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Resources, Volume 10, Issue 9 (September 2021) – 7 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Water-reuse projects create environmental pollution, the costs of which are often not included in economic assessment studies, leaving the trade-offs between economic and environmental performance uncharacterized. This study goes one step ahead and combines monetized Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) to deliver a harmonized valuation of the external and internal environmental costs of crop cultivation irrigated with reclaimed water. A key conclusion is that the economic feasibility assessments of water-reuse projects should quantitatively include external costs to enhance future decision making and generate insights into economic–environmental sustainability using a “global” performance indicator. View this paper
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Review
Platinum Group Metals: A Review of Resources, Production and Usage with a Focus on Catalysts
Resources 2021, 10(9), 93; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090093 - 20 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 825
Abstract
The major applications of PGMs are as catalysts in automotive industry, petroleum refining, environmental (gas remediation), industrial chemical production (e.g., ammonia production, fine chemicals), electronics, and medical fields. As the next generation energy technologies for hydrogen production, such as electrolysers and fuel cells [...] Read more.
The major applications of PGMs are as catalysts in automotive industry, petroleum refining, environmental (gas remediation), industrial chemical production (e.g., ammonia production, fine chemicals), electronics, and medical fields. As the next generation energy technologies for hydrogen production, such as electrolysers and fuel cells for stationary and transport applications, become mature, the demand for PGMs is expected to further increase. Reserves and annual production of Ru, Rh, Pd, Ir, and Pt have been determined and reported. Based on currently available resources, there is around 200 years lifetime based on current demand for all PGMs, apart from Pd, which may be closer to 100 years. Annual primary production of 190 t/a for Pt and 217 t/a for Pd, in combination with recycling of 65.4 t/a for Pt and 97.2 t/a for Pd, satisfies current demand. By far, the largest demand for PGMs is for all forms of catalysis, with the largest demand in auto catalysis. In fact, the biggest driver of demand and price for Pt, Pd, and Rh, in particular, is auto emission regulation, which has driven auto-catalyst design. Recovery of PGMs through recycling is generally good, but some catalytic processes, particularly auto-catalysis, result in significant dissipation. In the US, about 70% of the recycling stream from the end-of-life vehicles is a significant source of global secondary PGMs recovered from spent auto-catalyst. The significant use of PGMs in the large global auto industry is likely to continue, but the long-term transition towards electric vehicles will alter demand profiles. Full article
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Correction
Correction: Aboelnga, et al. Urban Water Security: Definition and Assessment Framework. Resources 2019, 8, 178
Resources 2021, 10(9), 92; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090092 - 14 Sep 2021
Viewed by 532
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to this paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coping with Water Scarcity in Agriculture)
Article
Opportunities and Challenges of the European Green Deal for the Chemical Industry: An Approach Measuring Innovations in Bioeconomy
Resources 2021, 10(9), 91; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090091 - 08 Sep 2021
Viewed by 473
Abstract
The Circular Economy Action Plan, as part of the European Green Deal announced by the European Commission, is highly relevant to the chemical industry in relation to the production of sustainable products. Accordingly, the chemical industry faces the question of how far it [...] Read more.
The Circular Economy Action Plan, as part of the European Green Deal announced by the European Commission, is highly relevant to the chemical industry in relation to the production of sustainable products. Accordingly, the chemical industry faces the question of how far it can promote its own manufacture of sustainable products. Within this context, this article presents an approach on how to measure innovations in bioeconomy. The methodological framework developed provides the chemical industry with an approach to assess the effectiveness of innovative conversion technologies producing biogenic intermediate products (e.g., bulk chemicals). The innovations within the bioeconomy (TRL > 4; TRL—technology readiness level) are compared in terms of technical, economic, and environmental indicators for the current status, for the medium- and long-term as well as for different production sites. The methodological approach developed here is exemplarily applied, assessing the production of intermediate biogenic products via thermo-chemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass. The results show the successful applicability of the developed assessment approach as well as significant differences in efficiency, costs, and environmental impact, both from the perspective of time and in spatial terms within the European Union. Thus, the methodological approach developed and presented enables the chemical industry to reduce challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy. Full article
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Article
The Economics of Fruit and Vegetable Production Irrigated with Reclaimed Water Incorporating the Hidden Costs of Life Cycle Environmental Impacts
Resources 2021, 10(9), 90; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090090 - 03 Sep 2021
Viewed by 418
Abstract
The estimation and quantification of external environmental costs (hidden costs) are crucial to sustainability assessments of treated wastewater reuse projects. These costs, however, are rarely considered in economic analysis studies. In this work, monetized life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) [...] Read more.
The estimation and quantification of external environmental costs (hidden costs) are crucial to sustainability assessments of treated wastewater reuse projects. These costs, however, are rarely considered in economic analysis studies. In this work, monetized life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) were combined into a hybrid model to calculate cradle-to-farm gate external environmental costs (EEC) and internal costs (IC) of producing 1 t of plant-based product irrigated with reclaimed water in a Mediterranean context. The total cost was calculated by combining monetized LCA and LCC results. The results for the crops under consideration were 119.4 €/t for tomatoes, 344.4 €/t for table grapes, and 557 €/t for artichokes. Our findings show that there are significant hidden costs at the farm level, with EEC accounting for 57%, 23%, and 38% of the total cost of tomatoes, table grapes, and artichokes, respectively. Electricity use for water treatment and fertilization generated most of the EEC driven by the global warming, particulate matter, acidification, and fossil resource scarcity impact categories. When compared to groundwater, the higher internal costs of reclaimed water were offset by lower external costs, particularly when supported by low-energy wastewater treatment. This demonstrates that incorporating EEC into economic analyses might generate a better understanding of the profitability of treated wastewater reuse in crop production. In Italy and the Mediterranean region, research on the sustainability of water reuse in irrigation through life cycle thinking is still limited. Using a multi-metric approach, our analysis brought new insights into both economic and environmental performance – and their tradeoff relationships in wastewater reuse for irrigation of agricultural crops. In future research, it would be of interest to use different monetization methods as well as to investigate social externalities to explore their size and role in the total external costs. Full article
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Article
Analysis of the Negative Daily Temperatures Influence on the Failure Rate of the Water Supply Network
Resources 2021, 10(9), 89; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090089 - 26 Aug 2021
Viewed by 409
Abstract
As a part of the critical infrastructure, water supply systems must be characterized by an appropriate level of operational reliability and safety. One of the threats to this is the failure of the water supply network, influenced by many factors, among which we [...] Read more.
As a part of the critical infrastructure, water supply systems must be characterized by an appropriate level of operational reliability and safety. One of the threats to this is the failure of the water supply network, influenced by many factors, among which we can distinguish internal factors related to the process of designing, construction and system operation, and external factors related to the impact of the environment. The paper presents the influence of negative daily temperature on the failure rate of the water supply network, taking into account the material of the pipes, their diameters, and the cause of failure. The research was carried out on operational data from the period 2004–2018 from the water supply network in a city located in south-eastern Poland. The relationship between the daily temperature and the failure rate of the water supply system has been shown. As the temperature values drop, the failure rate values increase. The biggest influence of the negative daily temperature on the water supply network failure rate is observed for cast iron pipes. PE and PVC pipes are more resistant to the influence of negative temperatures. The most common cause of failure is corrosion and unsealing of the pipes. Pipes with the diameters of 100, 150, 300, 350, and 400 mm in distribution and main networks turned out to fail most often. These results can be used by water supply companies to limit the influence of factors related to negative daily temperatures on the failure rate of the water supply network. Full article
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Article
Integration of Regression Analysis and Monte Carlo Simulation for Probabilistic Energy Policy Guidelines in Pakistan
Resources 2021, 10(9), 88; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090088 - 25 Aug 2021
Viewed by 447
Abstract
Forecasting energy demand and supply is the most crucial concern for energy policymakers. However, forecasting may introduce uncertainty in the energy model, and an energy policy based on an uncertain model could be misleading. Without certainty in energy data, investors cannot quantify risk [...] Read more.
Forecasting energy demand and supply is the most crucial concern for energy policymakers. However, forecasting may introduce uncertainty in the energy model, and an energy policy based on an uncertain model could be misleading. Without certainty in energy data, investors cannot quantify risk and trade-offs, which are compulsory for investments in energy projects. In this work, the energy policies of Pakistan are taken as a case study, and flaws in its energy policymaking are identified. A novel probabilistic model integrated with curve fitting methods was proposed and was applied to 17 different energy demand and supply variables. Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) was performed to develop probabilistic energy profiles for each year from 2017 to 2050. Results show that the forecasted energy supply of Pakistan in the years 2025 and 2050 would be 70.69 MTOE and 131.65 MTOE, respectively. The probabilistic analysis showed that there is 14% and 6% uncertainty in achieving these targets. The research shows the expected energy consumption of 70.33 MTOE and 189.48 MTOE in 2025 and 2050, respectively, indicating uncertainties of 65% and 31%. Based on the results, eight energy policy guidelines and recommendations are provided for sustainable energy resource management. This study recommends developing a robust and sustainable energy policy for Pakistan with the help of transparent governance. Full article
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Article
Assessing the Application-Specific Substitutability of Lithium-Ion Battery Cathode Chemistries Based on Material Criticality, Performance, and Price
Resources 2021, 10(9), 87; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/resources10090087 - 25 Aug 2021
Viewed by 476
Abstract
The material use of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) is widely discussed in public and scientific discourse. Cathodes of state-of-the-art LIBs are partially comprised of high-priced raw materials mined under alarming ecological and social circumstances. Moreover, battery manufacturers are searching for cathode chemistries that represent [...] Read more.
The material use of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) is widely discussed in public and scientific discourse. Cathodes of state-of-the-art LIBs are partially comprised of high-priced raw materials mined under alarming ecological and social circumstances. Moreover, battery manufacturers are searching for cathode chemistries that represent a trade-off between low costs and an acceptable material criticality of the comprised elements while fulfilling the performance requirements for the respective application of the LIB. This article provides an assessment of the substitutability of common LIB cathode chemistries (NMC 111, −532, −622, −811, NCA 3%, −9%, LMO, LFP, and LCO) for five major fields of application (traction batteries, stationary energy storage systems, consumer electronics, power-/garden tools, and domestic appliances). Therefore, we provide a tailored methodology for evaluating the substitutability of products or components and critically reflect on the results. Outcomes show that LFP is the preferable cathode chemistry while LCO obtains the worst rating for all fields of application under the assumptions made (as well as the weighting of the considered categories derived from an expert survey). The ranking based on the substitutability score of the other cathode chemistries varies per field of application. NMC 532, −811, −111, and LMO are named recommendable types of cathodes. Full article
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