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Special Issue "20th CIRIAF National Congress – Sustainable Development and Preservation of Environment and Human Health"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Health and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Gianluca Cavalaglio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CIRIAF Research Centre, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
Interests: Renewable energy; bioenergy; biofuels; biochemicals; lignocellulosic ethanol; biomass processes, polygeneration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleague,

CIRIAF (the Inter-University Research Centre on Pollution and Environment “Mauro Felli)” is a research centre based out of the University of Perugia, which promotes interdisciplinary and international research activities in the fields of environmental pollution, as well as its health and socio-economic effects, sustainable development, renewable and alternative energy, energy planning, and sustainable mobility. More than one hundred professors from about 20 different Italian and foreign universities are involved in the activities of the centre.

The CIRIAF National Congress, at its twentieth edition in 2020, collected the research activities of hundreds of scientists—fifty papers were presented during the congress and divided into the following sessions, which also involved four national research projects:

  • Methane recovery and carbon dioxide disposal in natural gas hydrate reservoirs
  • Development and promotion of levulinic acid and carboxilate platforms by the formulation of novel and advanced PHA-based biomaterials and their exploitation for 3D printed green-electronic applications (VISION)
  • Biofeedstock: “Development of integrated technology platforms for the biomass residues valorisation”
  • Environmental, economic, and social sustainability
  • Circular economy models and innovative integrated pathways
  • BIOmasses Circular Holistic Economy APproach to EneRgy equipments (BIO-CHEAPER)
  • Renewable energies and sustainable plants
  • Sustainable buildings and bio-architecture
  • Territory strategic planning.

The Special Issue will include only the papers presented at the congress and selected by the scientific committee, and after successfully finalizing the peer revision process of the journal.

Dr. Gianluca Cavalaglio
Guest Editor

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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 1900 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

  • Sustainable development
  • Renewable energies
  • Bioenergy
  • Biomass and biofuels
  • Biomaterials
  • Sustainable buildings

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Influences of a Highly Reflective Mulching Membrane on Heat Propagation throughout the Soil
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9737; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179737 - 30 Aug 2021
Viewed by 353
Abstract
Agro-food chain impacts global greenhouse gas emissions by around 30%. To reduce this score without worsening food crops’ yield, new and more sustainable technologies (i.e., mulching membranes, advanced irrigation systems) were implemented. Within this framework, the present study aims to assess the influences [...] Read more.
Agro-food chain impacts global greenhouse gas emissions by around 30%. To reduce this score without worsening food crops’ yield, new and more sustainable technologies (i.e., mulching membranes, advanced irrigation systems) were implemented. Within this framework, the present study aims to assess the influences on heat propagation throughout the soil of a highly reflective mulching membrane. An experimental facility was implemented in which the surface temperatures of both the soil and the membrane were monitored together with the temperature of the soil (at three depths). Five statistical days were defined by considering the same amount of percentiles of the monitored temperatures (0th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 100th percentiles). Then, the attenuation and the phase shift of the thermal wave throughout the soil and the cooling potential of the membrane were calculated. Although negligible variations from the uncovered soil were observed in surface temperature, the membrane enables a greater attenuation of the thermal wave throughout the soil. This can be up to 16 °C cooler than the surface, with potential benefits for plant growth. Furthermore, the membrane optical properties permit to offset carbon emissions from agriculture activities by around 0.1 tCO2-eq m−2. Full article
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Article
Fractionation of Cynara cardunculus L. by Acidified Organosolv Treatment for the Extraction of Highly Digestible Cellulose and Technical Lignin
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8714; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168714 - 04 Aug 2021
Viewed by 414
Abstract
One of the primary targets for the new lignocellulosic feedstock-based biorefinery is the simultaneous valorization of holocellulose and lignin. Acidified organosolv treatment is among the most promising strategy for recovering technical lignin, water-soluble hemicellulose, and cellulose pulp with increased accessibility to hydrolytic enzymes. [...] Read more.
One of the primary targets for the new lignocellulosic feedstock-based biorefinery is the simultaneous valorization of holocellulose and lignin. Acidified organosolv treatment is among the most promising strategy for recovering technical lignin, water-soluble hemicellulose, and cellulose pulp with increased accessibility to hydrolytic enzymes. In this work, a design-of-experiment (DoE) approach was used to increase the cellulose recovery, digestibility, and the delignification of Cynara cardunculus L. feedstock. In the first treatment, the milled biomass was subjected to microwave-assisted extraction using an acidified GVL/water mixture to separate lignin and hemicellulose from cellulose. In the second treatment, the cellulose pulp was hydrolyzed by cellulolytic enzymes to demonstrate the enhanced digestibility. At the optimal condition (154 °C, 2.24% H2SO4, and 0.62 GVL/water ratio), the cellulose pulp showed a cellulose content of 87.59%, while the lignin content was lower than 8%. The cellulose recovery and digestibility were equal to 79.46% and 86.94%, respectively. About 40% of the initial hemicellulose was recovered as monosaccharides. This study demonstrated the effectiveness of the two-step organosolv treatment for biomass fractionation; however, as suggested by DoE analysis, a confirmative study at a low temperature (<154 °C) should be performed to further increase the cellulose recovery. Full article
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Article
DTM to NURBS—A Parametric Approach to Landscape Modeling for an Environmentally-Conscious Design
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2379; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042379 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 548
Abstract
This research aims to develop a methodology for geometric analysis of the territory, which, by means of a specially designed digital tool, allows quantitative assessments useful for drawing up sustainability policies. The difficulty of working with this type of procedure is the sectorialisation [...] Read more.
This research aims to develop a methodology for geometric analysis of the territory, which, by means of a specially designed digital tool, allows quantitative assessments useful for drawing up sustainability policies. The difficulty of working with this type of procedure is the sectorialisation of technical skills among those who deal with design at the architectural scale and those who work at territorial scale. The undertaken methodology establishes a workflow that can export data from a GIS tool and import it into a three-dimensional modeler. To do this you need an intermediate tool, a parametric software. The explained procedure aims to have maximum freedom of model geometries processing. Therefore, it has been based on Nurbs mathematical models. The application tested with this is the solar radiation analysis in the territory of Ortona, Italy, on the Adriatic coast. Starting from the cartographic data of the Abruzzo Region, the three-dimensional model has been developed and it has built a base for further analysis. This working methodology ensures efficient results with a low amount of human iteration to generate the final model. Some of the procedure’s limitations have been explained in detail, mainly due to the structure of the used components. Full article
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Article
Combined Gasification-Oxidation System for Waste Treatment with Supercritical Water: LCA and Performance Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010082 - 23 Dec 2020
Viewed by 655
Abstract
In this study the environmental performance of a first-of-its-kind integrated process based on supercritical water gasification and oxidation (SCW-GcO), was evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The process was applied to the treatment of carbon black and used oil as model wastes. Mass [...] Read more.
In this study the environmental performance of a first-of-its-kind integrated process based on supercritical water gasification and oxidation (SCW-GcO), was evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The process was applied to the treatment of carbon black and used oil as model wastes. Mass and energy balances were performed using Aspen Plus, and the environmental assessment was carried out through SimaPro. A “from cradle to grave” approach was chosen for the analysis, considering impact categories such as climate change, ozone depletion, human toxicity, particulate matter, land use, resource depletion, and other relevant indicators. The environmental profile of the SCW-GcO process was compared to other technologies for the treatment of dangerous wastes, solvent mixtures, and exhaust mineral oils by using the Ecoinvent database. It is shown that SCW-GcO allows for reduced impacts in different categories and the obtention of a favorable positive life cycle energy balance, achieving good environmental performance. Full article
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Article
A Prototype Plant for Oilseed Extraction: Analysis of Mass and Energy Flows
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9786; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229786 - 23 Nov 2020
Viewed by 606
Abstract
The focus of this study is to analyze the energy flows related to cardoon oil processing based on the estimated electricity consumption. It was carried out in a prototype oilseed extraction plant located in Umbria Region, Italy. This installation consists of the following [...] Read more.
The focus of this study is to analyze the energy flows related to cardoon oil processing based on the estimated electricity consumption. It was carried out in a prototype oilseed extraction plant located in Umbria Region, Italy. This installation consists of the following processes: seed weight-storage, transportation, sifting, milling, filtering, and oil storage. Approximately 49,000 kg dry basis (DB) of cardoon seeds (Cynara cardunculus) were processed. Cardoon seeds were chosen as a feedstock due to their sustainability characteristics. Before processing, samples of raw material were analyzed in terms of moisture, oil content, impurity, density, and lower heating value. The input–output flows were measured in terms of weight and energy consumption. Its data were used to perform the mass-energy balance and estimate the efficiency of processes. About 8505 kg of filtered oil was obtained from raw material. The efficiency of the process chain was 84.42% concerning the oil content in the seeds. For the same period, the plant required a total of 17,556 MJ of electric energy from the grid for its operation. 321,507 MJ were obtained from oil and 688,875 MJ from oilcake. About 5.48% of the energy produced by oil extraction was virtually used in the process. Full article
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Article
Characterization of Various Biomass Feedstock Suitable for Small-Scale Energy Plants as Preliminary Activity of Biocheaper Project
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6678; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166678 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 870
Abstract
The PRIN (Research Project with Relevant National Interest) project “Biocheaper—biomasses circular holistic economy approach to energy equipments” started in September 2019 and involves several universities: Palermo as the university coordinator, Perugia, Cassino, Enna, Pavia and Bolzano. The main goal of the project is [...] Read more.
The PRIN (Research Project with Relevant National Interest) project “Biocheaper—biomasses circular holistic economy approach to energy equipments” started in September 2019 and involves several universities: Palermo as the university coordinator, Perugia, Cassino, Enna, Pavia and Bolzano. The main goal of the project is to increase the energy efficiency and reduce the pollutants emissions in small-scale biomass plant for energy (heat and power) production. The project focuses on residual lignocellulosic feedstocks from the agriculture and forestry sector, from energy crops in marginal lands and residues from rivers maintenance. Starting from the selection and characterization of potential feedstocks, the project aims at developing some prototypes for retrofit applications in existing biomass boilers, like a mini-cyclone for the reduction of particulate emissions and an exhaust air-water condensing system for the recovery of water and the reuse in agriculture. This work presents the first results of the project, in particular regarding the selection and the chemical–physical characterization of different biomass, available in different zones of Italy; in particular the authors investigated cardoon chips, carthamus chips, olive and wine pruning, residues from rivers maintenance. Each biomass sample was characterized in terms of moisture content, ashes content, volatile substances, fixed carbon, low and high heating value, content of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and main metals. Full article
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Article
Insulating Organic Material as a Protection System against Late Frost Damages on the Vine Shoots
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6279; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156279 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 842
Abstract
Late frosts are one of the major impact factors on agriculture worldwide with large economic losses for agricultural crops, with a significant impact also in wine production. Given the importance of the wine sector in the world, more and more efforts are being [...] Read more.
Late frosts are one of the major impact factors on agriculture worldwide with large economic losses for agricultural crops, with a significant impact also in wine production. Given the importance of the wine sector in the world, more and more efforts are being made to identify innovative techniques capable of creating a low-cost and effective protection for vine shoots, as well as reducing energy consumption. In a previous work, cotton candy was identified as an insulating material to solve the problems related to late frosts on vineyards and limit its damages as much as possible. From the results of the previous research, it has proved that cotton candy is an excellent thermal insulator, but it degrades quickly in windy conditions. Thus, climatic tests carried out in windy condition showed that straw can greatly slow down the degradation of cotton candy over time, giving an indirect contribution to the protective effectiveness of cotton candy. In addition, several tests were conducted with different amounts of sugar and straw without wind to evaluate whether the straw can itself make a contribution in terms of thermal insulation, as well as contribute to the protective effectiveness of cotton candy, minimizing energy use as well. Full article
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Review

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Review
Shaping Multi-Level Energy and Climate Policy within the SET Plan Framework
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9545; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229545 - 17 Nov 2020
Viewed by 531
Abstract
At the dawn of a new European Green Deal (EGD), it is necessary to reconsider the plans and actions that have characterized the European energy policies during recent decades by tuning and updating the priorities and targets. The present work moves from the [...] Read more.
At the dawn of a new European Green Deal (EGD), it is necessary to reconsider the plans and actions that have characterized the European energy policies during recent decades by tuning and updating the priorities and targets. The present work moves from the systematic review of the documents, laws, and scientific studies concerning energy and climate initiatives to the analysis of the role of the Strategic Energy and Technology Plan (SET Plan) in the energy transition. Thus, the principal research question addresses the influence of the SET Plan on multi-level energy policies. To answer this, firstly, the juridical framework in which the SET Plan was instituted is provided; secondly, its correlation to the upcoming EDG is described and the targets identified by each Implementation Working Group (IWG) are discussed. Such a dissertation is followed by the investigation of the activities at various levels from the IWG on Renewable Fuels and Bioenergy. The study has confirmed that the SET Plan contributed to shaping the energy and climate policy at European, national, and regional levels by implementing synergies among different levels of governance, different sectors, and various stakeholders (both public and private). Furthermore, it eased the sharing of data on flagship projects by periodically monitoring the achieved results. Full article
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