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1.Unlocking key factors affecting utilization of biomass briquettes in Africa through SWOT and analytic hierarchy process: A case of Madagascar

Author:Yu,Shiwang;Lew,Vince;Ma,Wenting;Bao,Zhikang;Hao,Jian Li


Abstract:Due to environmental pollution caused by the excessive use of fossil fuels, developing countries are under considerable pressure to find sources of renewable and clean energy with limited financial resources and inadequate technological capacity. Bioenergy from briquetting sawdust, an organic waste by-product of the lumber industry, is one source of renewable and clean energy that is inexpensive to produce and does not require sophisticated technology. Since Madagascar's main industry is lumber, this study therefore set out to identify the key factors affecting the production and use of biomass sawdust briquettes in that country by integrating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis with a multi-criteria decision-making technique known as analytic hierarchy process (AHP). The results indicate that the most critical SWOT factors are lack of knowledge about biomass briquettes, lack of government support, political instability, social acceptance of biomass briquettes, focusing more on other types of renewable energy, and fossil fuel incentives. Suggestions are offered for how to promote the production and use of sawdust briquettes by overcoming critical weaknesses and coping with threats revealed in this study, including providing financial subsidies and tax breaks in Africa.

2.Uniform arrays of centre-type topological domains in epitaxial ferroelectric thin films

Author:Li, Zhongwen ; Shen, Hui ; Dawson, Graham ; Zhang, Zhengzhong ; Wang, Yanzong ; Nan, Feng ; Song, Guang ; Li, Guannan ; Wu, Yangjiang ; Liu, Hao

Source:Journal of Materials Chemistry C,2022,Vol.10

Abstract:Topological domains in ferroelectric materials have attracted considerable interest owing to their exotic functionalities. In this study, using vector piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), we observe spontaneous ferroelectric topological domains in epitaxial BiFeO3 thin films with two different intrinsic domain structures ('mosaic-like' and 'stripe-like'). These domains contain three typical topological arrangements centre-convergent domains, centre-divergent domains, and double-centre domains. These spontaneous centre domains in ferroelectrics can be explained via the 'Ashkin-Teller' model, in which very large interfacial lattice mismatch strains and local electric fields play a role. The uniform arrays of centre domain structure and reversible switching of these centre domains are demonstrated utilizing the radial electric field generated by the PFM tip bias. In the film with 'mosaic-like' intrinsic domains, the domain diameter increases significantly from 118 to 306 nm and from 158 to 300 nm for -8 V and +8 V tip voltage respectively, as the pulse increases from 0.3 to 10 s. In the film with 'stripe-like' intrinsic domains, the domain diameter increases slowly from 79 to 174 nm and from 98 to 149 nm for -9 V and +9 V tip voltage respectively, as the pulse increases from 0.3 s to 25 s. Measurements of retention characteristics indicate that most of these topological domain states are stable for the entire 15000 min duration in the atmosphere, assisted by the movement and enrichment of compensating charges from defect ions in the films and environment. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.

3.Simultaneously Achieving Highly Efficient and Stable Polymer:Non-Fullerene Solar Cells Enabled By Molecular Structure Optimization and Surface Passivation

Author:Liu, BW;Su, X;Lin, Y;Li, ZR;Yan, LP;Han, YF;Luo, Q;Fang, J;Yang, SF;Tan, HW;Ma, CQ

Source:ADVANCED SCIENCE,2022,Vol.9

Abstract:Despite the tremendous efforts in developing non-fullerene acceptor (NFA) for polymer solar cells (PSCs), only few researches are done on studying the NFA molecular structure dependent stability of PSCs, and long-term stable PSCs are only reported for the cells with low efficiency. Herein, the authors compare the stability of inverted PM6:NFA solar cells using ITIC, IT-4F, Y6, and N3 as the NFA, and a decay rate order of IT-4F > Y6 approximate to N3 > ITIC is measured. Quantum chemical calculations reveal that fluorine substitution weakens the CC bond and enhances the interaction between NFA and ZnO, whereas the beta-alkyl chains on the thiophene unit next to the CC linker blocks the attacking of hydroxyl radicals onto the CC bonds. Knowing this, the authors choose a bulky alkyl side chain containing molecule (named L8-BO) as the acceptor, which shows slower photo bleaching and performance decay rates. A combination of ZnO surface passivation with phenylethanethiol (PET) yields a high efficiency of 17%% and an estimated long T-80 and Ts-80 of 5140 and 6170 h, respectively. The results indicate functionalization of the beta-position of the thiophene unit is an effective way to improve device stability of the NFA.

4.Immobilized enzyme/microorganism complexes for degradation of microplastics A review of recent advances, feasibility and future prospects

Author:Tang, Kuok Ho Daniel ; Lock, Serene Sow Mun ; Yap, Pow-Seng ; Cheah, Kin Wai ; Chan, Yi Herng ; Yiin, Chung Loong ; Ku, Andrian Zi En ; Loy, Adrian Chun Minh ; Chin, Bridgid Lai Fui ; Chai, Yee Ho

Source:Science of the Total Environment,2022,Vol.832

Environmental prevalence of microplastics has prompted the development of novel methods for their removal, one of which involves immobilization of microplastics-degrading enzymes. Various materials including nanomaterials have been studied for this purpose but there is currently a lack of review to present these studies in an organized manner to highlight the advances and feasibility. This article reviewed more than 100 peer-reviewed scholarly papers to elucidate the latest advances in the novel application of immobilized enzyme/microorganism complexes for microplastics degradation, its feasibility and future prospects. This review shows that metal nanoparticle-enzyme complexes improve biodegradation of microplastics in most studies through creating photogenerated radicals to facilitate polymer oxidation, accelerating growth of bacterial consortia for biodegradation, anchoring enzymes and improving their stability, and absorbing water for hydrolysis. In a study, the antimicrobial property of nanoparticles retarded the growth of microorganisms, hence biodegradation. Carbon particle-enzyme complexes enable enzymes to be immobilized on carbon-based support or matrix through covalent bonding, adsorption, entrapment, encapsulation, and a combination of the mechanisms, facilitated by formation of cross-links between enzymes. These complexes were shown to improve microplastics-degrading efficiency and recyclability of enzymes. Other emerging nanoparticles and/or enzymatic technologies are fusion of enzymes with hydrophobins, polymer binding module, peptide and novel nanoparticles. Nonetheless, the enzymes in the complexes present a limiting factor due to limited understanding of the degradation mechanisms. Besides, there is a lack of studies on the degradation of polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride. Genetic bioengineering and metagenomics could provide breakthrough in this area. This review highlights the optimism of using immobilized enzymes/microorganisms to increase the efficiency of microplastics degradation but optimization of enzymatic or microbial activities and synthesis of immobilized enzymes/microorganisms are crucial to overcome the barriers to their wide application.
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.
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