Special Issue "Environmental Science and Technologies for the Management of Natural Ecosystems and the Sustainable Development of Urban Areas"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Zacharias Frontistis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Engineering, University of Western Macedonia, Kozani, Greece
Interests: environmental engineering; water & wastewater engineering advanced oxidation processes (AOPs); environmental modeling, environmental catalysis
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Yiannis G. Matsinos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environment, University of the Aegean; Sector of Ecosystems Management, University Hill, Xenia Building, Mytilene 81100, Greece
Tel. +302251036228
Interests: ecological modelling; individual-based modeling; biodiversity conservation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Athanasios Angelis-Dimakis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK
Interests: industrial ecology; industrial symbiosis; carbon capture and utilization; life cycle assessment; urban mining
Dr. Hagit Messer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Electrical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Interests: signal processing; environmental monitoring; opportunistic sensor
Dr. Vincenzo Naddeo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering, Universita di Salerno, Salerno, Italy
Tel. +39-089-96-9333; Fax: +39-089-96-9620
Interests: advances oxidation processes (AOPs); biotecnologies; control of emerging contaminants; enviromental odour; environmental technologies for the sustainable development of smart cities; water energy nexus

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The 15th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (CEST2017) was held in the island of Rhodes, Greece, 31 August to 2 September, 2017. CEST2017 is one of the leading worldwide conferences on Environmental Science and Technology. The main aim of the conference is the presentation of state-of-the art research and innovative technologies to address local and international critical environmental issues. A wide range of topics are presented while addressing the new opportunities for the emerging science-policy interface promoting the dialogue between the scientific and policy-making communities. This Special Issue will select works from Sections ecology and ecosystem management, energy technologies and sustainability, smart cities for a sustainable development, use of microwave communication links as near-ground weather sensors, water and wastewater treatment.

The authors of a number of selected full papers of high quality will be invited after the conference to submit revised and extended versions of their originally-accepted conference papers to this Special Issue of Environments, published by MDPI, in open access. Each submission to this Special Issue should contain at least 50% of new material, e.g., in the form of technical extensions, more in-depth evaluations, or additional use cases. These extended submissions will undergo a peer-review process according to the journal’s rules of action. At least two technical committees will act as reviewers for each extended article submitted to this Special Issue; if needed, additional external reviewers will be invited to guarantee a high-quality reviewing process.

Dr. Zacharias Frontistis
Dr. Yiannis G. Matsinos
Dr. Athanasios Angelis-Dimakis
Dr. Hagit Messer
Dr. Vincenzo Naddeo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ecology and ecosystem management
  • energy technologies and sustainability
  • smart cities for a sustainable development
  • use of microwave communication links as near-ground weather sensors
  • water and wastewater treatment

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Determination of Quality Properties of Low-Grade Biodiesel and Its Heating Oil Blends
Environments 2018, 5(9), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5090096 - 24 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This research work examined how biodiesel produced from frying oils affects the physicochemical properties of its mixtures with conventional heating oil. Through the characterization of biodiesel blends and heating oil, the purpose is to produce an improved heating oil that will meet the [...] Read more.
This research work examined how biodiesel produced from frying oils affects the physicochemical properties of its mixtures with conventional heating oil. Through the characterization of biodiesel blends and heating oil, the purpose is to produce an improved heating oil that will meet the specifications of the existing legislation for heating oil, while positively contributing to reducing the production of pollutants. The percentage of biodiesel added to a conventional diesel fuel contributes to the reduction of the pollutants produced during combustion. The examined biodiesel is considered the residual product, which was produced at a factory in Cyprus, and was deemed unsuitable for export, because it does not meet the legal requirements. Using specific volumes of these mixtures, twelve parameters were determined in order to investigate the effect of the mixtures: kinematic viscosity, sulfur content, micro carbon residue (MCR), distillation curves, density, cloud point (CP), fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) content, heat of combustion, iodine value (IV), cetane index (CI) after distillation, oxidation stability, and cold filter plugging point (CFPP). A number of fuel properties including the kinematic viscosity, MCR, distillation temperature—up to 80% distillate—and density showed an increase as the percentage of FAMEs raised from 2.5 to 50%, while others showed a mixed behavior (e.g., IV, CP, CI, CFPP), and the rest an inverse trend (e.g., sulfur content, heat of combustion and oxidation stability). An efficient potential utilization of a residual domestic product is proposed, while the pollutants that accumulate on the urban atmospheres during the winter months, due to increased heating needs of homes and other public or private buildings, will be significantly reduced. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Empirical Study of the Quantization Induced Bias in Commercial Microwave Links’ Min/Max Attenuation Measurements for Rain Monitoring
Environments 2018, 5(7), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5070080 - 11 Jul 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Commercial microwave links have a great potential to be used as sensors for rain. However, the use of commercial microwave links to monitor the rain depends heavily on the availability of the links’ attenuation measurements. The cellular operators which provide the majority of [...] Read more.
Commercial microwave links have a great potential to be used as sensors for rain. However, the use of commercial microwave links to monitor the rain depends heavily on the availability of the links’ attenuation measurements. The cellular operators which provide the majority of these measurements usually make use of the standard Network Management Systems (NMS), which log only a quantized version of the minimum and the maximum attenuation values (usually in 15-min intervals). The non-linear min/max transformation, in combination with the quantizer, which are implemented on the channel attenuation measurements, should be considered during the rain-estimation procedures. In this paper, we examine actual NMS produced attenuation measurements that are taken from two commercial microwave links during multiple rain events. Using observations from two rain gauges and a weather radar, we empirically demonstrate that the output of the NMS includes bias, which in turn interferes with the rain-estimation process. We show that the detection and the compensation of this bias have the potential to increase the microwave links’ rain-estimation accuracy considerably. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fuel Treatments and Potential Fire Behavior in Peri-Urban Forests in Northern Greece
Environments 2018, 5(7), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5070079 - 10 Jul 2018
Abstract
The peri-urban and urban forests in Greece occupy a total area of 105.353 ha. In these vulnerable ecosystems, fire constitutes a natural disaster presenting particular challenges and specific difficulties. These include the high number of visitors as well as the forest characteristics, such [...] Read more.
The peri-urban and urban forests in Greece occupy a total area of 105.353 ha. In these vulnerable ecosystems, fire constitutes a natural disaster presenting particular challenges and specific difficulties. These include the high number of visitors as well as the forest characteristics, such as the presence of particularly flammable tree species and the high accumulation of combustible biomass, that make the on-start of fires more likely. The main purpose of the current research is to identify the optimum combination of silvicultural treatments to efficiently reduce potential severity of forest fires and to facilitate their successful suppression by firefighting crews. In order to simulate the basic fire environment of urban forests, two main experimental plots were established and several tree and topographical characteristics were measured. Additionally, a crown fire hazard modelling system (NEXUS) was used to simulate forest fire potential behavior before and after the adoption of the silvicultural treatments that altered critical characteristics of the forest fire environment. The results clearly show that specific silvicultural prescriptions altered the type of forest fire spreading potential, revealing the overall efficiency of preventing actions during forest management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Advancements in the Statistical Study, Modeling, and Simulation of Microwave-Links in Cellular Backhaul Networks
Environments 2018, 5(7), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5070075 - 28 Jun 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
While the effect of rainfall and other environmental phenomena on a link budget in microwave wireless communication has been well studied for network design, it has usually been done for each microwave-link separately. Recently, attenuation in multiple microwave-links is being used simultaneously for [...] Read more.
While the effect of rainfall and other environmental phenomena on a link budget in microwave wireless communication has been well studied for network design, it has usually been done for each microwave-link separately. Recently, attenuation in multiple microwave-links is being used simultaneously for rainfall mapping over specific areas, and consequently, rain-induced attenuation fields can be constructed. Dedicated algorithms have been designed to relate attenuation in multiple microwave-links to its corresponding rain-field. Their performance depends significantly on the structure of the network. As the topology of a cellular microwave network (CMNs) is region-dependent, general theory for its effect on performance can only be developed statistically. In this paper we study the statistical nature of CMNs and lay the groundwork for such models based on empirical results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vertical Precipitation Estimation Using Microwave Links in Conjunction with Weather Radar
Environments 2018, 5(7), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5070074 - 23 Jun 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
When monitoring rain rates by weather radar in semi-arid regions and when measuring precipitation at an arid region; precipitation particles, rain, or snowflakes may evaporate before reaching the ground. This evaporation is regarded as the Virga phenomenon and may cause a false representation [...] Read more.
When monitoring rain rates by weather radar in semi-arid regions and when measuring precipitation at an arid region; precipitation particles, rain, or snowflakes may evaporate before reaching the ground. This evaporation is regarded as the Virga phenomenon and may cause a false representation of the precipitation amount that actually reaches the ground. The Virga occurs naturally when the air below the cloud is relatively dry, and continues until humidity below the base of the cloud is high enough to decrease the evaporation. This paper suggests a method of combining near ground Commercial Microwave Links (CMLs) attenuation measurements, in conjunction with data from several weather radar beams, observing different heights, in order to produce estimates of the vertical profile of the rain-rate values and of the Cloud Base level (ClB). We propose an estimation method and demonstrate it using real-data measurements of two major storm events in the dead-sea area. We verify the validity of the estimation near ground by comparing the results with Rain Gauges’ (RGs) actual measurements in addition to comparing the estimated ClB with real ClB observations of a nearby weather station. While the storm events selected indeed show great evaporation, the suggested method provides excellent results, with a correlation of up to 0.9615, when correlated with real measurements of RGs of two storms from 2014 to 2016. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Capitalizing on Cellular Technology—Opportunities and Challenges for Near Ground Weather Monitoring
Environments 2018, 5(7), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5070073 - 22 Jun 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The use of existing measurements from a commercial wireless communication system as virtual sensors for environmental monitoring has recently gained increasing attention. In particular, measurements of the signal level of commercial microwave links (CMLs) used in the backhaul communication network of cellular systems [...] Read more.
The use of existing measurements from a commercial wireless communication system as virtual sensors for environmental monitoring has recently gained increasing attention. In particular, measurements of the signal level of commercial microwave links (CMLs) used in the backhaul communication network of cellular systems are considered as opportunistic sensors for precipitation monitoring. Research results have demonstrated the feasibility of the suggested technique for the estimating and mapping of rain, as well as for monitoring other-than-rain phenomena. However, further advancement toward implementation and commercial use are heavily dependent on multidisciplinary collaborations: Communication and network engineers are needed to enable access to the existing measurements; signal processing experts can utilize the different data for improving the accuracy and the tempo-spatial resolution of the estimates; atmospheric scientists are responsible for the physical modeling; hydrologists, meteorologists, and others can contribute to the end uses; economists can indicate the potential benefits; etc. In this paper I will review state-of-the-art results and the open challenges, demonstrating the benefit to the public good from utilizing the opportunistic-sensing approach. I will also analyze the various obstacles on the way there. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Decomposition of Used Tyre Rubber by Pyrolysis: Enhancement of the Physical Properties of the Liquid Fraction Using a Hydrogen Stream
Environments 2018, 5(6), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5060072 - 19 Jun 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
The disposal of discarded tyres represents an environmental challenge for solid waste management entities. The need to reduce solid waste in urban areas along with the depletion of natural resources have made it necessary to reincorporate used materials into productive processes, giving value [...] Read more.
The disposal of discarded tyres represents an environmental challenge for solid waste management entities. The need to reduce solid waste in urban areas along with the depletion of natural resources have made it necessary to reincorporate used materials into productive processes, giving value to what is considered waste, and minimizing the requirement of natural resources. In this study, pyrolysis was selected to thermally decompose used ground waste vulcanized rubber from automobile tyres. This rubber was exposed to the pyrolytic process in an indirectly heated batch reactor at three different temperatures. Three fractions (i.e., gas, liquid and solid) were obtained during the process. The effect of a hydrogen stream on the properties of the liquid fraction was analysed and characterized following the American Society for Testing and Materials procedures (ASTM) for the pyrolysis of liquid fuels. A multifactorial statistical analysis was used to evaluate the experimental data and thermographs of the process were recorded. Differences in thermographs suggest a different degradation pathway for the rubber exposed to 600 °C compared to the rubber exposed to lower temperatures. Temperatures in the range of 450 to 500 °C favored the production of carbon black regardless of the use of a hydrogen stream. In contrast, high temperatures favored the production of liquid and gas fractions. The highest production of liquid fraction was obtained at 550 °C, where 37% of the rubber was turned into liquid. Results also showed that a constant flow of hydrogen improves the appearance of the pyrolysis liquid. Furthermore, the hydrogen atmosphere reduces the sulphur content, water and sediments; and increases the values for the heat of combustion and the liquid fraction. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Linking Marine Ecosystem Services to the North Sea’s Energy Fields in Transnational Marine Spatial Planning
Environments 2018, 5(6), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5060067 - 04 Jun 2018
Abstract
Marine spatial planning temporally and spatially allocates marine resources to different users. The ecosystem approach aims at optimising the social and economic benefits people derive from marine resources while preserving the ecosystem’s health. Marine ecosystem services are defined as the benefits people obtain [...] Read more.
Marine spatial planning temporally and spatially allocates marine resources to different users. The ecosystem approach aims at optimising the social and economic benefits people derive from marine resources while preserving the ecosystem’s health. Marine ecosystem services are defined as the benefits people obtain from marine ecosystems. The aim of this study is to determine which interrelations between marine ecosystem services and the marine energy industry can be identified for use in transnational marine spatial planning exemplified in the North Sea region. As the North Sea is one of the busiest seas worldwide, the risk of impairing the ecosystems through anthropogenic pressures is high. Drawing on a literature-based review, 23 marine ecosystem services provided by the North Sea region were defined and linked to seven offshore energy fields comprising oil and natural gas, wind, tides and currents, waves, salinity gradients, algal biomass, and geothermal heat. The interactions were divided into four categories: dependence, impact, bidirectional, or no interaction. Oil and natural gas, as well as algae biomass, are the fields with the most relations with marine ecosystem services while waves and salinity gradients exhibit the least. Some marine ecosystem services (Conditions for Infrastructure, Regulation of Water Flows, and Cognitive Development) are needed for all fields; Recreation and Tourism, Aesthetic and Cultural Perceptions and Traditions, Cognitive Development, and Sea Scape are impacted by all fields. The results of this research provide an improved basis for an ecosystem approach in transnational marine spatial planning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characterization and Production of Extracellular Polysaccharides (EPS) by Bacillus Pseudomycoides U10
Environments 2018, 5(6), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5060063 - 23 May 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
We aimed to determine the effect of Luria-Bertani (LB) medium, nutrient broth (NB) and tryptic soy broth (TSB), pH, temperature, and incubation time on the production of extracellular polysaccharides (EPS). The effect of glucose, whey and glycerol on bacterial EPS production by Bacillus [...] Read more.
We aimed to determine the effect of Luria-Bertani (LB) medium, nutrient broth (NB) and tryptic soy broth (TSB), pH, temperature, and incubation time on the production of extracellular polysaccharides (EPS). The effect of glucose, whey and glycerol on bacterial EPS production by Bacillus pseudomycoides U10 was also tested. LB was better than NB and TSB for EPS production. Maximum EPS production was obtained when 1 g/L whey was added to the growth medium. The influence of incubation times (24–96 h), different pH values (6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0 and 9.0) and temperature (25, 30, 37 and 45 °C) were also tested. The optimum pH level was 7.0 and the highest EPS production was observed at 37 °C after 60 h of incubation. Glycerol was not a good carbon source for cell growth and EPS production. The difference in carbohydrate and protein amount was related to the different types of EPS (dissolved and particulate). In general, the uronic acid content in particulate EPS was lower than in dissolved EPS. The maximum uronic acid was obtained from dissolved EPS (16 mg uronic acid/g EPS). According to X-ray diffraction (XRD), thermogravimetric EPS have a poorly crystalline nature and exhibit two-step degradations, corresponding to the weight loss of moisture and/or carboxyl group and the pyrolysis of EPS, without distinctive changes in different media conditions. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) data indicate the layer thickness of the bacterial EPS is from 12.04 to 14.07 Å for whey and dissolved LB conditions, respectively. It was found that EPS structures changed with whey addition, such as higher d-values, lower weight losses and more filamentous structures which seemed to be related to increasing durability and/or stability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Multi-Criteria Analysis Model for Investment Projects in Smart Cities
Environments 2018, 5(4), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5040050 - 23 Apr 2018
Abstract
A city plays a central role in the processes of economic, social, and environmental development, becoming the core of policy makers’ strategies. Thus, it is essential to optimize the use of monetary resources available by means of integrated decision-support approaches, able to pursue [...] Read more.
A city plays a central role in the processes of economic, social, and environmental development, becoming the core of policy makers’ strategies. Thus, it is essential to optimize the use of monetary resources available by means of integrated decision-support approaches, able to pursue an increasingly “instrumented, interconnected and intelligent” cities prototype. In this perspective, the Smart City paradigm addresses the challenges of sustainable development through the implementation of new spatial planning schemes, which require the selection of projects on the basis of multi-criteria economic evaluation logics, namely financial and extra-financial criteria. The purpose of the work is to define an innovative model of economic analysis for the choice of investments in a Smart City, useful for both public operators and private investors. The evaluation protocol is written in the A Mathematical Programming Language (AMPL) through the optimization algorithms of Discrete Linear Programming (DLP). The effectiveness, adaptability, and operational simplicity of the investigative tool are tested on a case study. The model’s limitations and research perspectives are highlighted in the conclusions of the work. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview
Holistic Assessment of Carbon Capture and Utilization Value Chains
Environments 2018, 5(10), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5100108 - 25 Sep 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) is recognized by the European Union, along with carbon, capture and storage (CCS), as one of the main tools towards global warming mitigation. It has, thus, been extensively studied by various researchers around the world. The majority of [...] Read more.
Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) is recognized by the European Union, along with carbon, capture and storage (CCS), as one of the main tools towards global warming mitigation. It has, thus, been extensively studied by various researchers around the world. The majority of the papers published so far focus on the individual stages of a CCU value chain (carbon capture, separation, purification, transportation, and transformation/utilization). However, a holistic approach, taking into account the matching and the interaction between these stages, is also necessary in order to optimize and develop technically and economically feasible CCU value chains. The objective of this contribution is to present the most important studies that are related to the individual stages of CCU and to perform a critical review of the major existing methods, algorithms and tools that focus on the simulation or optimization of CCU value chains. The key research gaps will be identified and examined in order to lay the foundation for the development of a methodology towards the holistic assessment of CCU value chains. Full article
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