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News Article | November 17, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

The decarbonisation of the transport sector presents a huge challenge for Europe, writes Paul Deane of the Environmental Research Institute in University College Cork, Ireland. Many people believe electric vehicles (EVs) are the answer, but according to Deane biofuels will need to deliver most of the targets for the time being. “EVs will have their day but it may be further down the road than we hoped.” When we think of renewable transport, we usually think of electric vehicles (EVs); Elon Musk’s Tesla, The LEAF and The Zoe spring to mind, however the reality is that bioenergy is fuelling Europe’s renewable transport ambition. While EVs are gaining market traction in some Member States across Europe, the numbers are still low (although Norway has the largest share of EVs in the world*). Around 79,000 electric vehicles[1] were newly registered in the EU in 2014, up by 40 % compared to 2013 with more than 17,200 vehicles in France. Nevertheless, electric vehicles continue to constitute only a very small fraction of new registrations (0.7 %) and Europe’s ambition to achieve 10% renewable energy in transport (RES-T) by 2020 is turning out to be one of the toughest targets to meet. Let’s look at the background and see why: The decarbonisation of transport presents a huge challenge for Europe. EU transport is responsible for about one third of final energy consumption (353 Mtoe), 23% of total EU emissions (excluding international maritime) and relies on oil for 94% of its energy needs. Transport also represents a big environmental concern in terms of air pollution. Road transport represented the largest source of NOx emissions in 2013 and one of the main sources of particulate matter PM2.5 emissions. So what are the EU’s plans for RES-T? The policy drivers to enable renewable transport are set out in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive which sets a binding target of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources for Member States by 2020 but also requires Member States to have at least 10% of their transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020 (weightings are allowed to be applied to certain biofuels, and only biofuels that meet specific sustainability criteria can be included). Today liquid biofuels in road transport make the largest contribution to the 10% RES-T target. Progress on the 10% RES-T target has been challenging, reaching a 5.7% share in 2014 with a number of Member States expected not to meet their RES-T targets[2] (the map above shows current gaps to target by Member State). Part of the reason for the slow progress to the targets is political uncertainty and discussions around the environmental effectiveness of certain biofuel pathways when emissions from indirect land use change are taken into account.  While the production of biofuels originally received strong encouragement from the Commission, current debates at both a European and national level have begun to identify their limitations. Also, when the 2020 RES-T targets were defined it was assumed that there would be significant developments in the area of second generation biofuels and that these fuels would make a substantial contribution towards the targets, however this has not materialized. Nevertheless, the role of bioenergy in transport is often overlooked and bioenergy from wastes, residues, and low indirect land use feedstocks (bio-liquids and biogas) will have an important role to play in renewable transport. For example, research from UCC’s (University College Cork) biofuels group shows how 1.1% of grassland in Ireland can allow 10% renewable energy supply in transport[3]. Bioenergy is especially relevant for the areas of transport which are difficult to electrify such as heavy transport, vans, public transport, aviation, and shipping. In all, these modes represented 42% of energy demand in the EU in 2015. Another part of the challenge that faces EVs is that current internal combustion engines (ICE) are improving in efficiency and, in effect, EV technology has to run fast just to stand still. European CO2 targets for vehicles are 95gCO2/km for cars as of 2021 and 147gCO2/km for vans as of 2020. The average level of emissions of a new car sold in Europe in 2014 was 121.6 gCO2/km[4], outperforming the 2015 target of 130 gCO2/km. This means that for EVs the carbon intensity of the supplied electricity should be less than about 480 g/kWh to achieve direct CO2 emission reductions (over a new ICE car) in 2020.  While recent events such as Volkswagen’s deliberate cheating of the emissions tests has led us to question the reliability of emissions estimates from cars, total emissions from road transport are estimated based on total fuel sold and are therefore robust. Taxation can be used to help displace fossil fuel in transport and encourage renewable fuels. Transport in Europe is predominantly diesel based (54%) and most EU Member States, except the UK, tax diesel at a lower rate than petrol per litre. Given that the energy and carbon content of a litre of diesel is higher, petrol attracts a higher tax per unit of energy or carbon emissions. From a decarbonisation of transport perspective, the lower tax rate on diesel fuel is hard to justify, especially given the higher emissions of carbon and of harmful air pollutants, notably particulate matter and NOx, per litre of fuel used. Post 2020 the policy landscape for renewable transport is uncertain. There will be no binding renewable energy EU targets at Member State level after 2020, however Member States will have binding emissions reduction targets for transport/heat/agriculture in the so called Non-ETS (EU Emission Trading System) sectors, as discussed here.  [Note that EVs move transport emissions from the Non-ETS into the ETS, as they rely on electricity generation, which falls under the ETS]. This will force Member States to have a closer look at emissions in transport but will more than likely encourage a focus on efficiency due to lower marginal abatement costs. The Commission has bounced around the idea of a blending obligation to promote the development of advanced renewable fuels which are not based on food crops[5] and time will tell whether this will be accepted politically. EVs are sure to play a big part in the decarbonisation of transport, however costs need to come down and widespread deployment (in the absence of very generous subsidies as in Norway) is unlikely in the short to medium term. Modelling by the Commission under the recent EU reference scenario shows electricity in road transport reaching only 1% (of energy in transport) by 2030. EVs will have their day but it may be further down the road than we hoped. Thanks to Eamonn Mulholland for edits. Paul Deane works at the Environmental Research Institute in University College Cork. He has been involved in the energy industry for 15 years in both commercial and academic research into the transition to low carbon energy systems from a technical, societal and an economic perspective. He is a member of the Insight_E group, a European, scientific and multidisciplinary think-tank for energy which informs the European Commission and other energy stakeholders. *In 2015, electric vehicles had a 22 % market share in Norway. This is first and foremost due to a substantial package of incentives developed to promote zero emission cars. [1] According to a JRC study based on EEA data. Includes battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric M1 and N1 vehicles [2] Pye, S., Deane, P., and Ó Gallachóir, B (2014). Europe’s renewable energy policies: Too much focus on renewable electricity? www.insightenergy.org/system/publication_files/files/000/000/006/original/HET_4_Final.pdf?1438176276 [3] Wall, D; O’Kiely, P; Murphy, JD (2013). ‘The potential for biomethane from grass and slurry to satisfy renewable energy targets.’ Bioresource Technology (149) 425-431 [4]European Environment Agency, “Monitoring CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and vans in 2014,” EEA, Luxembourg, 2015.


News Article | November 1, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

When we think of renewable transport, we usually think of electric vehicles (EVs); Elon Musk’s Tesla, The LEAF and The Zoe spring to mind, however the reality is that bioenergy is fuelling Europe’s renewable transport ambition. While EVs are gaining market traction in some Member States across Europe, the numbers are still low (although Norway has the largest share of EVs in the world*). Around 79,000 electric vehicles[1] were newly registered in the EU in 2014, up by 40 % compared to 2013 with more than 17,200 vehicles in France. Nevertheless, electric vehicles continue to constitute only a very small fraction of new registrations (0.7 %) and Europe’s ambition to achieve 10% renewable energy in transport (RES-T) by 2020 is turning out to be one of the toughest targets to meet. Let’s look at the background and see why: The decarbonisation of transport presents a huge challenge for Europe. EU transport is responsible for about one third of final energy consumption (353 Mtoe), 23% of total EU emissions (excluding international maritime) and relies on oil for 94% of its energy needs. Transport also represents a big environmental concern in terms of air pollution. Road transport represented the largest source of NOx emissions in 2013 and one of the main sources of particulate matter PM2.5 emissions. So what are the EU’s plans for RES-T? The policy drivers to enable renewable transport are set out in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive which sets a binding target of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources for Member States by 2020 but also requires Member States to have at least 10% of their transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020 (weightings are allowed to be applied to certain biofuels, and only biofuels that meet specific sustainability criteria can be included). Today liquid biofuels in road transport make the largest contribution to the 10% RES-T target. Progress on the 10% RES-T target has been challenging, reaching a 5.7% share in 2014 with a number of Member States expected not to meet their RES-T targets[2] (the map above shows current gaps to target by Member State). Part of the reason for the slow progress to the targets is political uncertainty and discussions around the environmental effectiveness of certain biofuel pathways when emissions from indirect land use change are taken into account.  While the production of biofuels originally received strong encouragement from the Commission, current debates at both a European and national level have begun to identify their limitations.  Also, when the 2020 RES-T targets were defined it was assumed that there would be significant developments in the area of second generation biofuels and that these fuels would make a substantial contribution towards the targets, however this has not materialized. Nevertheless, the role of bioenergy in transport is often overlooked and bioenergy from wastes, residues, and low indirect land use feedstocks (bio-liquids and biogas) will have an important role to play in renewable transport. For example, research from UCC’s biofuels group shows how 1.1% of grassland in Ireland can allow 10% renewable energy supply in transport[3]. Bioenergy is especially relevant for the areas of transport which are difficult to electrify such as heavy transport, vans, public transport, aviation, and shipping. In all, these modes represented 42% of energy demand in the EU in 2015. Another part of the challenge that face EVs is that current internal combustion engines (ICE) are improving in efficiency and, in effect, EV technology has to run fast just to stand still. European CO2 targets for vehicles are 95gCO2/km for cars as of 2021 and 147gCO2/km for vans as of 2020. The average level of emissions of a new car sold in Europe in 2014 was 121.6 gCO2/km[4], outperforming the 2015 target of 130 gCO2/km. This means that for EVs the carbon intensity of the supplied electricity should be less than about 480 g/kWh to achieve direct CO2 emission reductions (over a new ICE car) in 2020.  While recent events such as Volkswagen’s deliberate cheating of the emissions tests has led us to question the reliability of emissions estimates from cars, total emissions from road transport are estimated based on total fuel sold and are therefore robust. Taxation can be used to help displace fossil fuel in transport and encourage renewable fuels. Transport in Europe is predominantly diesel based (54%) and most EU Member States, except the UK, tax diesel at a lower rate than petrol per litre. Given that the energy and carbon content of a litre of diesel is higher, petrol attracts a higher tax per unit of energy or carbon emissions. From a decarbonisation of transport perspective, the lower tax rate on diesel fuel is hard to justify, especially given the higher emissions of carbon and of harmful air pollutants, notably particulate matter and NOx, per litre of fuel used. Post 2020 the policy landscape for renewable transport is uncertain. There will be no binding renewable energy EU targets at Member State level after 2020, however Member States will have binding emissions reduction targets for transport/heat/agriculture in the so called Non-ETS sectors, as discussed here.  [Note that EVs move transport emissions from the Non-ETS into the ETS]. This will force Member States to have a closer look at emissions in transport but will more than likely encourage a focus on efficiency due to lower marginal abatement costs. The Commission has bounced around the idea of a blending obligation to promote the development of advanced renewable fuels which are not based on food crops[5] and time will tell whether this has will be accepted politically. EVs are sure to play a big part in the decarbonisation of transport, however costs need to come down  and widespread deployment (in the absence of very generous subsidies as in Norway) is unlikely in the short to medium term. Modelling by the Commission under the recent EU reference scenario shows electricity in road transport reaching only 1% (of energy in transport) by 2030….EVs will have their day but it may be further down the road than we hoped. Thanks to Eamonn Mulholland for edits. *In 2015, electric vehicles had a 22 % market share in Norway. This is first and foremost due to a substantial package of incentives developed to promote zero emission cars. [1] According to a JRC study based on EEA data. Includes battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric M1 and N1 vehicles [2] Pye, S., Deane, P., and Ó Gallachóir, B (2014). Europe’s renewable energy policies: Too much focus on renewable electricity? www.insightenergy.org/system/publication_files/files/000/000/006/original/HET_4_Final.pdf?1438176276 [3] Wall, D; O’Kiely, P; Murphy, JD (2013). ‘The potential for biomethane from grass and slurry to satisfy renewable energy targets.’ Bioresource Technology (149) 425-431 [4]European Environment Agency, “Monitoring CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and vans in 2014,” EEA, Luxembourg, 2015.


News Article | December 19, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Genetic cause that identifies dystonia patients who can benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation uncovered by UCL, Great Ormond Street Hospital and University of Cambridge researchers using the NIHR Rare Disease Bioresource DNA sequencing has defined a new genetic disorder that affects movement, enabling patients with dystonia -- a disabling condition that affects voluntary movement -- to be targeted for treatment that brings remarkable improvements, including restoring independent walking. A team of researchers from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University of Cambridge and the NIHR Rare Disease Bioresource have identified mutations in a gene, called KMT2B, in 28 patients with dystonia. In most cases, the patients -- many of whom were young children who were thought to have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy -- were unable to walk without difficulty. Remarkably, for some patients, treatment with Deep Brain Stimulation, in which electrical impulses are delivered to a specific brain region involved in movement, either restored or significantly improved independent walking and improved hand and arm movement. In one patient, improvements have been sustained over six years. Given these observations, the team now suggest that testing for mutations in the gene should form part of standard testing for patients with dystonia, as this is emerging to be one of the commonest genetic causes of childhood-onset dystonia. The research is published in Nature Genetics on Monday 19 December 2016. Dystonia is one of the commonest movement disorders and is thought to affect 70,000 people in the UK alone. It can cause a wide range of disabling symptoms, including painful muscle spasms and abnormal postures, and can affect walking and speech. Through research testing of patients, the team discovered a region of chromosome 19 that was deleted from the genome of some patients with childhood-onset dystonia. Together with the NIHR Rare Disease Bioresource and international collaborators, the team then identified abnormal genetic changes in genomes from a further 18 patients in one gene, called KMT2B, where affected patients carried a mutated in their DNA. "Through DNA sequencing, we have identified a new genetic movement disorder that can be treated with Deep Brain Stimulation. This can dramatically improve the lives of children with the condition and enable them to have a wider range of movement with long-lasting effects," says Dr Manju Kurian, paediatric neurologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Wellcome Trust-funded researcher at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. "Our results, though in a relatively small group of patients, show the power of genomic research not only to identify new diseases, but also to reveal possible approaches that will allow other patients to benefit." The KMT2B protein is thought to alter the activity of other genes. The team believes that the mutations impair the ability of the KMT2B protein to carry out its normal, crucial role in controlling the expression of genes involved in voluntary movement. A number of patients were previously thought to have cerebral palsy prior to confirmation of their genetic diagnosis. Such uncertainty could be addressed by looking for KMT2B mutations as part of a diagnostic approach. Although affected patients have been found to have a mutation in their DNA, this severe condition is rarely inherited from either parent but usually occurs for the first time in the affected child. "Most patients show a progressive disease course with worsening dystonia over time," continues Dr Kurian. "Many patients did not show any response to the usual medications that we use for dystonia so we knew we would have to consider other strategies. We know, from our experience with other patients with dystonia, that Deep Brain Stimulation might improve our patient's symptoms, so were keen to see what response patients would have to this type of treatment." "Remarkably nearly all patients who had Deep Brain Stimulation showed considerable improvements. One patient was able to walk independently within two weeks; in five patients, the improvement has lasted for more than three years. It is an astounding result." Given the dramatic effects seen in their patients with this newly defined genetic condition, the team propose that referral for assessment of Deep Brain Stimulation should be considered for all patients with a mutation in KMT2B. In the future, the team hopes that, by diagnosing additional patients, the full spectrum of this new condition will be more apparent and patients and their families might see real benefit. "It is only through the amazing generosity and efforts of patients and their families that we can begin to search for better answers and treatments: we admire their contribution," says Professor Raymond, Assistant Director of the NIHR Bioresource for Rare Diseases and Professor of Medical Genetics and Neurodevelopment at the University of Cambridge. "Through participating in our research, they have helped us to identify patients with KMT2B-related dystonia, meaning we can aim for a more "precision medicine approach" to target treatment with Deep Brain Stimulation to those likely to benefit: most importantly, we would anticipate improvement in many of those treated. "The lesson from our study is simple and clear: because confirming this diagnosis has implications for therapy, we should test all patients with suspected genetic dystonia for mutations in KMT2B." Meyer E, Carss KJ, Rankin J et al. (2016) Mutations in the Histone Methyltransferase Gene, KMT2B Cause Early Onset Dystonia. Nature Genetics. doi: 10.1038/ng.3740 A full list of participating centres can be found at the Nature Genetics website. About the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH) The UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health is part of the Faculty of Population Health Sciences within the School of Life and Medical Sciences at UCL. Together with its clinical partner Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH), it forms the largest concentration of children's health research in Europe. The research studies were undertaken as part of the NIHR BioResource. The NIHR BioResource (http://bioresource. ) functions as a partnership between the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres at Imperial College London, King's/Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals London, Newcastle Hospitals, South London and Maudsley Hospitals, Oxford University Hospitals, University College London Hospitals and the Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit in Leicester. The NIHR BioResource, which currently includes over 100,000 research patients and volunteers and over 10,000 Individuals with rare genetic diseases most of whom have undergone analysis of their genome. About the University of Cambridge The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 96 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize. Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. Cambridge is a global university. Its 19,000 student body includes 3,700 international students from 120 countries. Cambridge researchers collaborate with colleagues worldwide, and the University has established larger-scale partnerships in Asia, Africa and America. The University sits at the heart of one of the world's largest technology clusters. The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' has created 1,500 hi-tech companies, 14 of them valued at over US$1 billion and two at over US$10 billion. Cambridge promotes the interface between academia and business, and has a global reputation for innovation. http://www. About Cambridge University Hospitals and the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre Based within the most outstanding NHS and University partnerships in the country, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres are leaders in scientific translation. They receive substantial levels of funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to translate fundamental biomedical research into clinical research that benefits patients and they are early adopters of new insights in technologies, techniques and treatments for improving health. The Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (http://www. ) coordinates the NIHR BioResource.


The all-in-one wastewater treatment system developed by Masdar Institute’s Dr. Shadi Wajih Hasan, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, is being further enhanced in an effort to advance the field of wastewater purification. Dr. Hasan’s advanced system, known as a submerged membrane electro-bioreactor, or an SMEBR, is an integrated hybrid wastewater treatment unit that is significantly more efficient at treating wastewater and considerably less susceptible to fouling, which is the unwanted build-up of salt and bio-material on a membrane that reduces the membrane’s ability to filter impurities. An SMEBR is an electrically enhanced membrane bioreactor (MBR), which is a novel wastewater treatment technology. While an MBR combines membrane processes like microfiltration with biological treatment processes to purify wastewater for a high quality effluent, an SMEBR adds a third electrokinetic process, which employs an electric current to remove various contaminants from wastewater. The SMEBR is able to generate higher quality treated wastewater while consuming less energy than an MBR, as the inclusion of the enhanced biological and electrokinetic processes reduce the system’s dependency on primary- and secondary-related treatment operations. Dr. Hasan contributed to the development of the first SMEBR system at a pilot scale during his doctoral studies at the University of Concordia in Canada and has continued his work to enhance and improve the SMEBR while at MI, with a focus on optimizing the system for efficient operation in the UAE. Dr. Hasan and his colleagues have published over 20 papers on this topic in international journals and conference proceedings like Nature Scientific Reports, Bioresource Technology, Chemosphere, Electrochimica Acta, Environmental Management and Environmental Sciences. One of those articles, which is co-authored by his PhD student Adewale Giwa, has remained in the first place among the top 20 articles in the BioMedLib search engine in the domain of membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment since 2015. Interest t in Dr. Hasan’s SMEBR work is also evidenced by the recent publication of a review article on the topic of electrochemical processes with MBRs, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science in August 2016 by a team of researchers from Italy and the Philippines. A review article summarizes previously published studies and provides the current state of understanding on a particular research topic. When a review article is published, it signifies that a rising number of scientists are showing interest in the particular research topic. “The publishing of a review article that focuses heavily on my SMEBR work reflects the fact that the field is becoming more important globally and that several researchers around the world have started working with the same wastewater technology,” Dr. Hasan remarked. In his efforts to further advance the lab-scale SMEBR system developed at MI, Dr. Hasan has worked with Giwa to develop the first numerical computer-based model of the SMEBR. The model simulates the removal process of contaminants, such as organic and inorganic compounds, as wastewater passes through the SMEBR unit and models the effects of the SMEBR processes on the quality of the effluent, which is the discharged water. The SMEBR model showed that the effluent produced by the novel technology had the lowest concentrations of ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorous and metals compared to the effluent produced by the two other most common treatment processes, including the conventional activated sludge process and the MBR process. The model was then validated through experimental work that produced similar results to what the model predicted. “To create our model, we had to develop different models that represent each of the three treatment processes used in a SMEBR system and integrate them so that they work collaboratively to predict the performance of the reactor, and this has never been done before,” Dr. Hasan explained. The model enables a better understanding of how an SMEBR system will react to different wastewater qualities and would be particularly useful for optimizing the design and construction of wastewater treatment plants that plan to leverage SMEBR technologies. To further advance the efficacy and efficiency of the SMEBR technology to produce high quality water, Dr. Hasan is working with MSc in Chemical Engineering student Menatalla Ahmed to enhance the hybrid system with a second treatment cycle – a post-treatment process that utilizes nanotechnology. The project was initiated in collaboration with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with the intent to improve the quality of the effluent produced by the SMEBR system by coupling nanowire filtration – which are filters made of thin manganese dioxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles – as a post-treatment process. “The nanowire material developed through this project has already demonstrated a strong ability to eliminate the pollution caused by the presence of heavy metals and organic contents in wastewater,” Dr. Hasan said. “An integration technology combining this with the SMEBR system offers great potential for wastewater treatment.” Currently, Masdar Institute MSc and PhD students are also testing other nanomaterials to optimize the post-treatment membrane based nano-filtration. Dr. Hasan is currently working to integrate the SMEBR unit and nano-filtration to develop a prototype to begin pilot testing the integrated system. By leveraging Dr. Hasan’s expertise, Masdar Institute is developing an innovative wastewater treatment system and is contributing to the advancement of scientific knowledge of novel water technologies. The work being conducted by Dr. Hasan and his team is supporting the development of a resilient water infrastructure in the UAE while strengthening the country’s position as a global leader in treated wastewater reuse.


News Article | November 28, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

Doctors in Scotland are working to improve mesothelioma diagnosis by creating a list of biomarkers to identify the disease. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted an article on the newly-announced study. Click here to read it now. The trial will involve up to 120 pleural mesothelioma patients as well as 480 people with other pleural diseases and 109 asbestos-exposed people. Everyone involved in the trial will submit a blood sample and undergo a clinical exam. “Blood levels will be compared with paired pleural fluid levels and malignant pleural mesothelioma tumor volume (using MRI) in a nested substudy,” explains researcher Selina Tsim of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. The trial announced in the British Medical Journal’s open access online-only journal BMJ Open will be carried out at 22 recruiting centers across Scotland. “There is a tremendous need for more reliable biomarkers for mesothelioma diagnosis and prognosis, especially since diagnostic procedures like thoracoscopy are not available everywhere and are expensive,” says Alex Strauss, Managing Editor of Surviving Mesothelioma. Learn more about the new biomarker study, including some of the biomarkers researchers will be looking at closely, in the article New Clinical Trial Aims to Create Bioresource for Improved Mesothelioma Diagnosis, now available on the Surviving Mesothelioma website. Tsim, S, et al, “Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers in the Rational Assessment of Mesothelioma (DIAPHRAGM) study: protocol of a prospective, multicentre, observational study”, November 24, 2016, BMJ Open, http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e013324.full For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.


News Article | August 22, 2016
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

Like a lot of folks out there, I’m a collector. I spend a great deal of my free time tracking down rare comic books, out-of-print novels, Navajo pottery and unique artwork. I even tried stamp collecting, but as fun as that was for a little while I just never found the bug. Maybe I was doing it wrong. You see, my small stamp collection was achingly random. I had stamps from around the world, but they were collected willy-nilly, without much thought or planning. A theme, on the other hand, might have not only grabbed my attention more strongly, it might have actually done some good in the world. That’s the point made by M. Eric Ramanujam, principal investigator for Pitchandikulam Bioresource Centre in India, in a delightful new paper published last month in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. Ramanujam, you see, is a researcher studying the Indian eagle owl (Bubo bengalensis). He’s also a philatelist, the term for a person who collects rare stamps. Stamps are where Ramanujam’s two passions collide. He doesn’t have an un-themed, easily neglected collection. The stamps he has acquired over the years all depict owls from around the world. Their images, and their stories, illustrate almost every page of Ramanujam’s paper. There’s the greater sooty owl (Tyto tenebricosa), depicted with haunting eyes in a stamp from Papua New Guinea. A stamp from Zimbabwe presents us with an image of the mysterious-looking African scops owl (Otus senegalensis). Another stamp from Tanzanian honors the extinct South Island whekau (Sceloglaux albifacies albifacies) of New Zealand. A Blakiston’s fish owl (Bubo blakistoni) sits atop a snow-covered tree in a stamp from Japan. An entire series showcases the owls of Namibia. Of course, a scientific paper such as this isn’t the only opportunity philatelists have to share their collections. As the paper points out, philatelists can join philatelic societies and display or even competitively exhibit their stamps. Many collectors have unique niches—Ramanujam says he’s one of the few owl-stamp collectors—so displaying them draws attention and maybe even awards. The display may also inspire a broader message. As he writes, the satisfaction one gains from a collection—especially an owl-themed one such as his—may derive from the “impact it has on those who view and appreciate a collection.” He doesn’t mention if his own collection has had that particular impact, but he cites a 16-year-old philatelist named Jesse Chevrier of Canada whose own owl-themed collection exhibit “was given the 2013 ‘Youth Grand Champion of Champions’ award by the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors.” (You can see Chevrier’s collection and his notes about each stamp here.) I don’t know how many people will suddenly become philatelists upon reading this paper, but I can say that Ramanujam’s collection presents a wonderful opportunity for education and illumination. His captions for the illustrations in his paper not only bring the stamps to life, but also the owls. Ramanujam writes that stamp collecting can be financially draining, but the emotional satisfaction created by a successful display can help to offset that cost. And as people read about the stamps in philatelists’ collections, it may also inspire them to learn more about the creatures they depict. Will that turn them into conservationists? That’s hard to say, of course, but it certainly can’t hurt.


Abdul Khalil H.P.S.,Bioresource | Yusra A.F.I.,Bioresource | Bhat A.H.,Bioresource | Jawaid M.,Bioresource
Industrial Crops and Products | Year: 2010

The basic characteristics and physical properties of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) fibers cultivated in the region of Penang, Malaysia were analyzed. For fundamental analysis, which includes nano-scale viewing for identification of kenaf cell wall ultra structure, fibers were viewed under transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Light microscopy (LM) was used to observe the physical characteristics, anatomy, and lignin distribution. Anatomical study was further carried out by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Kenaf plants had a maximum height of 2.50 m, with a mean basal diameter of 1.74 cm. The wood (core) is the most abundant tissue with proportions up to 78% in cross-section area and up to 68.5% in weight. The mean dry density of stems was found to be 0.29 g/cm3, while that of core was 0.21 g/cm3 along the stems. A combination of LM and image analysis techniques was used to measure cell wall thickness and fiber length of the bast and core fibers. The fiber length of the bast was found to be longest (3637 μm) as compared to the core (1100 μm). Vessel members average 284 μm in length and 72 μm in diameter. The chemical composition was determined according to Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) methods. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy was used to determine the functional groups present in the kenaf fiber samples. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Bhat R.,Universiti Sains Malaysia | Abdullah N.,Universiti Sains Malaysia | Din R.H.,Bioresource | Tay G.-S.,Bioresource
Journal of Food Engineering | Year: 2013

Poor mechanical and barrier properties of starch-based films can be improved by incorporating natural polymer such as lignin. In the present study, novel food packaging films were prepared by casting method from sago palm (Metroxylon sagu) starch (as film matrix with 30% w/w glycerol as plasticizer) by adding lignin isolated from oil palm black liquor waste (from empty fruit bunch), as a reinforcing material (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5% v/w). Results showed packaging films produced by incorporation of isolated lignin to improve selected thermo-mechanical and barrier properties with significant reduction in water vapor permeability, and improved water resistance and seal strength. It is concluded that lignin isolated from oil palm black liquor waste to have great potential to be explored for food packaging purposes. Moreover, this packaging film will be more economical and environmental friendly. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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