on how the stiffness of confining elements influences the in-plane behavior of CM. This study conducted a comprehensive parametric [...] Read more.
Confined masonry (CM) construction is being increasingly adopted for its cost-effectiveness and simplicity, particularly in seismic zones. Despite its known benefits, limited research exists on how the stiffness of confining elements influences the in-plane behavior of CM. This study conducted a comprehensive parametric analysis using experimentally validated numerical models of single-wythe, squat CM wall panels under quasi-static reverse cyclic loading. Various cross-sections and reinforcement ratios were examined to assess the impact of the confining element stiffness on the deformation response, the cracking mechanism, and the hysteretic behavior. The key findings included the observation of symmetrical hysteresis in experimental CM panels under cyclic loading, with a peak lateral strength of 114.3 kN and 108.5 kN in push-and-pull load cycles against 1.7% and 1.3% drift indexes, respectively. A finite element (FE) model was developed based on a simplified micro-modeling approach, demonstrating a maximum discrepancy of 2.6% in the peak lateral load strength and 5.4% in the initial stiffness compared to the experimental results. The parametric study revealed significant improvements in the initial stiffness and seismic strength with increased depth and reinforcement in the confining elements. For instance, a 35% increase in the lateral strength was observed when the depth of the confining columns was augmented from 150 mm to 300 mm. Similarly, increasing the steel reinforcement percentage from 0.17% to 0.78% resulted in a 16.5% enhancement in the seismic strength. These findings highlight the critical role of the stiffness of confining elements in enhancing the seismic performance of CM walls. This study provides valuable design insights for optimizing CM construction in seismic-prone areas, particularly regarding the effects of confining element dimensions and reinforcement ratios on the structural resilience. Full article
26 pages, 3674 KiB  
Article
StructuredFuzzer: Fuzzing Structured Text-Based Control Logic Applications
by Koffi Anderson Koffi, Vyron Kampourakis, Jia Song, Constantinos Kolias and Robert C. Ivans
Electronics 2024, 13(13), 2475; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13132475 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Rigorous testing methods are essential for ensuring the security and reliability of industrial controller software. Fuzzing, a technique that automatically discovers software bugs, has also proven effective in finding software vulnerabilities. Unsurprisingly, fuzzing has been applied to a wide range of platforms, including [...] Read more.
Rigorous testing methods are essential for ensuring the security and reliability of industrial controller software. Fuzzing, a technique that automatically discovers software bugs, has also proven effective in finding software vulnerabilities. Unsurprisingly, fuzzing has been applied to a wide range of platforms, including programmable logic controllers (PLCs). However, current approaches, such as coverage-guided evolutionary fuzzing implemented in the popular fuzzer American Fuzzy Lop Plus Plus (AFL++), are often inadequate for finding logical errors and bugs in PLC control logic applications. They primarily target generic programming languages like C/C++, Java, and Python, and do not consider the unique characteristics and behaviors of PLCs, which are often programmed using specialized programming languages like Structured Text (ST). Furthermore, these fuzzers are ill suited to deal with complex input structures encapsulated in ST, as they are not specifically designed to generate appropriate input sequences. This renders the application of traditional fuzzing techniques less efficient on these platforms. To address this issue, this paper presents a fuzzing framework designed explicitly for PLC software to discover logic bugs in applications written in ST specified by the IEC 61131-3 standard. The proposed framework incorporates a custom-tailored PLC runtime and a fuzzer designed for the purpose. We demonstrate its effectiveness by fuzzing a collection of ST programs that were crafted for evaluation purposes. We compare the performance against a popular fuzzer, namely, AFL++. The proposed fuzzing framework demonstrated its capabilities in our experiments, successfully detecting logic bugs in the tested PLC control logic applications written in ST. On average, it was at least 83 times faster than AFL++, and in certain cases, for example, it was more than 23,000 times faster. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Retrieval and Cyber Forensics with Data Science)
24 pages, 5581 KiB  
Article
Experimental Research on Crack Resistance of Steel–Polyvinyl Alcohol Hybrid Fiber-Reinforced Concrete
by Jingjiang Wu, Wenjie Zhang, Juhong Han, Zheyuan Liu, Jie Liu and Yafei Huang
Materials 2024, 17(13), 3097; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma17133097 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
This paper investigates the effects of steel fiber and PVA fiber hybrid blending on the compressive strength (), splitting tensile strength (), compression energy (), and shrinkage properties of concrete. It also establishes a multi-factor crack resistance index evaluation model based on the [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the effects of steel fiber and PVA fiber hybrid blending on the compressive strength (), splitting tensile strength (), compression energy (), and shrinkage properties of concrete. It also establishes a multi-factor crack resistance index evaluation model based on the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to comprehensively evaluate the crack resistance of concrete. The results show that the steel–PVA hybrid fiber (S-PVA HF) further enhances , , the compression energy, and the shrinkage suppression properties of the concrete. The crack resistance of the steel–PVA hybrid fiber concrete (S-PVA HFRC) is the best when the proportion of steel fiber is 1.0% and that of the PVA fiber is 0.2%, and it increases up to 143% compared to the baseline concrete. The established concrete crack resistance evaluation model has a certain reliability. Full article
23 pages, 32033 KiB  
Article
RANS-Based Aerodynamic Shape Optimization of a Wing with a Propeller in Front of the Wingtip
by Shamsheer S. Chauhan and Joaquim R. R. A. Martins
Aerospace 2024, 11(7), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11070512 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Accounting for propeller–wing interaction allows for the design of more efficient propeller aircraft through strategic propulsion integration. In this paper, the cruise drag of a wing with a propeller located in front of the wingtip is minimized using twist and airfoil-shape design variables. [...] Read more.
Accounting for propeller–wing interaction allows for the design of more efficient propeller aircraft through strategic propulsion integration. In this paper, the cruise drag of a wing with a propeller located in front of the wingtip is minimized using twist and airfoil-shape design variables. Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes computational fluid dynamics with an actuator-disk approach is used for the flow simulations, and a gradient-based algorithm is used for the optimization. Changing the rotation direction of the propeller and optimizing the twist and airfoil shapes of the wing are found to impact the aerodynamic performance significantly, as expected. However, optimizing the wing while accounting for the propeller slipstream during optimization provides little benefit over optimizing it without accounting for the propeller slipstream—a difference of less than one drag count. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Aeronautics)
18 pages, 2446 KiB  
Article
Thermal and Moisture Management in the Microclimate of Socks for Diabetic Foot Care: The Role of Mohair-Wool Content
by Adine Gericke and Mohanapriya Venkataraman
Fibers 2024, 12(7), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib12070053 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
In diabetic patients, optimised plantar health necessitates meticulously designed hosiery. These specialised socks facilitate a healthy microclimate at the skin–textile interface. This requires that stable conditions of temperature and humidity are maintained during wear. This study investigated the thermal resistance and moisture management [...] Read more.
In diabetic patients, optimised plantar health necessitates meticulously designed hosiery. These specialised socks facilitate a healthy microclimate at the skin–textile interface. This requires that stable conditions of temperature and humidity are maintained during wear. This study investigated the thermal resistance and moisture management properties of socks for diabetics. Fabrics and socks were evaluated on the Alambeta and thermal foot manikin instruments and in wear trials. A novel in vitro method, mimicking in-use conditions, was employed to validate findings and assess sock performance during wear. Fabric structure, especially thickness, had a greater impact on thermal resistance than fibre composition, suggesting that socks with different levels of thermal resistance can be customised according to individual preferences. In terms of moisture management, mohair–wool socks outperformed polyester socks, maintaining significantly lower humidity between the skin and the sock, and meeting the requirement to prevent the drying out of the microclimate significantly better. The enhanced moisture vapour sorption exhibited by the mohair–wool fabric contributes to this effect. Overall, the findings suggest that mohair–wool is an excellent fibre choice for diabetic socks, due to its unique moisture management properties and the possibility to tailor thermal properties through fabric structural design. Full article
19 pages, 2238 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Recycled Spent Coffee Grounds Fertilizer, Vermicompost, and Chemical Fertilizers on the Growth and Soil Quality of Red Radish (Raphanus sativus) in the United Arab Emirates: A Sustainability Perspective
by Athari K. Mesmar, Shaikha T. Albedwawi, Aysha K. Alsalami, Alreem R. Alshemeili, Abdelghafar M. Abu-Elsaoud, Khaled A. El-Tarabily and Seham M. Al Raish
Foods 2024, 13(13), 1997; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13131997 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
The overuse of chemical fertilizers degrades the soil ecosystem and restricts the natural development of plants. Various byproducts are produced throughout the production and consumption of coffee within the coffee industry, and they are significant in terms of environmental waste. Spent coffee grounds [...] Read more.
The overuse of chemical fertilizers degrades the soil ecosystem and restricts the natural development of plants. Various byproducts are produced throughout the production and consumption of coffee within the coffee industry, and they are significant in terms of environmental waste. Spent coffee grounds (SCGs) contains various bioactive compounds that have demonstrated potential applications in various fields. These compounds can enhance soil quality by improving its physicochemical properties and biological fertility, ultimately leading to improved plant growth and reducing food waste and contamination at the same time. This current study examined the impact of chemical fertilizer, vermicompost, SCGs with percentage fertilizer (SCGPF), and SCGs on the top dressing fertilizer (SCGTDF) on red radish (Raphanus sativus) growth and soil quality. This greenhouse experiment tested various concentrations of SCGPF (5%, 10%, 25%, and 50%) and different doses of SCGTDF (0.5 g, 1 g, and 2.5 g). The results showed that the 0.5 g SCGTDF treatment yielded the highest mean plant length (18.47 cm) and fresh weight (27.54 g), while the vermicompost at a 50% concentration produced the highest mean leaf surface area (58.32 cm2). These findings suggest the potential of SCGs as a sustainable fertilizer alternative, contributing to improved plant growth and soil quality, thus supporting sustainable agricultural practices and a circular economy. Full article
22 pages, 763 KiB  
Review
The Significance of Genetically Determined Methylation and Folate Metabolism Disorders in the Pathogenesis of Coronary Artery Disease: A Target for New Therapies?
by Agnieszka Pietruszyńska-Reszetarska, Robert Pietruszyński and Robert Irzmański
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(13), 6924; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25136924 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Methylation is a biochemical process involving the addition of a methyl group (-CH3) to various chemical compounds. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the homeostasis of the endothelium, which lines the interior surface of blood vessels, and has been linked, [...] Read more.
Methylation is a biochemical process involving the addition of a methyl group (-CH3) to various chemical compounds. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the homeostasis of the endothelium, which lines the interior surface of blood vessels, and has been linked, among other conditions, to coronary artery disease (CAD). Despite significant progress in CAD diagnosis and treatment, intensive research continues into genotypic and phenotypic CAD biomarkers. This review explores the significance of the methylation pathway and folate metabolism in CAD pathogenesis, with a focus on endothelial dysfunction resulting from deficiency in the active form of folate (5-MTHF). We discuss emerging areas of research into CAD biomarkers and factors influencing the methylation process. By highlighting genetically determined methylation disorders, particularly the MTHFR polymorphism, we propose the potential use of the active form of folate (5-MTHF) as a novel CAD biomarker and personalized pharmaceutical for selected patient groups. Our aim is to improve the identification of individuals at high risk of CAD and enhance their prognosis. Full article
23 pages, 1451 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Potential of Variational Autoencoders for Modeling Nonlinear Relationships in Psychological Data
by Nicola Milano, Monica Casella, Raffaella Esposito and Davide Marocco
Behav. Sci. 2024, 14(7), 527; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs14070527 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Latent variables analysis is an important part of psychometric research. In this context, factor analysis and other related techniques have been widely applied for the investigation of the internal structure of psychometric tests. However, these methods perform a linear dimensionality reduction under a [...] Read more.
Latent variables analysis is an important part of psychometric research. In this context, factor analysis and other related techniques have been widely applied for the investigation of the internal structure of psychometric tests. However, these methods perform a linear dimensionality reduction under a series of assumptions that could not always be verified in psychological data. Predictive techniques, such as artificial neural networks, could complement and improve the exploration of latent space, overcoming the limits of traditional methods. In this study, we explore the latent space generated by a particular artificial neural network: the variational autoencoder. This autoencoder could perform a nonlinear dimensionality reduction and encourage the latent features to follow a predefined distribution (usually a normal distribution) by learning the most important relationships hidden in data. In this study, we investigate the capacity of autoencoders to model item–factor relationships in simulated data, which encompasses linear and nonlinear associations. We also extend our investigation to a real dataset. Results on simulated data show that the variational autoencoder performs similarly to factor analysis when the relationships among observed and latent variables are linear, and it is able to reproduce the factor scores. Moreover, results on nonlinear data show that, differently than factor analysis, it can also learn to reproduce nonlinear relationships among observed variables and factors. The factor score estimates are also more accurate with respect to factor analysis. The real case results confirm the potential of the autoencoder in reducing dimensionality with mild assumptions on input data and in recognizing the function that links observed and latent variables. Full article
22 pages, 1143 KiB  
Article
The Two-Parameter Bifurcation and Evolution of Hunting Motion for a Bogie System
by Shijun Wang, Lin Ma and Lingyun Zhang
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(13), 5492; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14135492 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
The complex service environment of railway vehicles leads to changes in the wheel–rail adhesion coefficient, and the decrease in critical speed may lead to hunting instability. This paper aims to reveal the diversity of periodic hunting motion patterns and the internal correlation relationship [...] Read more.
The complex service environment of railway vehicles leads to changes in the wheel–rail adhesion coefficient, and the decrease in critical speed may lead to hunting instability. This paper aims to reveal the diversity of periodic hunting motion patterns and the internal correlation relationship with wheel–rail impact velocities after the hunting instability of a bogie system. A nonlinear, non-smooth lateral dynamic model of a bogie system with 7 degrees of freedom is constructed. The wheel–rail contact relations and the piecewise smooth flange forces are the main nonlinear, non-smooth factors in the system. Based on Poincaré mapping and the two-parameter co-simulation theory, hunting motion modes and existence regions are obtained in the parameter plane consisting of running speed v and the wheel–rail adhesion coefficient μ. Three-dimensional cloud maps of the maximum lateral wheel–rail impact velocity are obtained, and the correlation with the hunting motion pattern is analyzed. The coexistence of periodic hunting motions is further revealed based on combined bifurcation diagrams and multi-initial value phase diagrams. The results show that grazing bifurcation causes the number of wheel–rail impacts to increase at a low-speed range. Periodic hunting motion with period number n = 1 has smaller lateral wheel–rail impact velocities, whereas chaotic motion induces more severe wheel–rail impacts. Subharmonic periodic hunting motion windows within the speed range of chaotic motion, pitchfork bifurcation, and jump bifurcation are the primary forms that induce the coexistence of periodic motion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mechanical Engineering)
15 pages, 1673 KiB  
Review
Update on Transcatheter Interventions in Adults with Congenital Heart Disease
by Angela Li and Jamil A. Aboulhosn
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(13), 3685; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13133685 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
The field of adult congenital interventions is unique in the world of cardiac catheterization, combining the structural concepts commonly employed in pediatric heart disease and applying them to adult patients, who are more amenable to device intervention as they no longer experience somatic [...] Read more.
The field of adult congenital interventions is unique in the world of cardiac catheterization, combining the structural concepts commonly employed in pediatric heart disease and applying them to adult patients, who are more amenable to device intervention as they no longer experience somatic growth. Rapid advances in the field have been made to match the growing population of adult patients with congenital heart disease, which currently surpasses the number of pediatric patients born with congenital heart disease. Many congenital defects, which once required surgical intervention or reoperation, can now be addressed via the transcatheter approach, minimizing the morbidity and mortality often encountered within adult congenital surgeries. In this paper, we aim to provide a focused review of the more common procedures that are utilized for the treatment of adult congenital heart disease patients in the catheterization laboratory, as examples of current practices in the United States, as well as emerging concepts and devices awaiting approval in the future. Full article
21 pages, 1371 KiB  
Article
Detection of Klebsiella pneumoniae Carbapenem Resistance Genes by qPCR: Choosing the Right Method for Total DNA Extraction
by Cecilia Heller, Iris Bachmann, Martin Spiegel, Frank T. Hufert and Gregory Dame
Microorganisms 2024, 12(7), 1285; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12071285 (registering DOI) - 25 Jun 2024
Abstract
Rapid and accurate detection of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenem resistance is important for infection control and targeted antibiotic therapy. PCR-based assay performance heavily depends on the quality and quantity of template DNA. Challenges arise from the necessity to isolate chromosomal and large plasmid-encoded resistance [...] Read more.
Rapid and accurate detection of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenem resistance is important for infection control and targeted antibiotic therapy. PCR-based assay performance heavily depends on the quality and quantity of template DNA. Challenges arise from the necessity to isolate chromosomal and large plasmid-encoded resistance genes simultaneously from a limited number of target cells and to remove PCR inhibitors. qPCRs for the detection of K. pneumoniae strains carrying blaOXA-48, blaNDM-1, blaKPC-2, and blaVIM-1 carbapenemase genes were developed. We compared the performance of template DNA extracted with silica column-based methods, reversed elution systems, and lysis-only methods either from diluted culture fluid or from a synthetic stool matrix which contained PCR inhibitors typically present in stool. The synthetic stool matrix was chosen to mimic K. pneumoniae containing rectal swabs or stool samples in a reproducible manner. For total DNA isolated from culture fluid, resistance gene detection by qPCR was always possible, independent of the extraction method. However, when total DNA was isolated from synthetic stool matrix spiked with K. pneumoniae, most methods were insufficient. The best performance of template DNA was obtained with reversed elution. This highlights the importance of choosing the right DNA extraction method for consistent carbapenem resistance detection by PCR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Antimicrobial Agents and Resistance)

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