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Development and Future Challenges of Bio-Syncretic Robots
Chuang Zhang, Wenxue Wang, Ning Xi, Yuechao Wang, Lianqing Liu
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 452-463.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.005
Abstract   PDF (938KB)

Bio-syncretic robots consisting of both living biological materials and non-living systems possess desirable attributes such as high energy efficiency, intrinsic safety, high sensitivity, and self-repairing capabilities. Compared with living biological materials or non-living traditional robots based on electromechanical systems, the combined system of a bio-syncretic robot holds many advantages. Therefore, developing bio-syncretic robots has been a topic of great interest, and significant progress has been achieved in this area over the past decade. This review systematically summarizes the development of bio-syncretic robots. First, potential trends in the development of bio-syncretic robots are discussed. Next, the current performance of bio-syncretic robots, including simple movement and controllability of velocity and direction, is reviewed. The living biological materials and non-living materials that are used in bio-syncretic robots, and the corresponding fabrication methods, are then discussed. In addition, recently developed control methods for bio-syncretic robots, including physical and chemical control methods, are described. Finally, challenges in the development of bio-syncretic robots are discussed from multiple viewpoints, including sensing and intelligence, living and non-living materials, control approaches, and information technology.

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A Hardware Platform Framework for an Intelligent Vehicle Based on a Driving Brain
Deyi Li, Hongbo Gao
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 464-470.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.015
Abstract   PDF (1936KB)

The type, model, quantity, and location of sensors installed on the intelligent vehicle test platform are different, resulting in different sensor information processing modules. The driving map used in intelligent vehicle test platform has no uniform standard, which leads to different granularity of driving map information. The sensor information processing module is directly associated with the driving map information and decision-making module, which leads to the interface of intelligent driving system software module has no uniform standard. Based on the software and hardware architecture of intelligent vehicle, the sensor information and driving map information are processed by using the formal language of driving cognition to form a driving situation graph cluster and output to a decision-making module, and the output result of the decision-making module is shown as a cognitive arrow cluster, so that the whole process of intelligent driving from perception to decision-making is completed. The formalization of driving cognition reduces the influence of sensor type, model, quantity, and location on the whole software architecture, which makes the software architecture portable on different intelligent driving hardware platforms.

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Unpowered Knee Exoskeleton Reduces Quadriceps Activity during Cycling
Ronnapee Chaichaowarat, Jun Kinugawa, Kazuhiro Kosuge
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 471-478.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.011
Abstract   PDF (3420KB)

Cycling is an eco-friendly method of transport and recreation. With the intent of reducing the energy cost of cycling without providing an additional energy source, we have proposed the use of a torsion spring for knee-extension support. We developed an exoskeleton prototype using a crossing four-bar mechanism as a knee joint with an embedded torsion spring. This study evaluates the passive knee exoskeleton using constant-power cycling tests performed by eight healthy male participants. We recorded the surface electromyography over the rectus femoris muscles of both legs, while the participants cycled at 200 and 225W on a trainer with the developed wheel-accelerating system. We then analyzed these data in time–frequency via a continuous wavelet transform. At the same cycling speed and leg cadence, the median power spectral frequency of the electromyography increases with cycling load. At the same cycling load, the median power spectral frequency decreases when cycling with the exoskeleton. Quadriceps activity can be relieved despite the exoskeleton consuming no electrical energy and not delivering net-positive mechanical work. This fundamental can be applied to the further development of wearable devices for cycling assistance.

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A Co-Point Mapping-Based Approach to Drivable Area Detection for Self-Driving Cars
Ziyi Liu, Siyu Yu, Nanning Zheng
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 479-490.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.010
Abstract   PDF (4008KB)

The randomness and complexity of urban traffic scenes make it a difficult task for self-driving cars to detect drivable areas. Inspired by human driving behaviors, we propose a novel method of drivable area detection for self-driving cars based on fusing pixel information from a monocular camera with spatial information from a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) scanner. Similar to the bijection of collineation, a new concept called co-point mapping, which is a bijection that maps points from the LIDAR scanner to points on the edge of the image segmentation, is introduced in the proposed method. Our method positions candidate drivable areas through self-learning models based on the initial drivable areas that are obtained by fusing obstacle information with superpixels. In addition, a fusion of four features is applied in order to achieve a more robust performance. In particular, a feature called drivable degree (DD) is proposed to characterize the drivable degree of the LIDAR points. After the initial drivable area is characterized by the features obtained through self-learning, a Bayesian framework is utilized to calculate the final probability map of the drivable area. Our approach introduces no common hypothesis and requires no training steps; yet it yields a state-of-art performance when tested on the ROAD-KITTI benchmark. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method is a general and efficient approach for detecting drivable area.

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Control of Velocity-Constrained Stepper Motor-Driven Hilare Robot for Waypoint Navigation
Robins Mathew, Somashekhar S. Hiremath
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 491-499.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.013
Abstract   PDF (1659KB)

Finding an optimal trajectory from an initial point to a final point through closely packed obstacles, and controlling a Hilare robot through this trajectory, are challenging tasks. To serve this purpose, path planners and trajectory-tracking controllers are usually included in a control loop. This paper highlights the implementation of a trajectory-tracking controller on a stepper motor-driven Hilare robot, with a trajectory that is described as a set of waypoints. The controller was designed to handle discrete waypoints with directional discontinuity and to consider different constraints on the actuator velocity. The control parameters were tuned with the help of multi-objective particle swarm optimization to minimize the average cross-track error and average linear velocity error of the mobile robot when tracking a predefined trajectory. Experiments were conducted to control the mobile robot from a start position to a destination position along a trajectory described by the waypoints. Experimental results for tracking the trajectory generated by a path planner and the trajectory specified by a user are also demonstrated. Experiments conducted on the mobile robot validate the effectiveness of the proposed strategy for tracking different types of trajectories.

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The Potential Role of Powdery Mildew-Resistance Gene Pm40 in Chinese Wheat-Breeding Programs in the Post-Pm21 Era
Shengwen Tang, Yuting Hu, Shengfu Zhong, Peigao Luo
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 500-506.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.06.004
Abstract   PDF (607KB)

Powdery mildew, which is caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt), is an important leaf disease that affects wheat yield. Powdery mildew-resistance (Pm) gene Pm21 was first transferred into wheat in the 1980s, by translocating the Heuchera villosa chromosome arm 6VS to the wheat chromosome arm 6AL (6VS6AL). Recently, new Bgt isolates that are virulent to Pm21 have been identified in some wheat fields, indicating that wheat breeders should be aware of the risk of deploying Pm21, although pathological details regarding these virulent isolates still remain to be discovered. Pm40 was identified and mapped on the wheat chromosome arm 7BS from several wheat lines developed from the progenies of a wild cross between wheat and Thinopyrum intermedium. Pm40 offers a broad spectrum of resistance to Bgt, which suggests that it is likely to provide potentially durable resistance. Cytological methods did not detect any large alien chromosomal segment in the wheat lines carrying Pm40. Lines with Pm40 and promising agronomical traits have been released by several wheat-breeding programs in the past several years. Therefore, we believe that Pm40 will play a role in powdery mildew-resistance wheat breeding after Pm21 resistance is overcome by Bgt isolates. In addition, both Pm21 and Pm40 were derived from alien species, suggesting that the resistance genes derived from alien species are potentially more durable or effective than those identified from wheat.

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Development of Perennial Wheat Through Hybridization Between Wheat and Wheatgrasses: A Review
 
Lei Cui, Yongkang Ren, Timothy D. Murray, Wenze Yan, Qing Guo, Yuqi Niu, Yu Sun, Hongjie Li
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 507-513.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.003
Abstract   PDF (1744KB)

Wheatgrasses (Thinopyrum spp.), which are relatives of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), have a perennial growth habit and offer resistance to a diversity of biotic and abiotic stresses, making them useful in wheat improvement. Many of these desirable traits from Thinopyrum spp. have been used to develop wheat cultivars by introgression breeding. The perennial growth habit of wheatgrasses inherits as a complex quantitative trait that is controlled by many unknown genes. Previous studies have indicated that Thinopyrum spp. are able to hybridize with wheat and produce viable/stable amphiploids or partial amphiploids. Meanwhile, efforts have been made to develop perennial wheat by domestication of Thinopyrum spp. The most promising perennial wheat–Thinopyrum lines can be used as grain and/or forage crops, which combine the desirable traits of both parents. The wheat–Thinopyrum lines can adapt to diverse agricultural systems. This paper summarizes the development of perennial wheat based on Thinopyrum, and the genetic aspects, breeding methods, and perspectives of wheat–Thinopyrum hybrids.

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Developing Wheat for Improved Yield and Adaptation Under a Changing Climate: Optimization of a Few Key Genes
M.A.N. Nazim Ud Dowla, Ian Edwards, Graham O’Hara, Shahidul Islam, Wujun Ma
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 514-522.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.06.005
Abstract   PDF (709KB)

Wheat grown under rain-fed conditions is often affected by drought worldwide. Future projections from a climate simulation model predict that the combined effects of increasing temperature and changing rainfall patterns will aggravate this drought scenario and may significantly reduce wheat yields unless appropriate varieties are adopted. Wheat is adapted to a wide range of environments due to the diversity in its phenology genes. Wheat phenology offers the opportunity to fight against drought by modifying crop developmental phases according to water availability in target environments. This review summarizes recent advances in wheat phenology research, including vernalization (Vrn), photoperiod (Ppd), and also dwarfing (Rht) genes. The alleles, haplotypes, and copy number variation identified for Vrn and Ppd genes respond differently in different climatic conditions, and thus could alter not only the development phases but also the yield. Compared with the model plant Arabidopsis, more phenology genes have not yet been identified in wheat; quantifying their effects in target environments would benefit the breeding of wheat for improved drought tolerance. Hence, there is scope to maximize yields in water-limited environments by deploying appropriate phenology gene combinations along with Rht genes and other important physiological traits that are associated with drought resistance.

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Genetic Manipulation of Non-Classic Oilseed Plants for Enhancement of Their Potential as a Biofactory for Triacylglycerol Production
Xiao-Yu Xu, Hong-Kun Yang, Surinder P. Singh, Peter J. Sharp, Qing Liu
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 523-533.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.002
Abstract   PDF (1066KB)

Global demand for vegetable oil is anticipated to double by 2030. The current vegetable oil production platforms, including oil palm and temperate oilseeds, are unlikely to produce such an expansion. Therefore, the exploration of novel vegetable oil sources has become increasingly important in order to make up this future vegetable oil shortfall. Triacylglycerol (TAG), as the dominant form of vegetable oil, has recently attracted immense interest in terms of being produced in plant vegetative tissues via genetic engineering technologies. Multidiscipline-based ‘‘-omics” studies are increasingly enhancing our understanding of plant lipid biochemistry and metabolism. As a result, the identification of biochemical pathways and the annotation of key genes contributing to fatty acid biosynthesis and to lipid assembly and turnover have been effectively updated. In recent years, there has been a rapid development in the genetic enhancement of TAG accumulation in high-biomass plant vegetative tissues and oilseeds through the genetic manipulation of the key genes and regulators involved in TAG biosynthesis. In this review, current genetic engineering strategies ranging from single-gene manipulation to multigene stacking aimed at increasing plant biomass TAG accumulation are summarized. New directions and suggestions for plant oil production that may help to further alleviate the potential shortage of edible oil and biodiesel are discussed.

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Current Research Status of Heterodera glycines Resistance and Its Implication on Soybean Breeding
Guiping Yan, Richard Baidoo
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 534-541.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.009
Abstract   PDF (983KB)

Heterodera glycines (i.e., soybean cyst nematode, SCN) is the most damaging nematode pest affecting soybean crop worldwide. This nematode is managed by means of crop rotation with selected resistant sources. With increasing reports of virulent SCN populations that are able to break the resistance within commonly used sources, there is an increasing need to find new sources of resistance or to broaden the resistance background. This review summarizes recent findings about the genes controlling SCN resistance in soybean, and about how these genes interact to confer resistance against SCN in soybean. It also provides an update on molecular mapping and molecular markers that can be used for the mass selection and differentiation of different resistance lines and cultivars in order to expedite conventional breeding programs. In-depth knowledge of SCN parasitism proteins and soybean resistance responses to the pathogen is critical for the diversification of resistant sources through gene modification, gene stacking, or incorporation of novel sources of resistance through backcrossing or genetic engineering.

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Aphanomyces euteiches: A Threat to Canadian Field Pea Production
Longfei Wu, Kan-Fa Chang, Robert L. Conner, Stephen Strelkov, Rudolph Fredua-Agyeman, Sheau-Fang Hwang, David Feindel
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 542-551.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.006
Abstract   PDF (1885KB)

Field pea (Pisum sativum var. arvense L.) is an important legume crop around the world. It produces grains with high protein content and can improve the amount of available nitrogen in the soil. Aphanomyces root rot (ARR), caused by the soil-borne oomycete Aphanomyces euteiches Drechs. (A. euteiches), is a major threat to pea production in many pea-growing regions including Canada; it can cause severe root damage, wilting, and considerable yield losses under wet soil conditions. Traditional disease management strategies, such as crop rotations and seed treatments, cannot fully prevent ARR under conditions conducive for the disease, due to the longevity of the pathogen oospores, which can infect field pea plants at any growth stage. The development of pea cultivars with partial resistance or tolerance to ARR may be a promising approach to analyze the variability and physiologic specialization of A. euteiches in field pea and to improve the management of this disease. As such, the detection of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for resistance is essential to field pea-breeding programs. In this paper, the pathogenic characteristics of A. euteiches are reviewed along with various ARR management strategies and the QTL associated with partial resistance to ARR.

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Synthetic Hexaploid Wheat: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Aili Li, Dengcai Liu, Wuyun Yang, Masahiro Kishii, Long Mao
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 552-558.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.001
Abstract   PDF (408KB)

In recent years, wheat yield per hectare appears to have reached a plateau, leading to concerns for future food security with an increasing world population. Since its invention, synthetic hexaploid wheat (SHW) has been shown to be an effective genetic resource for transferring agronomically important genes from wild relatives to common wheat. It provides new sources for yield potential, drought tolerance, disease resistance, and nutrient-use efficiency when bred conventionally with modern wheat varieties. SHW is becoming more and more important for modern wheat breeding. Here, we review the current status of SHW generation, study, and application, with a particular focus on its contribution to wheat breeding. We also briefly introduce the most recent progress in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms for growth vigor in SHW. Advances in new technologies have made the complete wheat reference genome available, which offers a promising future for the study and applications of SHW in wheat improvement that are essential to meet global food demand.

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Progress in the Physisorption Characterization of Nanoporous Gas Storage Materials
Katie A. Cychosz, Matthias Thommes
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 559-566.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.06.001
Abstract   PDF (1940KB)

Assessing the adsorption properties of nanoporous materials and determining their structural characterization is critical for progressing the use of such materials for many applications, including gas storage. Gas adsorption can be used for this characterization because it assesses a broad range of pore sizes, from micropore to mesopore. In the past 20 years, key developments have been achieved both in the knowledge of the adsorption and phase behavior of fluids in ordered nanoporous materials and in the creation and advancement of state-of-the-art approaches based on statistical mechanics, such as molecular simulation and density functional theory. Together with high-resolution experimental procedures for the adsorption of subcritical and supercritical fluids, this has led to significant advances in physical adsorption textural characterization. In this short, selective review paper, we discuss a few important and central features of the underlying adsorption mechanisms of fluids in a variety of nanoporous materials with well-defined pore structure. The significance of these features for advancing physical adsorption characterization and gas storage applications is also discussed.

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Ecologically Inspired Water Network Optimization of Steel Manufacture Using Constructed Wetlands as a Wastewater Treatment Process
Kaili Zhang, Stephen M. Malone, Bert Bras, Marc Weissburg, Yuehong Zhao, Hongbin Cao
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 567-573.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.007
Abstract   PDF (1187KB)

Traditional optimization models often lack a systems-level perspective at conception, which limits their effectiveness. Expanding system boundaries allow scientists and engineers to model complex interactions more accurately, leading to higher efficiency and profitability in industrial systems. Ecological systems have evolved for billions of years under conditions of material and energy shortage, and ecologists have defined analysis tools and metrics for identifying important principles. These principles may provide the framework to circumvent the limitations of traditional optimization techniques. More specifically, by recruiting functional roles that are often found in ecological systems, but are absent in industrial systems, industries can better mimic how natural systems organize themselves. The objective of this analysis is to traditionally optimize a manufacturing process by comparing the model with ecological and resource-based performance metrics in order to redesign the model with the addition of important functional roles that are found throughout nature. Industry partners provided data for this analysis, which involved building a water network for an existing steel manufacturing facility in China. The results of the traditional optimization model indicate a 23%, 29%, and 20% decline in freshwater consumption, wastewater discharge, and total annual cost, respectively. However, our ecologically inspired optimization model provides an additional 21% and 25% decline in freshwater consumption and total annual cost, respectively. Furthermore, no water is discharged. These results suggest that this unconventional approach to optimization could provide an effective technique not used by existing algorithms to solve the challenging problem of pursuing more sustainable industrial systems.

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Breakthrough Technologies for the Biorefining of Organic Solid and Liquid Wastes
Paul Chen, Erik Anderson, Min Addy, Renchuan Zhang, Yanling Cheng, Peng Peng, Yiwei Ma, Liangliang Fan, Yaning Zhang, Qian Lu, Shiyu Liu, Nan Zhou, Xiangyuan Deng, Wenguang Zhou, Muhammad Omar, Richard Griffith, Faryal Kabir, Hanwu Lei, Yunpu Wang, Yuhuan Liu, Roger Ruan
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 574-580.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.07.004
Abstract   PDF (1364KB)

Organic solid and liquid wastes contain large amounts of energy, nutrients, and water, and should not be perceived as merely waste. Recycling, composting, and combustion of non-recyclables have been practiced for decades to capture the energy and values from municipal solid wastes. Treatment and disposal have been the primary management strategy for wastewater. As new technologies are emerging, alternative options for the utilization of both solid wastes and wastewater have become available. Considering the complexity of the chemical, physical, and biological properties of these wastes, multiple technologies may be required to maximize the energy and value recovery from the wastes. For this purpose, biorefining tends to be an appropriate approach to completely utilize the energy and value available in wastes. Research has demonstrated that non-recyclable waste materials and bio-solids can be converted into usable heat, electricity, fuel, and chemicals through a variety of processes, and the liquid waste streams have the potential to support crop and algae growth and provide other energy recovery and food production options. In this paper, we propose new biorefining schemes aimed at organic solid and liquid wastes from municipal sources, food and biological processing plants, and animal production facilities. Four new breakthrough technologies—namely, vacuum-assisted thermophilic anaerobic digestion, extended aquaponics, oily wastes to biodiesel via glycerolysis, and microwave-assisted thermochemical conversion—can be incorporated into the biorefining schemes, thereby enabling the complete utilization of those wastes for the production of chemicals, fertilizer, energy (biogas, syngas, biodiesel, and bio-oil), foods, and feeds, and resulting in clean water and a significant reduction in pollutant emissions.

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Surface-Driven High-Pressure Processing
Keith E. Gubbins, Kai Gu, Liangliang Huang, Yun Long, J. Matthew Mansell, Erik E. Santiso, Kaihang Shi, Małgorzata Ś liwińska-Bartkowiak, Deepti Srivastava
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 311-320.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.004
Abstract   PDF (1484KB)

The application of high pressure favors many chemical processes, providing higher yields or improved rates in chemical reactions and improved solvent power in separation processes, and allowing activation barriers to be overcome through the increase in molecular energy and molecular collision rates. High pressures—up to millions of bars using diamond anvil cells—can be achieved in the laboratory, and lead to many new routes for chemical synthesis and the synthesis of new materials with desirable thermodynamic, transport, and electronic properties. On the industrial scale, however, high-pressure processing is currently limited by the cost of compression and by materials limitations, so that few industrial processes are carried out at pressures above 25 MPa. An alternative approach to high-pressure processing is proposed here, in which very high local pressures are generated using the surface-driven interactions from a solid substrate. Recent experiments and molecular simulations show that such interactions can lead to local pressures as high as tens of thousands of bars (1 bar= 1 _ 105 Pa), and even millions of bars in some cases. Since the active high-pressure processing zone is inhomogeneous, the pressure is different in different directions. In many cases, it is the pressure in the direction parallel to the surface of the substrate (the tangential pressure) that is most greatly enhanced. This pressure is exerted on the molecules to be processed, but not on the solid substrate or the containing vessel. Current knowledge of such pressure enhancement is reviewed, and the possibility of an alternative route to high-pressure processing based on surface-driven forces is discussed. Such surface-driven high-pressure processing would have the advantage of achieving much higher pressures than are possible with traditional bulk-phase processing, since it eliminates the need for mechanical compression. Moreover, no increased pressure is exerted on the containing vessel for the process, thus eliminating concerns about materials failure.

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A Perspective on Rheological Studies of Gas Hydrate Slurry Properties
Ahmad A.A. Majid, David T. Wu, Carolyn A. Koh
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 321-329.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.017
Abstract   PDF (1144KB)

Gas hydrates are solid inclusion compounds that are composed of a three-dimensional hydrogen-bonded network of water cages that can trap small gas molecules, such as methane and carbon dioxide. Understanding the rheological properties of gas hydrate crystals in solution can be critical in a number of energy applications, including the transportation of natural gas in subsea and onshore operations, as well as technological applications for gas separation, desalination, or sequestration. A number of experimental and modeling studies have been done on hydrate slurry rheology; however, the link between theory and experiment is not well-defined. This article provides a review on the current state of the art of hydrate slurry viscosity measurements from high- and low-pressure rheometer studies and high-pressure flowloops over a range of different sub-cooling (ΔTsub=TequilTexp) and fluid conditions, including for water and oil continuous systems. The theoretical models that have been developed to describe the gas hydrate slurry relative viscosity are also reviewed. Perspectives’ linkage between the experiments and theory is also discussed.

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Modularized Production of Value-Added Products and Fuels from Distributed Waste Carbon-Rich Feedstocks
Robert S. Weber, Johnathan E. Holladay
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 330-335.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.012
Abstract   PDF (1275KB)

We have adapted and characterized electrolysis reactors to complement the conversion of regional- and community-scale quantities of waste into fuel or chemicals. The overall process must be able to contend with a wide range of feedstocks, must be inherently safe, and should not rely on external facilities for co-reactants or heat rejection and supply. Our current approach is based on the upgrading of bio-oil produced by the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of carbon-containing waste feedstocks. HTL can convert a variety of feedstocks into a bio-oil that requires much less upgrading than the products of other ways of deconstructing biomass. We are now investigating the use of electrochemical processes for the further conversions needed to transform the bio-oil from HTL into fuel or higher value chemicals. We, and others, have shown that electrochemical reduction can offer adequate reaction rates and at least some of the necessary generality. In addition, an electrochemical reactor necessarily both oxidizes (removes electrons) on one side of the reactor and reduces (adds electrons) on the other side. Therefore, the two types of reactions could, in principle, be coupled to upgrade the bio-oil and simultaneously polish the water that is employed as a reactant and a carrier in the upstream HTL. Here, we overview a notional process, the possible conversion chemistry, and the economics of an HTL-electrochemical process.

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Carbon Sequestration through CO2 Foam-Enhanced Oil Recovery: A Green Chemistry Perspective
Jennifer A. Clark, Erik E. Santiso
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 336-342.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.006
Abstract   PDF (1170KB)

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) via carbon dioxide (CO2) flooding has received a considerable amount of attention as an economically feasible method for carbon sequestration, with many recent studies focusing on developing enhanced CO2 foaming additives. However, the potential long-term environmental effects of these additives in the event of leakage are poorly understood and, given the amount of additives injected in a typical CO2 EOR operation, could be far-reaching. This paper presents a summary of recent developments in surfactant and surfactant/nanoparticle-based CO2 foaming systems, with an emphasis on the possible environmental impacts of CO2 foam leakage. Most of the surfactants studied are unlikely to degrade under reservoir conditions, and their release can cause major negative impacts on wildlife. With recent advances in the use of additives (e.g., nonionic surfactants, nanoparticles, and other chemicals) the use of harsh anionic surfactants may no longer be warranted. This paper discusses recent advances in producing foaming systems, and highlights possible strategies to develop environmentally friendly CO2 EOR methods.

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New Insight into the Development of Oxygen Carrier Materials for Chemical Looping Systems
Zhuo Cheng, Lang Qin, Jonathan A. Fan, Liang-Shih Fan
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 343-351.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.002
Abstract   PDF (2604KB)

Chemical looping combustion (CLC) and chemical looping reforming (CLR) are innovative technologies for clean and efficient hydrocarbon conversion into power, fuels, and chemicals through cyclic redox reactions. Metal oxide materials play an essential role in the chemical looping redox processes. During reduction, the oxygen carriers donate the required amount of oxygen ions for hydrocarbon conversion and product synthesis. In the oxidation step, the depleted metal oxide oxygen carriers are replenished with molecular oxygen from the air while heat is released. In recent years, there have been significant advances in oxygen carrier materials for various chemical looping applications. Among these metal oxide materials, iron-based oxygen carriers are attractive due to their high oxygen-carrying capacity, cost benefits, and versatility in applications for chemical looping reactions. Their reactivity can also be enhanced via structural design and modification. This review discusses recent advances in the development of oxygen carrier materials and the mechanisms of hydrocarbon conversion over these materials. These advances will facilitate the development of oxygen carrier materials for more efficient chemical looping technology applications.

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Techno-Economic Challenges of Fuel Cell Commercialization
Junye Wang, Hualin Wang, Yi Fan
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 352-360.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.007
Abstract   PDF (1657KB)

As resource scarcity, extreme climate change, and pollution levels increase, economic growth must rely on more environmentally friendly and efficient production processes. Fuel cells are an ideal alternative to internal combustion (IC) engines and boilers on the path to greener industries because of their high efficiency and environmentally friendly operation. However, as a new energy technology, significant market penetration of fuel cells has not yet been achieved. In this paper, we perform a techno-economic and environmental analysis of fuel cell systems using life cycle and value chain activities. First, we investigate the procedure of fuel cell development and identify what activities should be undertaken according to fuel cell life cycle activities, value chain activities, and end-user acceptance criteria. Next, we present a unified learning of the institutional barriers in fuel cell commercialization. The primary end-user acceptance criteria are function, cost, and reliability; a fuel cell should outperform these criteria compared with its competitors, such as IC engines and batteries, to achieve a competitive advantage. The repair and maintenance costs of fuel cells (due to low reliability) can lead to a substantial cost increase and decrease in availability, which are the major factors for end-user acceptance. The fuel cell industry must face the challenge of how to overcome this reliability barrier. This paper provides a deeper insight into our work over the years on the main barriers to fuel cell commercialization, and discusses the potential pivotal role of fuel cells in a future low-carbon green economy. It also identifies the needs and points out some directions for this future low-carbon economy. Green energy, supplied with fuel cells, is truly the business mode of the future. Striving for a more sustainable development of economic growth by adopting green public investments and implementing policy initiatives encourages environmentally responsible industrial investments.

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A Mini-Review on Metal Recycling from Spent Lithium Ion Batteries
Xiaohong Zheng, Zewen Zhu, Xiao Lin, Yi Zhang, Yi He, Hongbin Cao, Zhi Sun
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 361-370.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.018
Abstract   PDF (504KB)

The rapid growth of lithium ion batteries (LIBs) for portable electronic devices and electric vehicles has resulted in an increased number of spent LIBs. Spent LIBs contain not only dangerous heavy metals but also toxic chemicals that pose a serious threat to ecosystems and human health. Therefore, a great deal of attention has been paid to the development of an efficient process to recycle spent LIBs for both economic aspects and environmental protection. In this paper, we review the state-of-the-art processes for metal recycling from spent LIBs, introduce the structure of a LIB, and summarize all available technologies that are used in different recovery processes. It is notable that metal extraction and pretreatment play important roles in the whole recovery process, based on one or more of the principles of pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, biometallurgy, and so forth. By further comparing different recycling methods, existing challenges are identified and suggestions for improving the recycling effectiveness can be proposed.

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Comparing End-Use Potential for Industrial Food-Waste Sources
Raymond RedCorn, Samira Fatemi, Abigail S. Engelberth
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 371-380.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.010
Abstract   PDF (719KB)

Approximately one quarter of the global edible food supply is wasted. The drivers of food waste can occur at any level between production, harvest, distribution, processing, and the consumer. While the drivers vary globally, the industrialized regions of North America, Europe, and Asia share similar situations; in each of these regions the largest loss of food waste occurs with the consumer, at approximately 51% of total waste generated. As a consequence, handling waste falls on municipal solid waste operations. In the United States, food waste constitutes 15% of the solid waste stream by weight, contributes 3.4 × 107t of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions, and costs 1.9 billion USD in disposal fees. The levels of carbon, nutrients, and moisture in food waste make bioprocessing into higher value products an attractive method for mitigation. Opportunities include extraction of nutraceuticals and bioactive compounds, or conversion to a variety of volatile acids—including lactic, acetic, and propionic acids—that can be recovered and sold at a profit. The conversion of waste into volatile acids can be paired with bioenergy production, including hydrogen or biogas. This present review compares the potential for upgrading industrial food waste to either specialty products or methane. Higher value uses of industrial food waste could alleviate approximately 1.9 × 108 t of CO2equivalent emissions. As an example, potato peel could be upgraded to lactic acid via fermentation to recover 5600 million USD per year, or could be converted to methane via anaerobic digestion, resulting in a revenue of 900 million USD per year. The potential value to be recovered is significant, and food-waste valorization will help to close the loop for various food industries.

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Intelligent Mining Technology for an Underground Metal Mine Based on Unmanned Equipment
Jian-guo Li, Kai Zhan
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 381-391.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.013
Abstract   PDF (3525KB)

This article analyzes the current research status and development trend of intelligent technologies for underground metal mines in China, where such technologies are under development for use to develop mineral resources in a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly manner. We analyze and summarize the research status of underground metal mining technology at home and abroad, including some specific examples of equipment, technology, and applications. We introduce the latest equipment and technologies with independent intellectual property rights for unmanned mining, including intelligent and unmanned control technologies for rock-drilling jumbos, down-the-hole (DTH) drills, underground scrapers, underground mining trucks, and underground charging vehicles. Three basic platforms are used for intelligent and unmanned mining: the positioning and navigation platform, information-acquisition and communication platform, and scheduling and control platform. Unmanned equipment was tested in the Fankou Lead-Zinc Mine in China, and industrial tests on the basic platforms of intelligent and unmanned mining were carried out in the mine. The experiment focused on the intelligent scraper, which can achieve autonomous intelligent driving by relying on a wireless communication system, location and navigation system, and data-acquisition system. These industrial experiments indicate that the technology is feasible. The results show that unmanned mining can promote mining technology in China to an intelligent level and can enhance the core competitive ability of China’s mining industry.

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A Non-Contact Original-State Online Real-Time Monitoring Method for Complex Liquids in Industrial Processes
Ning Duan, Linhua Jiang, Fuyuan Xu, Ge Zhang
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 392-397.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.005
Abstract   PDF (1761KB)

Failures are very common during the online real-time monitoring of large quantities of complex liquids in industrial processes, and can result in excessive resource consumption and pollution. In this study, we introduce a monitoring method capable of non-contact original-state online real-time monitoring for strongly coated, high-salinity, and multi-component liquids. The principle of the method is to establish the relationship among the concentration of the target substance in the liquid (C), the color space coordinates of the target substance at different concentrations (L*, a*, b*), and the maximum absorption wavelength (λmax); subsequently, the optimum wavelength λT of the liquid is determined by a high-precision scanning-type monitoring system that is used to detect the instantaneous concentration of the target substance in the flowing liquid. Unlike traditional monitoring methods and existing online monitoring methods, the proposed method does not require any pretreatment of the samples (i.e., filtration, dilution, oxidation/reduction, addition of chromogenic agent, constant volume, etc.), and it is capable of originalstate online real-time monitoring. This method is employed at a large electrolytic manganese plant to monitor the Fe3+ concentration in the colloidal process of the plant’s aging liquid (where the concentrations of Fe3+, Mn2+, and (NH4)2SO4are 0.5–18 mg·L1, 35–39 g·L1, and 90–110 g·L1, respectively). The relative error of this monitoring method compared with an off-line laboratory monitoring is less than 2%.

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Mechanochemical-Assisted Leaching of Lamp Phosphors: A Green Engineering Approach for Rare-Earth Recovery
Steff Van Loy, Koen Binnemans, Tom Van Gerven
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 398-405.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.015
Abstract   PDF (1703KB)

Rare-earth elements (REEs) are essential metals for the design and development of sustainable energy applications. Recycling these elements from waste streams enriched in them is crucial for securing an independent future supply for sustainable applications. This study compares the mechanisms of mechanical activation prior to a hydrometallurgical acid-leaching process and a solvometallurgical mechanochemical leaching process for the recovery of REEs from green lamp phosphor, LaPO4:Ce3+, Tb3+. After 60 min of processing time, the REE leaching rates showed a significant enhancement of 60% after cycled mechanical activation, and 98% after the combined mechanochemical leaching process. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) imaging disclosed the cause for the improved REE leaching rates: The improved leaching and leaching patterns could be attributed to changes in the crystal morphology from monocrystalline to polycrystalline. Reduction of the crystallite size to the nanoscale in a polycrystalline material creates irregular packing of chemical units, resulting in an increase in defect-rich grain boundaries in the crystals, which enhances the leaching process. A solvometallurgical method was developed to combine the mechanical activation and leaching process into a single step, which is beneficial for operational cost. This results in an efficient and simple process that provides an alternative and greener recycling route for lamp phosphor waste.

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Separation-and-Recovery Technology for Organic Waste Liquid with a High Concentration of Inorganic Particles
Hualin Wang, Pengbo Fu, Jianping Li, Yuan Huang, Ying Zhao, Lai Jiang, Xiangchen Fang, Tao Yang, Zhaohui Huang, Cheng Huang
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 406-415.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.014
Abstract   PDF (3309KB)

The environmentally friendly and resourceful utilization of organic waste liquid is one of the frontiers of environmental engineering. With the increasing demand for chemicals, the problem of organic waste liquid with a high concentration of inorganic pollutants in the processing of petroleum, coal, and natural gas is becoming more serious. In this study, the high-speed self-rotation and flipping of particles in a threedimensional cyclonic turbulent field was examined using a synchronous high-speed camera technique; the self-rotation speed was found to reach 2000–6000 rad·s−1. Based on these findings, a cyclonic gasstripping method for the removal of organic matter from the pores of particles was invented. A technological process was developed to recover organic matter from waste liquid by cyclonic gas stripping and classifying inorganic particles by means of airflow acceleration classification. A demonstration device was built in Sinopec’s first ebullated-bed hydro-treatment unit for residual oil. Compared with the T-STAR fixed-bed gas-stripping technology designed in the United States, the maximum liquid-removal efficiency of the catalyst particles in this new process is 44.9% greater at the same temperature, and the time required to realize 95% liquid-removal efficiency is decreased from 1956.5 to 8.4 s. In addition, we achieved the classification and reuse of the catalyst particles contained in waste liquid according to their activity. A proposal to use this new technology was put forward regarding the control of organic waste liquid and the classification recovery of inorganic particles in an ebullated-bed hydro-treatment process for residual oil with a processing capacity of 2 × 106 t·a−1. It is estimated that the use of this new technology will lead to the recovery of 3100 ta−1 of diesel fuel and 647 t·a−1 of high-activity catalyst; in addition, it will reduce the consumption of fresh catalyst by 518 t·a−1. The direct economic benefits of this process will be as high as 37.28 million CNY per year.

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Industrial Application of a Deep Purification Technology for Flue Gas Involving Phase-Transition Agglomeration and Dehumidification
Jianmin Liu, Fahua Zhu, Xiuyuan Ma
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 416-420.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.009
Abstract   PDF (780KB)

A moist plume forms when the flue gas emitted from wet desulfurization equipment exits into the ambient air, resulting in a waste of water resources and visual pollution. In addition, sulfur trioxide (SO3), water with dissolved salts, and particles in the wet flue gas form secondary pollution in the surrounding atmosphere. In this study, a deep purification technology for flue gas involving phase-transition agglomeration and dehumidification (PAD) is proposed. This deep purification technology includes two technical routes: the integrated technology of phase-transition agglomeration and a wet electrostatic precipitator (PAW); and the integrated technology of phase-transition agglomeration and a mist eliminator (PAM). Industrial applications of PAW and PAM were carried out on 630 and 1000 MW coal-fired units, respectively. The results show that the average amount of recycled water obtained from wet flue gas by means of PAD is more than 4 g·(kg·°C)–1. Decreasing the wet flue gas temperature by 1.5–5.3 °C allows 5%–20% of the moisture in the flue gas to be recycled; therefore, this process could effectively save water resources and significantly reduce water vapor emissions. In addition, the moist plume is effectively eliminated. With the use of this process, the ion concentration in droplets of flue gas is decreased by more than 65%, the SO3removal efficiency from flue gas is greater than 75%, and the removal efficiency of particulate matter is 92.53%.

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Turning Industrial Residues into Resources: An Environmental Impact Assessment of Goethite Valorization
Andrea Di Maria, Karel Van Acker
Engineering    2018, 4 (3): 421-429.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.008
Abstract   PDF (1208KB)

Goethite is a metals-rich residue that occurs during zinc production. The feasibility of metal recovery from goethite has been demonstrated, but is not economically viable on an industrial scale. Therefore, goethite is landfilled with considerable economic costs and environmental risks. The goal of this study is to evaluate the environmental performance of a new valorization strategy for goethite residues from zinc production, with the aims of: ① recovering the valuable zinc contained in the goethite and ② avoiding the landfilling of goethite by producing a clean byproduct. The presented goethite valorization strategy consists of a sequence of two processes: ① plasma fuming and ② inorganic polymerization of the fumed slag. Plasma fuming recovers the valuable metals by fuming the goethite. The metals-free fumed slag undergoes a process of inorganic polymerization to form inorganic polymers, that can be used as a novel building material, as an alternative to ordinary Portland cement (OPC)-based concrete. Lifecycle assessment (LCA) is used to compare the environmental performance of the inorganic polymer with the environmental performances of equivalent OPC-based concrete. The LCA results show the tradeoff between the environmental burdens of the fuming process and inorganic polymerization versus the environmental benefits of metal recovery, OPC concrete substitution, and the avoidance of goethite landfilling. The goethite-based inorganic polymers production shows better performances in several environmental impact categories, thanks to the avoided landfilling of goethite. However, in other environmental impact categories, such as global warming, the goethite valorization is strongly affected by the high-energy requirements of the plasma-fuming process, which represent the environmental hotspots of the proposed goethite recycling scheme. The key elements toward the sustainability of goethite valorization have been identified, and include the use of a clean electric mix, more effective control of the fumed gas emissions, and a reduced use of fumed slag through increased efficiency of the inorganic polymerization process.

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A Geodesign Method of Human-Energy-Water Interactive Systems for Urban Infrastructure Design: 10KM2 Near-Zero District Project in Shanghai
Perry Pei-Ju Yang, Cheryl Shu-Fang Chi, Yihan Wu, Steven Jige Quan
Engineering    2018, 4 (2): 182-189.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2018.03.014
Abstract   PDF (1507KB)

The grand challenges of climate change demand a new paradigm of urban design that takes the performance of urban systems into account, such as energy and water efficiency. Traditional urban design methods focus on the form-making process and lack performance dimensions. Geodesign is an emerging approach that emphasizes the links between systems thinking, digital technology, and geographic context. This paper presents the research results of the first phase of a larger research collaboration and proposes an extended geodesign method for a district-scale urban design to integrate systems of renewable energy production, energy consumption, and storm water management, as well as a measurement of human experiences in cities. The method incorporates geographic information system (GIS), parametric modeling techniques, and multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) tools that enable collaborative design decision-making. The method is tested and refined in a test case with the objective of designing a near-zero-energy urban district. Our final method has three characteristics.①Integrated geodesign and parametric design: It uses a parametric design approach to generate focal-scale district prototypes by means of a custom procedural algorithm, and applies geodesign to evaluate the performances of design proposals. ② A focus on design flow: It elaborates how to define problems, what information is selected, and what criteria are used in making design decisions.③Multi-objective optimization: The test case produces indicators from performance modeling and derives principles through a multi-objective computational experiment to inform how the design can be improved. This paper concludes with issues and next steps in modeling urban design and infrastructure systems based on MDO tools.

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