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Resources, Volume 10, Issue 7 (July 2021) – 8 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Critical raw materials (CRMs) are crucial for the economic growth and development of many industrial sectors, providing a strategic opportunity for the EU. The EU is highly dependent on their external supply despite the relatively abundant resource base. A key factor influencing the production of CRMs from primary sources is the limited access to the resources related to public opposition, as well as environmental, spatial, technical or economic constraints. Simultaneously, conducting mineral extraction brings numerous economics, social and ethical benefits at the local, national and EU level. These different views have been presented in the paper with a selection of Author case studies from six European countries. View this paper
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Article
Gas Migration in the Aspect of Safety in the Areas of Mines Selected for Closure
Resources 2021, 10(7), 73; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070073 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 587
Abstract
One of the main hazards occurring in post-mining areas is the uncontrolled migration of gases to the surface, which may pose a serious threat to life and health. These gases are mainly methane and carbon dioxide, in smaller amounts ethane and higher hydrocarbons, [...] Read more.
One of the main hazards occurring in post-mining areas is the uncontrolled migration of gases to the surface, which may pose a serious threat to life and health. These gases are mainly methane and carbon dioxide, in smaller amounts ethane and higher hydrocarbons, carbon oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and radon. Methane migrating into the lower levels of buildings, garages, cable ducts, and sewage systems reaching the concentrations of above 5% may cause an explosion hazard. The concentration of carbon dioxide over 4% also represents a serious threat to life. Moreover, carbon dioxide and methane, emitted into the atmosphere, constitute a considerable source of greenhouse gases. The methane could be utilized, yet it is necessary to develop effective capture and purification methods with the first step of determination being its migration routes. The paper presents the application of numerical modelling with the use of TOUGHv2.0 software, which enabled effective simulation of the multiphase flow, applying adsorption and diffusion phenomena. The results of gas migration modelling were compared to the outcomes of geological tests, and the obtained results were satisfying. It was observed that both geological investigation and computer simulations are proper tools for investigation of the phenomenon of gas migration and identification of gas hazard areas on the surface, constituting the basis for development of effective methane capture methods for further application. Full article
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Article
Tracking the Fate of Aluminium in the EU Using the MaTrace Model
Resources 2021, 10(7), 72; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070072 - 12 Jul 2021
Viewed by 572
Abstract
Aluminium is a metal of high economic importance for the European Union (EU), presenting unique properties (e.g., light weight and high corrosion resistance) and with applications in important sectors (e.g., transportation, construction and packaging). It is also known for its high recyclability potential, [...] Read more.
Aluminium is a metal of high economic importance for the European Union (EU), presenting unique properties (e.g., light weight and high corrosion resistance) and with applications in important sectors (e.g., transportation, construction and packaging). It is also known for its high recyclability potential, but relevant losses occur in its life cycle, compromising the amount of aluminium available for secondary production. A novel methodology that allows the identification of these losses and their impact on the aluminium flows in society is the MaTrace model. The objective of this article is to perform a dMFA of the secondary production of aluminium in the EU technosphere using the modified version of MaTrace, in order to estimate flows of the metal embedded in 12 product categories. Twelve scenarios were built in order to assess the impact of changes in policies, demand and technology. The flows were forecasted for a period of 25 years, starting in 2018. The results of the baseline scenario show that after 25 years, 24% of the initial material remains in use, 4% is hoarded by users, 10% has been exported and 61% has been physically lost. The main contributor to the losses is the non-selective collection of end-of-life products. The results of the different scenarios show that by increasing the collection-to-recycling rates of the 12 product categories, the aluminium that stays in use increase up to 32.8%, reaffirming that one way to keep the material in use is to improve the collection-to-recycling schemes in the EU. Full article
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Article
Empirical Models to Characterize the Structural and Physiochemical Properties of Vacuum Gas Oils with Different Saturate Contents
Resources 2021, 10(7), 71; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070071 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 526
Abstract
Inter-criteria analysis was employed in VGO samples having a saturate content between 0.8 and 93.1 wt.% to define the statistically significant relations between physicochemical properties, empirical structural models and vacuum gas oil compositional information. The use of a logistic function and employment of [...] Read more.
Inter-criteria analysis was employed in VGO samples having a saturate content between 0.8 and 93.1 wt.% to define the statistically significant relations between physicochemical properties, empirical structural models and vacuum gas oil compositional information. The use of a logistic function and employment of a non-linear least squares method along with the aromatic ring index allowed for our newly developed correlation to accurately predict the saturate content of VGOs. The empirical models developed in this study can be used not only for obtaining the valuable structural information necessary to predict the behavior of VGOs in the conversion processes but can also be utilized to detect incorrectly performed SARA analyses. This work confirms the possibility of predicting the contents of VGO compounds from physicochemical properties and empirical models. Full article
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Article
Influence of Hydrologic Alteration on Sediment, Dissolved Load and Nutrient Downstream Transfer Continuity in a River: Example Lower Brda River Cascade Dams (Poland)
Resources 2021, 10(7), 70; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070070 - 01 Jul 2021
Viewed by 666
Abstract
Hydrologic alternation of river systems is an essential factor of human activity. Cascade-dammed waters are characterized by the disturbed outflow of material from the catchment. Changes in sediment, dissolved load and nutrient balance are among the base indicators of water resource monitoring. This [...] Read more.
Hydrologic alternation of river systems is an essential factor of human activity. Cascade-dammed waters are characterized by the disturbed outflow of material from the catchment. Changes in sediment, dissolved load and nutrient balance are among the base indicators of water resource monitoring. This research was based on the use of hydrological and water quality data (1984–2017) and the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA) method to determine the influence of river regime changes on downstream transfer continuity of sediments and nutrients in the example of the Lower Brda river cascade dams (Poland). Two types of regimes were used: hydropeaking (1984–2000) and run–of–river (2001–2017). Using the IHA method and water quality data, a qualitative and quantitative relationship were demonstrated between changes of regime operation and sediment and nutrient balance. The use of sites above and below the cascade made it possible to determine sediment, dissolved load, and nutrient trapping and removing processes. Studies have shown that changes in operation regime influenced the supply chain and continuity of sediment and nutrient transport in cascade-dammed rivers. The conducted research showed that sustainable management of sediment and nutrient in the alternated catchment helps achieve good ecological status of the water. Full article
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Article
Quantitative Assessment of Organic and Inorganic Contaminants in Charcoal
Resources 2021, 10(7), 69; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070069 - 01 Jul 2021
Viewed by 693
Abstract
Thirty-one batches of commercial charcoal from various regions of Poland and Germany were tested for the presence of 20 toxic elements and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Elements that are toxic to living organisms were determined using atomic absorption [...] Read more.
Thirty-one batches of commercial charcoal from various regions of Poland and Germany were tested for the presence of 20 toxic elements and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Elements that are toxic to living organisms were determined using atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). They were classified as elements representing a very high degree of hazard (As, Cd, Cu, Hg, and Pb), high degree of hazard (Zn, Ba, Cr, Mn, and Mo), moderate degree of hazard (Co, Ni, Sn, and Te), and a low degree of hazard for living organisms and the environment (Ag, Bi, Ce, Se, Sr, and Zr). In regard to the most toxic elements, the highest concentration in the whole tested material was recorded for Cu. In addition, considerable amounts of Ba, Mn, and Sr, i.e., elements representing a high or moderate degree of hazard, were found in the tested charcoals. Moreover, all charcoals contained a wide range of PAHs, from naphthalene to benzo(ghi)perylene, with concentrations in a range between 12.55 and 3554.11 ng/g charcoal. In total, 25 unsubstituted PAHs were identified in the charcoal extracts. PAHs distributions were dominated by five-ring PAHs. The results indicate high carcinogenicity with ∑PAHcarc/∑PAHtot close to 1, as well as high TEQ and MEQ values. Thus, prolonged exposure to charcoal and charcoal dust might cause serious health problems. This applies to employees actively involved in the production and transport of charcoal and, to a lesser extent, users of this fuel. Full article
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Article
Measurements and Trends in Technological Eco-Innovation: Evidence from Environment-Related Patents
Resources 2021, 10(7), 68; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070068 - 28 Jun 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
The concept of eco-innovation addresses a reduction in negative environmental impacts and the more efficient use of resources. As an integral part of eco-innovation, green technologies are receiving increasing attention due to growing environmental concerns. Patent data are one of the measures of [...] Read more.
The concept of eco-innovation addresses a reduction in negative environmental impacts and the more efficient use of resources. As an integral part of eco-innovation, green technologies are receiving increasing attention due to growing environmental concerns. Patent data are one of the measures of the output of technological eco-innovation. However, understanding the patenting of eco-innovation comes with challenges. The aim of this study is to measure the output of eco-innovation and to analyse the trends in green technologies based on environment-related patents in the world’s leading countries from 2000 to 2017. For this research, a range of data collection techniques based on patent data from leading countries such as China, Korea, Japan, United States and Germany were employed. The study provides a comprehensive overview of changes and trends in the development of environmental technologies using different domains. In particular, significant progress has been made in the areas of environmental technologies and climate change mitigation technologies related to energy generation, transmission or distribution. These technologies are closely linked to international environmental policies such as climate change mitigation and green industry transformation. The study also contributes to the literature on measuring the output of eco-innovation. Full article
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Article
Potential Benefits and Constraints of Development of Critical Raw Materials’ Production in the EU: Analysis of Selected Case Studies
Resources 2021, 10(7), 67; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070067 - 28 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 849
Abstract
Major benefits and constraints related to mineral extraction within the EU have been identified on the examples of selected critical raw materials’ deposits. Analyzed case studies include the following ore deposits: Myszków Mo-W-Cu (Poland), Juomasuo Au-Co (Finland), S. Pedro das Águias W-Sn (Portugal), [...] Read more.
Major benefits and constraints related to mineral extraction within the EU have been identified on the examples of selected critical raw materials’ deposits. Analyzed case studies include the following ore deposits: Myszków Mo-W-Cu (Poland), Juomasuo Au-Co (Finland), S. Pedro das Águias W-Sn (Portugal), Penouta Nb-Ta-Sn (Spain), Norra Kärr REEs (Sweden) and Trælen graphite (Norway). They represent different stages of development, from the early/grassroot exploration stage, through advanced exploration and active mining, up to reopening of abandoned mines, and refer to different problems and constraints related to the possibility of exploitation commencement. The multi-criteria analysis of the cases has included geological and economic factors as well as environmental, land use, social acceptance and infrastructure factors. These factors, in terms of cost and benefit analysis, have been considered at three levels: local, country and EU levels. The analyzed cases indicated the major obstacles that occur in different stages of deposit development and need to be overcome in order to enable a new deposit exploitation commencement. These are environmental (Juomasuo and Myszków), spatial (Juomasuo) as well as social constraints (Norra Kärr, Juomasuo). In the analyzed cases, the most important constraints related to future deposit extraction occur primarily at a local level, while some important benefits are identified mainly at the country and the EU levels. These major benefits are related to securing long-term supplies for the national industries and strategically important EU industry sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineral Deposit Safeguarding in the EU)
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Article
The Assessment of the Usefulness of Miscanthus x giganteus to Water and Soil Protection against Erosive Degradation
Resources 2021, 10(7), 66; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10070066 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 477
Abstract
Water erosion is one of the major factors of soil degradation in the world. Various methods have been developed to prevent soil erosion. One of them is the use of anti-erosion belts on slopes, but it has both positive and negative effects. In [...] Read more.
Water erosion is one of the major factors of soil degradation in the world. Various methods have been developed to prevent soil erosion. One of them is the use of anti-erosion belts on slopes, but it has both positive and negative effects. In order to minimize the negative effects, this study proposes the use of perennial grass in place of the most commonly used trees and shrubs. The paper presents studies on the erosion control effectiveness of a strip planted with Miscanthus x giganteus, established on a loess slope. Surface runoff of water and its constituents and erosion damage was studied on the experimental plot with a separate anti-erosion belt and the control plot. Obtained results indicate the anti-erosion efficiency of the established strip in the context of soil protection from water erosion and surface water protection from pollution, although, in the first years of vegetation, miscanthus has not yet reached the stage of full development. The average surface water runoff relating to precipitation causing the erosive event was 17.1% higher in the control plot than in the experimental plot. The volume of erosion damage in the form of rill erosion was 89.3% higher in the control plot. On the other hand, the volume of erosion damages in surface erosion and patches of deposited silts was lower by 14.7% and 21.6%, respectively. Soil losses from the control plot were 29% higher than those from the experimental plot. Dissolved plant nutrient runoff was also higher from the control plot by: 33.4% N-Ntot, 31.3% N-NH4, 42.7% N-NO3, 21.6% N-NO2, 22.9% P-Ptot, 24.1% K. Full article
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