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, No 4
  • Editorial
    Editorial - Special issue on Balancing Technology, Environment and Lifestyles
    2014, 10(4): 329-331.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p329.mag
    Related Articles

    During 20th Century, it was believed that any nation which could produce cheap and dependable products, systems, and services would eventually be the industrial leader of the world. This led to a technological and industrial race which involved indiscriminate use of the resources and overlooking the wastages involved. This industrial revolution resulted in severe environmental degradation of the planet we live in. With the passage of time, it is now realized that as the world resources become scarce and the human population rises, the cost of raw materials and resources is likely to escalate spirally. Naturally, to meet the demand of the rising population, the volume of production has to be increased, which will further aggravate the world environmental health unless strong pollution prevention measures are vigorously pursued and implemented.

    In 1987, the United Nations released what is known as Brundtland Report [1], which emphasized the necessity of sustainable development and defined it as "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

    The rate at which the environmental degradation is taking place due to over-exploitation of resources on one hand and their wastage on the other hand could lead humans to surpass the carrying capacity of Earth. Realizing the gravity of the situation, more than 1600 scientists, including 102 Noble laureates collectively signed a Warning to Humanity in 1992, which reads as follows:

    "No more than one or few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we confront, will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished... A new ethics is required- a new attitude towards discharging responsibility for caring for ourselves and for Earth ... this ethics must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders, reluctant governments and reluctant people themselves to affect the needed changes".

    It had been abundantly emphasized [2] that the future prosperity of nations in 21st Century will depend upon their degree of concern for performance, environment and economic implications for industrial and technological advancement or what has been known as sustainable development.

    Sustainability, in nutshell, can be defined as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Sustainability will give our children and future generations better chances to survive and lead a better life. The world population at present is 6.5 billion and is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050. This increase would necessitate more materials and energy requirements. Materials which were once cheap would eventually become difficult to harness and costly in near future. Cost and availability are likely to further worsen with rapid growth in developing countries while they consume natural resources faster than these can be replenished or until their substitutes are found. Energy requirement is also likely to increase with increase in the number of consumers and also for manufacturing products. Since water is a life sustaining requirement, there is a threat to its availability as well as cost besides ensuring its purity and being clean. The fact that the resources are finite and should not be wasted, it becomes necessary to use them wisely and judiciously.

    Therefore, to affect sustainability, the basic requirements are: dematerialization (or use of minimum material in all our requirements) and use of minimum energy besides minimizing any wastages (goal should be of zero waste) during the entire life cycle activities of products systems and services. In fact, zero waste is defined as ... "designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eventually eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that may become a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health."

    In Europe, Restriction on Hazardous Substances (ROHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives are assisting the electronics and computer industries; and the newly enacted Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) directive will have an even more profound impact on sustainability initiatives. While, ROHS restricts the use of hazardous materials (such heavy metals such as lead, cadmium etc.) in the manufacture of electronic and electrical equipment, WEEE requires makers of electrical goods to collect, recycle and recover essential targets for their products at end of life. Concerned manufacturers need to develop a mechanism for reclaiming product from the consumer. Finally, REACH requires testing and registration of most chemicals manufactured in or imported into the EU. Producers and importers may be required to test and report the effects of particularly risky chemicals, and the most hazardous (carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or those that accumulate in humans or animals) can only be used if expressly authorized by the European Chemicals Agency. These wide ranging measures and directives will eventually affect all manufacturers and are expected to improve sustainability by substantial measure.

    Realizing the importance foregoing factors, it was considered prudent to redefine performance criteria of products, systems and services through a parameter, which not only includes criteria like , quality, reliability, maintainability, safety (and/or security) but also sustainability. What is called as performability [3] is not restricted to mean dependability of a product, system or service alone but also its sustainability. The idea is that overall performance of products, systems and services must not only be judged by how good they perform their designed objective but also by how they are produced, maintained and used over their entire life cycle and finally disposed of (at the end of their intended service period). This naturally involves consideration of influence of the entire processes of production and the conditions of use of products, systems and services may have on the environment. We can also define Performability Engineering as a holistic interdisciplinary approach to optimally engineer dependable and sustainable products, systems and services.

    With sustainability becoming a necessity in 21st Century, we can't but accord it a place of importance, particularly in the design of engineering products, systems and services to conserve material energy and to arrest environment pollution. Therefore, it is significant to mention here that our effort to extend the concept of performability [3]to include sustainability as an additional design parameter besides dependability (quality, reliability, maintainability and safety) was a step in the right direction. In order to promote dissemination of this concept and research in this area an international journal was launched in 2005. The objective of launching the International Journal of Performability Engineering (or IJPE) was to bring to fore all the aspects of performance of any product, system and service in their totality. Another reason to launch this journal was to bring all the players of dependability and sustainability together on a common platform so that an interaction takes place between these diverse sections of researchers which otherwise were working in isolation and sometimes unaware of each others' work.

    IJPE will keep on striving to present new ideas in this endeavor to achieve goal of producing sustainable products, systems, and services. To further highlight the scope of our efforts, a Handbook of Performability Engineering [4] was published with Springer in 2008. This Handbook covers all the aspects of performance attributes including sustainability in great details. We have also brought out special issues occasionally to encourage this interaction.

    The benefits accruing from practicing the principles of sustainability are far-reaching and help increase the profitability and provide an edge in competition over other producers. It is soon going to become a part of business etiquette in the global economy. Use of fewer materials will definitely cut costs. Although switching to more sustainable materials may or may not reduce costs on the face of it, but is likely to reduce waste, emissions and pollution, and may avoid shortages or price increases for the less-sustainable material. Use of less energy in the production process lowers overheads and product costs, which can provide more money for an enterprise to invest in R&D, upgrading plant or equipment or capital improvements, all of which can contribute to the long-term success for the company. Use of renewable sources of energy is going to be in use eventually to offer the advantage of clean energy. For example solar energy is available for free and is sustainable for millions of years. Burning fossil fuel for energy requirement is not really sustainable as it took millions of years to produce oil, coal, and gas but humans are going to burn or exhaust fossil fuels reserve within a few generations. There are other sources of renewable energy as well. Wise use of natural resources and taking steps to lower their environmental impact will help in attracting and retaining customers who are willing to pay more for safe, healthy, and green products. In fact, sustainability challenges are also spurring the need for new technological solutions. Manufacturers who can add or extend an existing product line to meet the challenges have huge market opportunity. Also resorting to fast, cost-effective remanufacturing by using only standard, interchangeable parts may help boost the business opportunities. Smart business leaders will build sustainability into their business models. In addition to the environmental benefits, sustainability offers great financial, competitive and other business rewards that give manufacturers a competitive edge in a global market.

    Sustainability today is a very complex term that can be applied to many diverse facets of life on Earth, and is used as an umbrella term to measure and calculate the outcome all of human activities, including biological entities such as: wetlands, prairies and forests and is also expressed in Human organization concepts, such as: eco-villages, eco-municipalities, sustainable cities and towns, sustainable communities, and human activities and disciplines, such as: sustainable agriculture, sustainable architecture and buildings using renewable energy. Sustainability is also defined as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, and to preserve biodiversity and productivity into the future. Earth needs biodiversity and humans need biodiversity to survive on Earth. Food security is needed to assure affordable price to weaker section of human population. For example, prices of corn and other cereals have risen which affects the people whose food is based on these cereals and some possibly cannot afford to buy. In essence, the idea is to use Earth's resources at a rate at which they can be replenished if humanity is to live sustainably. If we cannot bring back the pristine environment of Earth, we should at least attempt to arrest its further degradation using all the means available at our command.

    Surely, sustainability can be achieved: by reducing consumption of resources -such as water and energy, through better building practices to reduce energy waste, using more fuel efficient engines in cars and trucks reduce air pollution, increasing recycling - using recycled materials, preserving forest cover of Earth, conserving top soil of land area etc., preserving water sources and marine life and lastly living a sustainable life style.

    It may be difficult to change lifestyle but at least the measures which improve sustainability must be given a good chance. For example, use of bicycle over the use of cars for short distances or use of pooled cars for going to office if possible or make use of public transport. Food habits also need to reorient. It should be good idea to be green consumer while shopping. We should try to become carbon-neutral. There are very many things that can be done to promote sustainability and sustainable life style. This is of course not the place to discuss them all but it would be necessary to mention these at least.

    Therefore, when I received a proposal from the Guest Editors to bring out a special issue of International Journal of Performability Engineering, I readily accepted the idea and the Guest Editors worked over time to realize this project. This special issue on Balancing Technology, Environment and Lifestyles is an effort in this direction. In fact, the highlights of this year's IJPE issues will be two special issues planned on sustainability, viz., the present issue on Balancing Technology, Environment and Lifestyles, and the other on Design of Products, Systems and Services for Dependability and Sustainability.

    There was one more reason to support this idea of bringing out this special issue, which is the issue comprises the papers mainly written by budding researchers and students from Europe, mostly those who are doing Ph.D. under the guidance of their professors and are keen to propagate the concept of sustainability. This is an important and positive step in promoting sustainability as this way it would become a subject of curricula and research in universities and educational institutions.

    I am informed that these papers which are extended versions of the papers that were presented at a symposium which was organized, managed and conducted entirely by these budding researchers without any financial support from any organization or institution. I feel they must be given due credit for undertaking such an onerous task. This symposium was a part of a series of annual events which aim to bring together young researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplinary backgrounds interested in the major challenges posed by achieving Sustainable Development. The first such symposium was held at the Trinity College (TCD) in Dublin in February 2011.The second was held in Austria by the Institute for Process and Particle Engineering at the Graz University of Technology, in February 2012. The third edition took place from 13th to 15th February, 2013 at Parthenope University of Naples, Italy and the fourth symposium took place from 19th to 21th February, 2014 at Pan-European University of Bratislava. These Symposia provide postgraduate researchers from European universities, especially Ph.D. Students, an opportunity to present their work on various aspects of sustainability.

    The moving force behind the present issue is Ms. Maddalena Ripa who is a Ph. D. Student in the Department of Sciences for the Environment at Parthenope University of Napoli of Italy and the task was handled under the apt guidance of two well-known Professors in the area, namely, Professor Sergio Ulgiati of Department of Sciences for the Environment at the Parthenope University of Napoli, Italy, and Professor Hans Schnitzer of Process Engineering at the Technische Universit?t Graz, Austria. This trio deserves all the credit for successful publication of this issue. All papers included in this issue were reviewed at least by two referees and comments received were incorporated during the revision of the papers by the authors. I would be failing in my duty as an Editor-in-Chief of this journal, if I do not acknowledge the uninhibited support of reviewers and referees including the two professors mentioned above who helped maintain high standards of publication of this journal.

    I would like to assure IJPE readers that they will find this special issue quite refereshing and educative. We will continue to present various aspects of performability engineering and new research to our readers through this journal in the years to come.

    [1] United Nations. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. General Assembly Resolution 42/187, 11 December 1987.

    [2] Misra, K. B (Ed.). Clean Production : Environnemental and Economic Persperctives. Springer Verlag, Berlin, 1996.

    [3] Misra, Krishna B. Editorial. International Journal of Performability Engineering, 2005 1(1):1-3.

    [4] Misra, Krishna B (Ed.). Handbook of Performability Engineering. Springer Verlag. London, 2008.

    Guest Editorial
    2014, 10(4): 333-336.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p333.mag
    Related Articles

    This special issue of IJPE with theme on Balancing Technology, Environment and Life Styles is a collection of selected and peer-reviewed papers that were presented in the third edition of the Sustainable Development Symposium – SDS2013, held in Naples (Italy), on 13-15 February 2013. The theme of the Symposium was Sustainable Development in its broader perspective and the papers presented here focus on different aspects of Sustainable Development, viz., methodological, biological, technological and environmental.

    Sustainability and sustainable development are among the most used and appealing terms, but also have been misunderstood and sometimes misused during the last several decades. A Google search on terms like sustainable development and sustainability would yield over 152 and 42.6 million results, which is indicative of immense interest in these areas world over particularly in the academic and in the business and policy sectors. Some believe sustainability be a steady climax state, achieved once for ever; some point out dynamics of oscillating sustainability, with phases of growth and descent; others deny sustainability can be achieved, except for a short period and under given circumstances; finally, others claim and foresee sustainable processes, although within unsustainable societies and lifestyles.

    The objective of SDS2013 was not to elaborate various aspects of such a controversial and hot topic, but "to raise awareness, more specifically on linking technological innovations, environmental stewardship and sustainable lifestyles." Likewise, the objective of this special issue carved out of the updated and reviewed papers presented at the SDS2013 is to present some aspects of technological development that may help improve the standard of living and the quality of life of modern society. To achieve the goal of sustainable development, technologies must essentially be environmental friendly, socially acceptable and economically viable (create jobs, distribute benefits, help eradicate poverty). Such a goal can be achieved by promoting investments in innovative and clean technologies and services as well as be consistent with the changes in lifestyles. Over the pathway towards a more sustainable state, the relationship between actions promoting sustainability and technological innovation is not unambiguous and calls for accurate assessment of benefits and costs.

    Most of the papers contributed to this Special Issue are therefore interdisciplinary, systems oriented and technologically innovative. Methods of life cycle assessment, energy and material flow accounting, remote sensing and geographical information systems, are used in these papers to assess progresses towards more sustainable technologies, eco-efficient and circular processes, decreased pollution, and more appropriate use of resources through recycling and reuse. By pointing out the existing links between production and consumption, resource use and recovery, policies and industrial development, these papers confirm the perception that sustainability calls for the ability to identify and manage the complex dynamics of modern societies, with globalized resources and burdens.

    In the first paper, Is Eco-Efficiency Enough for Sustainability?, Marco Menoni and Hermes Morgavi address environmental sustainability issues in the private industrial sector, focusing on concepts of eco-efficiency and eco-effectiveness, by means of a factor analysis approach. Physical limits to eco-efficiency, within a linear cradle-to-grave approach, are highlighted, and a circular cradle-to-cradle approach is suggested. Three different industrial strategies are assessed: two of them still rely on eco-inefficient production technologies while the third approach privileges investments in R&D and more efficient production technologies in order to generate less waste and less GHG emissions.

    In the second paper of the issue, viz., Recycling Waste Cooking Oil into Biodiesel: A Life Cycle Assessment, Ripa et al. address the problem of recovery and recycling of used cooking oil from restaurants and households. The Authors provide insights into Integrated Waste Management (IWM), based on a case study in Campania Region (Italy). While assessing the environmental effectiveness of WCO to biodiesel conversion, the authors also identify hotspots throughout the entire production chain and suggest some potential improvements.

    In the third paper, by Wiesen et al., viz., Calculating the Material Input per Service Unit using the Eco-invent Database, the authors attempt to compare life cycle Assessment (LCA) and material flow accounting, under both theoretical and applied perspectives. The authors argue that the use of LCA databases (providing inventory data as well as resource and emission profiles of processes for impact assessment methods like ReCipe or IMPACT 2002+) for input oriented environmental assessment is very limited as they only cover a fraction of all relevant input flows. There are several challenges to be faced and the paper makes first propositions for the integration of MIPS (Material Input per Service Unit) into the LCA database Ecoinvent.

    In the fourth paper, Microbial Fuel Cells in Waste Treatment: Recent Advances, R. Nastro reviews the state-of-the-art of an innovative technology for bioconversion of waste into electricity, pointing out the growing interest about Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) technology, worldwide. According to the author, MFCs could present a cost-effective low-energy waste treatment procedure and potentially reduce waste treatment costs while providing an advantage of less environmental impacts, although the existing technological limits do not permit its large-scale application.

    The fifth paper by E. Conway provides a critical overview of governmental support policies to business in Assessing Sustainability Support to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). As the sustainability agenda develops, the need for more sustainable economic growth of SMEs becomes quite challenging for policymakers. The paper qualitatively evaluates the impact of sustainability support policies to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), highlighting that most often SMEs are unable to quantitatively evaluate the benefits received from support programmes because benefits occur in the project planning stage or companies have limited access to financial data.

    The evidence of an accelerated rate of energy and material consumption both in extensive terms (increasing population) and intensive terms (higher consumption per capita) is addressed by Z. Kovacic in the sixth paper, viz., Assessing Sustainability: The Societal Metabolism of Water in Israel". The paper uses the MuSIASEM approach (Multi-Scale Integrated Assessment of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism) to assess, on one hand, the feasibility of the current water consumption rate with relation to ecosystem constraints and, on the other hand, to relate water consumption to human production and consumption activities (societal water metabolism).

    The need for sustainable environmental planning to face global environmental change is the topic addressed by Deafalla et al., in the seventh paper, Analysis of Environmental Change Dynamics in Arid and Semi-Arid Climatic Zones. Remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) are used as tools for the understanding of landscape dynamics and human-environment interaction in the broader context of sustainable and scientific management of resources. Based on a case-study in Sudan, the authors prove the great potential of coupling post change detection (PCD) techniques and multi-temporal optical remotely sensed data.

    The minimization of impacts of petroleum hydrocarbons (among the most common sources of persistent organic contaminants affecting environment and human health) is dealt with by Nastro et al., in the eighth paper, viz., Bioremediation Process Efficiency for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons through Ecotoxicological Tests. By means of an ecotoxicological approach, the authors assess the efficiency of an in-batch bioremediation process in reducing environmental toxicity of a soil sample polluted by Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

    The ninth paper, viz., Re-use of Agro-industrial Waste: Recovery of Valuable Compounds by Eco-friendly Techniques, by Taurisano et al., reviews the applications (from literature and own case studies) of the biorefinery concept on organic waste from industrial processing of tomato and lemon, among the most abundant vegetable substrates from Italian agro-industry. According to the biorefinery concept, waste, by-products and effluents from agro-industrial production can be used as raw materials for the production of high value-added platform chemicals, by means of innovative chemical techniques.

    The benefits of avoided environmental impacts all over the agro-industrial production chain when shifting from conventional chemical fertilizers to "green" fertilizers are pointed out by Zucaro et al., in the last paper, Life Cycle Assessment of Maize Cropping under Different Fertilization Alternatives: by applying Life Cycle Assessment to selected case studies of corn production. The importance of yield as well as of an optimization of the fertilizers supply chain are stressed by the Authors, with the aim of preserving soil organic matter and reducing mineral N fertilizers application and their environmental effects.

    Each paper included in this special issue has been refereed at least by two reviewers and revised based on comments received from the referees besides the Guest Editors. Each paper of this special issue aims to suggest a step forward towards more sustainable technologies and systems, with topics complementing each other, requiring systems views, innovation and environmentally concerned policies. The present environmental, economic, social and governance problems are really huge and urgent. The planet and its subsystems are complex and require creativity and availability to test new ways. The present generation of researchers faces the challenge to cope with these problems and to design solutions. Such a task cannot be carried out by individuals in isolation, but instead requires connectivity, broad minds, independence and shared motivations.

    Maddalena Ripa
    Parthenope University of Napoli,
    Department of Sciences and Technologies
    Centro Direzionale, Isola C4
    80143 Napoli, Italy.
    Sergio Ulgiati
    Parthenope University of Napoli,
    Department of Sciences and Technologies,
    Centro Direzionale, Isola C4
    80143 Napoli, Italy.
    Hans Schnitzer
    Graz University of Technology
    Institute for Process and Particle Engineering
    Inffeldgasse 13
    8010 Graz, Austria.

    Maddalena-RipaMaddalena Ripa received her Bachelor's Degree in Biology in 2006 from University "Federico II" of Naples, Italy. Later in 2008, she earned her Master's Degree in Biological Sciences (with honors) from University "Federico II" of Naples, Italy. She was awarded her Ph.D. in Environment, Resources and Sustainable Development at the Department of Sciences and Technologies of Parthenope University of Naples, Italy (2014). She gained expertise in Life Cycle assessment (LCA), Urban Waste Management, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Biomass conversions, Emergy Accounting. Her present research activity deals with (i) integrated approaches for environmental sustainability assessment and (ii) their application to bioconversions processes and waste management. She is author of several peer-reviewed papers in international and national journals and conference proceedings.

    Sergio-UlgiatiSergio Ulgiati is Professor of Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental Certification. Education in Physics and Environmental Chemistry. Expertise in Energy Analysis, LCA, Environmental and Emergy Accounting, Sustainability Indicators. His LCA and environmental assessment activities cover a large number of technological applications: agro-industrial and urban waste management; biorefineries for energy and platform chemicals; renewable and nonrenewable energy systems (in particular, biofuels; solar thermal and photovoltaic modules; hydrogen and fuel cells; thermal fossil-powered power plants); sustainable transport; food production; urban systems. Visiting professor in USA, Brazil, China. Member of the Editorial Boards of "Energy", "Ecological Modelling", and "Environment, Ecosystems and Sustainability". Chief Editor of the Journal Environmental Accounting and Management. Founder and Chair of the series of Biennial International Workshops "Advances in Energy Studies". Member of evaluation panels of the European Union for the selection of projects in the fields of energy and environment, within the 5th, 6th and 7th R&D Framework Programmes.

    Hans-SchnitzerHans Schnitzer is Professor for Process Engineering at Graz University of Technology. He is engaged in the transfer of sustainability approaches from research to business and politics since more than 15 years. In his work, he is targeting at Zero Emission processes and the use of renewable resources in production. In the field of energy he performs research on 100% renewable energy systems in companies, but also in national and regional systems. Within international projects he is engaged in Middle East and Mediterranean Countries, Uganda and Vietnam. Education in Chemical Engineering at the University of Technology in Graz/Austria. Professor for Fundamentals of Process Engineering and Energy Technologies. He expertises in Cleaner Production, Energy Efficiency and the utilization of renewable sources for materials and energy. Member of the Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC), expert for UNIDO in Low Carbon projects. Scientific leader of the demonstration project "Smart City Graz". Member of the Editorial Boards of "Journal Environmental Accounting and Management" and "Journal of Cleaner Production".

    Original articles
    Is Eco-Efficiency Enough for Sustainability?
    2014, 10(4): 337-346.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p337.mag
    Abstract    PDF (167KB)   
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    Environmental sustainability is a crucial issue for future surviving and quality of life. Decoupling economic growth from environmental sustainability would be useful and desirable; and even better would be to join the pathways of these two values. A linear eco-efficient cradle to grave approach should be changed with a circular cradle to cradle logic. Using the instrument of factor analysis, this paper studies the approach of private firms toward eco-efficiency and sustainability. The results of our analysis show that private firms tend to adopt three different approaches. Two of them are based on eco-inefficient production technologies while the third approach privileges investments in R&D and more efficient production technologies that produce less waste and less GHG emissions.

    Received on Sept.02, 2013, revised on Nov. 07 and Dec. 02, 2013, finally on Feb. 05, 2014
    References: 31
    Recycling Waste Cooking Oil into Biodiesel: A Life Cycle Assessment
    2014, 10(4): 347-356.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p347.mag
    Abstract    PDF (122KB)   
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    Production activities are always accompanied by energy consumption and waste generation; the basic environmental issue in industrial and developing countries worldwide still is how to best identify and manage waste streams while at same time recovering their energy content. In this paper, starting from the evidence that the conventional disposal of waste cooking oil (WCO) causes severe environmental problems, a new way to recover and reuse this oil is explored. Collection of cooking oils and fats from residential and commercial facilities and treatment to biofuel is investigated as a case study in the Campania Region (Italy). There have been recent developments in recycling techniques for conversion of WCO into biodiesel: in such a way, environmental damage can be minimized by also meeting the need for alternative fuels. The aim of this study is dual. Firstly, it assesses the environmental effectiveness of biodiesel production from WCO, secondly, it identifies hotspots throughout the entire biodiesel production chain and suggests future improvements.

    Received on Sept.05, 2013, revised on Oct.10 and Oct.18, 2013, and finally on Jan.23, 2014
    References: 40
    Calculating the Material Input per Service Unit using the Ecoinvent Database
    2014, 10(4): 357-366.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p357.mag
    Abstract    PDF (200KB)   
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    The availability of life cycle inventories is one of the biggest challenges for life cycle wide environmental assessment. There are several life cycle assessment (LCA) databases providing inventory data as well as resource and emission profiles of processes for impact assessment methods like ReCiPe or IMPACT 2002+. But the use of these LCA databases for input oriented environmental assessment is very limited as they cover only a part of all relevant input flows. The paper describes current challenges when calculating the input oriented Material Input per Service Unit (MIPS) indicators based on LCA inventory data from the Ecoinvent database. Propositions are made how to address these challenges. As a conclusion, further need of research to reach a full compatibility of LCA databases and the MIPS concept is pointed out.

    Received on Sept.07, 2013, revised on Oct. 21, and Oct. 25, 2013 and finally on Feb. 25, 2014
    References: 26
    Microbial Fuel Cells in Waste Treatment: Recent Advances
    R. A. NASTRO
    2014, 10(4): 367-376.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p367.mag
    Abstract    PDF (246KB)   
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    The increasing awareness that there are limits to the availability of nonrenewable resources, as well as that there are limits to the biosphere’s ability to absorb wastes, are at the basis of the growing interest about Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) technology, with particular regards to their application to wastes treatment. MFCs, in fact, couple the direct electric power production to the degradation of organic compounds, liquid and solid wastes included. From municipal wastewater, to landfill leachate and solid waste, the application of MFCs to waste treatment achieved important results both in COD removal and power output. Unlike traditional Fuel Cells (FC), MFCs don't require chemical catalysts neither high working temperatures. Moreover, there is no net production of CO2. In the course of 20 years, the performances of MFC increased significantly and scaled prototypes were realized. The constant progresses achieved make a wide-scale application of MFC to waste treatment more reliable.

    Received on Sept. 18, 2013, revised on Oct. 22 and Oct 25, 2013 and finally on Feb. 26, 2014
    References: 40
    Assessing Sustainability Support to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)
    2014, 10(4): 377-386.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p377.mag
    Abstract    PDF (146KB)   
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    The aim of this paper is to evaluate qualitatively the impact of sustainability support to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) where quantitative results are often difficult to appraise. Many of these organisations require sustainable business support to enable them to start or build their business concepts on sound sustainable platforms. Many SMEs are unable to quantitatively evaluate the benefit which they have received from support programmes because they are in the project planning stage or have limited financial data. Without a form of evaluation, support networks often cannot retain funding support.
    This paper is based on the grounded theory approach to analyse qualitative data received from participants in a sustainability support programme. Research on such programmes to SMEs is scant. This paper proposes the use of qualitative data collection and its evaluation to be considered when making the case for funding such programmes, along with quantitative data when available.

    Received on Sept.03, 2013, revised on Oct. 13 and Nov.07, 2013, and finally on Jan. 23, 2014
    References: 40
    Assessing Sustainability: The Societal Metabolism of Water in Israel
    2014, 10(4): 387-399.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p387.mag
    Abstract    PDF (389KB)   
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    Water management in Israel faces significant challenges in terms of physical scarcity and ecosystem stability, due to the increasing water demand for irrigation and drinking and the prominent role of water in environmental conflicts. Defining sustainability in this context requires an analytical framework that can handle non-equivalent descriptive domains, namely the social, economic and environmental dimensions, and multiple spatial and temporal scales of analysis. This paper provides an integrated assessment of bio-physical and socio-economic factors in order to generate a more holistic vision of societal metabolism and water use in Israel. Results show how the current metabolic pattern is sustained thanks to the generation of an economic surplus, which makes it possible to cope with water and land scarcity through imports. A set of indicators is used to show how the assessment of the feasibility, viability and desirability changes depending on the scale of analysis and on the values and beliefs considered.

    Received on Aug.29, 2013, revised on Sept.23 and Nov. 29, 2013, and finally on Jan.27, 2014
    References: 38
    Analysis of Environmental Change Dynamics in Arid and Semi-Arid Climatic Zones
    2014, 10(4): 401-410.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p401.mag
    Abstract    PDF (351KB)   
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    Global environmental change is a one of humanity’s greatest challenges affecting both current and future generations. Many world regions face this threat but are increasing rapidly especially in arid and semiarid climatic zones. As a case study, North Kordofan State of Sudan now has existing risks and vulnerabilities associated with many reasons; some areas affected by environmental and climatic impacts, in addition to ethnic conflicts between nomads and sedentary farmers, as well as with socio-ethnic and socio-political conflicts destabilizing the critical areas on the western and southern parts of the state. The study aimed to address the change during the past decade by overlaying maps of Land Use/ Land Cover (LU/LC) classes in the State acquired at different points in time, as well as to assess the vulnerability associated with the environmental change. Data were collected in two forms; socioeconomic data and multi-temporal satellite data (i.e. LANDSAT TM and ETM) to study the LU/LC changes. The result of the case studies reveals that, an intensive and dynamic rate of deforestation clearly related to admixture dynamic interactions between social and ecological systems. In sum, we urgently need rethinking about the serious threat of environmental change in these areas. Moreover, new strategies and research development are needed to cope with high levels of the change.

    Efficiency Measures of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Bioremediation Process Through Ecotoxicological Tests
    2014, 10(4): 411-418.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p411.mag
    Abstract    PDF (152KB)   
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    An ecotoxicological approach is used to assess the efficiency of an in-batch bioremediation process in reducing environmental toxicity of a soil polluted with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Microbial strains, able to use PAHs as a sole source of carbon, were added to a soil artificially contaminated with naphthalene, anthracene, phenanthrene, pyrene, and benzo[a]pyrene, with concentrations ranging from 0.4 to 0.1 mg/g. A phytoxicity test (Lepidium sativum) a chronic assay (Ceriodaphnia dubia) and acute assays (Daphnia magna, Artemia salina and Ceriodaphnia dubia) were performed after by incubating soil spiked with selected microbial strains and PHAs for 2 months. PAHs concentration was measured monthly by High Pressure Liquid Cromatography. A decrement of PHAs was observed as result of microbial metabolism. The obtained data showed a positive correlation with the decrement of PAHs for acute and phytotoxicity tests, while an opposite result was observed for chronic assays. The opportunity to implement ecotoxicological assays in the evaluation of remediation process efficiency is discussed.

    Received on Sept.13, 2013, revised on Nov.21 and Nov.28, 2013, and finally on Feb.06, 2014
    References: 21
    Re-use of Agro-industrial Waste: Recovery of Valuable Compounds by Eco-friendly Techniques
    2014, 10(4): 419-425.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p419.mag
    Abstract    PDF (207KB)   
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    The global demographic expansion has determined a voracious demand for edible goods, thus also originating the primary issues about the disposal of waste and by-products with high environmental impact. Waste, by-products and effluents coming from industrial processing and agricultural procedures of vegetables and fruit can be defined as biomass, according to CE directive 2001/77. Those raw materials are currently used as compost, animal feed and biofuel production. In addition, these products can be used as starting substrates for the production of high value-added compounds according to the biorefinery concept. In this review, the biorefinery strategy was applied on waste coming from the industrial processing of lemon and tomato, two of the most abundant vegetables in Italy.

    Received on Aug.05, 2013, revised on Oct.25 and Nov.29, 2013, and finally on Jan.14, 2014
    References: 8
    Life Cycle Assessment of Maize Cropping under Different Fertilization Alternatives
    2014, 10(4): 427-436.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.14.4.p427.mag
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    A Life Cycle Assessment was performed to compare the environmental impacts generated by Mediterranean maize crops (Southern Italy) under conventional management and C-friendly management aimed to preserve soil organic matter and reduce mineral N fertilizers application. Primary data from three fertilizing practices were processed: urea (CONV, conventional), compost (COM) and green manure (GMAN) distribution. Suitable comparisons among treatments were carried out by adopting the same system boundary (one hectare of cropped land) and functional unit (1kgmaize dry matter). Direct field emissions were calculated and the short term soil carbon storage, experimentally derived for COM and GMAN, was also included. Results indicate that the highest impacts are from chemical fertilizers over the background industrial supply chain. GMAN showed the lower environmental burdens, while soil protection strategy expected for COM appeared not sustainable, due to the low crop yield achieved.

    Received on Aug. 02, 2013, revised on Sept.30 and Oct.19, 2013, and finally on Jan.22, 2014
    References: 10
ISSN 0973-1318