Special Issue "Environmental Sustainability-Life Cycle Assessment-Energy and Environmental Technology"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 9838

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Spyros Foteinis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
EYDAP SA, Environmental Affairs and Research and Development (R&D) Department, Athens, Greece
Interests: environmental impact assessment; sustainable production and consumption; renewable energy generation; coastal engineering; wave enegy; environmental monitoring; sustainable water and wastewater treatment; life cycle analysis (LCA); biofuel production

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental pressures acting at a local and, particularly, global scale have long drawn the attention of the academic community and more recently of decision- and policy-makers and the general public. The effects of climate change, which are currently unfolding before our very eyes, are just a typical example of environmental pressures acting on a global scale and suggest the need for identifying and quantifying the effect of human activities on the environment. Water, air, and soil pollution also comprise problems of emerging environmental concern. To effectively address environmental pressures and curtail wasteful and polluting practices, state-of-the-art and robust tools should be employed. Among the existing methods for identifying and quantifying the environmental sustainability of human activities, the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology has emerged as a promising tool. As such, this Special Issue will aim to shed light on the environmental sustainability of various engineering processes and on sustainable production and consumption patterns by making use of robust tools, such as LCA methodology. Furthermore, focus is also placed on energy generation and renewable energy technologies, since currently, the global energy mix is fossil-fuel-dependent, thus having a huge impact on the environment and human health. Works dealing with the treatment, depollution, and environmental remediation of soil, air, and water are also encouraged.

Dr. Spyros Foteinis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sustainable production and consumption
  • circular economy
  • resource recovery and valorization
  • sustainable biofuel production
  • green, smart and sustainable infrastructure
  • clean energy generation
  • sustainable water and wastewater treatment
  • sustainable cities and rural communities
  • United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Bibliographic Coupling Links: Alternative Approaches to Carrying Out Systematic Reviews about Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Environments 2022, 9(2), 28; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments9020028 - 12 Feb 2022
Viewed by 756
Abstract
New technologies, specifically the internet, have over the last two decades increased the number of publications in the most diverse fields of science. Subjects related to renewable and sustainable energy are no exception. These frameworks have allowed the main insights produced by the [...] Read more.
New technologies, specifically the internet, have over the last two decades increased the number of publications in the most diverse fields of science. Subjects related to renewable and sustainable energy are no exception. These frameworks have allowed the main insights produced by the scientific community through literature surveys to be highlighted. Nonetheless, considering the vast quantity of studies, systematic approaches have been proposed by the researchers to better organize and perform the literature review. Considering the subjectivity of some of these methodologies, the main objectives of this research are to conduct a systematic review about renewable and sustainable energy through more objective techniques, based on bibliometric analysis, to provide an alternative or to complement those already available within the literature. For this purpose, a “Biblio4Review” approach was proposed in order to perform systematic reviews about renewable and sustainable energy that may spread into other scientific fields. This methodology is based on bibliographic coupling links from the bibliometric analysis to identify the most relevant studies for the literature review. The results obtained highlight that with this approach it was possible to identify the studies with greater centrality in terms of references shared. In this way, they are among the most relevant documents for these topics. Specifically for the topic considered (renewable and sustainable energy) the main insights were referred to. In any case, the findings obtained show that there is a field for more interdisciplinary approaches. Full article
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Article
Thermal Pollution Mitigation and Energy Harnessing of the Condensation Process of an Olive Oil Extraction Refinery: A Case Study
Environments 2021, 8(8), 84; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080084 - 20 Aug 2021
Viewed by 912
Abstract
This paper presents a model to assess strategies for bettering a hexane condensation system from an olive oil extraction refinery in Portugal’s mountainous north. The water used as a cooling fluid is discharged with a higher temperature than the mountain river, provoking the [...] Read more.
This paper presents a model to assess strategies for bettering a hexane condensation system from an olive oil extraction refinery in Portugal’s mountainous north. The water used as a cooling fluid is discharged with a higher temperature than the mountain river, provoking the deterioration of the aquatic flora and fauna, leading to high environmental impact. The model allowed the comparison of solutions for different temperatures of discharge for summer and winter and possible heat recovery back to the factory. The current condensation system power is 1.838 MW and consists of a four-walled pond of 115.3 m3 that cools down the submerged hexane pipes. Nudging in the pond’s structure leads to the introduction of internal channels to increase the turbulence, thus increasing the hexane–water heat exchange rate. Heat recovery of 19.38 kW is possible for the water coming from the pond in the drying bagasse process inside the factory, before discharge into the river. However, the model demonstrates that the decrease in temperature after the heat recovery process falls short of avoiding thermal pollution, leading to complementary actions such as shading the channel or changing the discharge velocity or angle to mitigate the thermal pollution locally. Full article
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Article
Investigating Spatiotemporal Variability of Water, Energy, and Carbon Flows: A Probabilistic Fuzzy Synthetic Evaluation Framework for Higher Education Institutions
Environments 2021, 8(8), 72; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080072 - 30 Jul 2021
Viewed by 956
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) consume significant energy and water and contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. HEIs are under pressure internally and externally to improve their overall performance on reducing GHG emissions within their boundaries. It is necessary to identify critical areas of [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) consume significant energy and water and contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. HEIs are under pressure internally and externally to improve their overall performance on reducing GHG emissions within their boundaries. It is necessary to identify critical areas of high GHG emissions within a campus to help find solutions to improve the overall sustainability performance of the campus. An integrated probabilistic-fuzzy framework is developed to help universities address the uncertainty associated with the reporting of water, energy, and carbon (WEC) flows within a campus. The probabilistic assessment using Monte Carlo Simulations effectively addressed the aleatory uncertainties, due to the randomness in the variations of the recorded WEC usages, while the fuzzy synthetic evaluation addressed the epistemic uncertainties, due to vagueness in the linguistic variables associated with WEC benchmarks. The developed framework is applied to operational, academic, and residential buildings at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus). Three scenarios are analyzed, allocating the partial preference to water, or energy, or carbon. Furthermore, nine temporal seasons are generated to assess the variability, due to occupancy and climate changes. Finally, the aggregation is completed for the assessed buildings. The study reveals that climatic and type of buildings significantly affect the overall performance of a university. This study will help the sustainability centers and divisions in HEIs assess the spatiotemporal variability of WEC flows and effectively address the uncertainties to cover a wide range of human judgment. Full article
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Article
Material Properties and Environmental Benefits of Hot-Mix Asphalt Mixes Including Local Crumb Rubber Obtained from Scrap Tires
Environments 2021, 8(6), 47; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8060047 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1378
Abstract
This paper presents the results of a laboratory-based experimental investigation on the properties of asphalt binder and hot-mix asphalt (HMA) mixes modified by locally available crumb rubber, which was used as a partial replacement of asphalt by weight. In this study, fine crumb [...] Read more.
This paper presents the results of a laboratory-based experimental investigation on the properties of asphalt binder and hot-mix asphalt (HMA) mixes modified by locally available crumb rubber, which was used as a partial replacement of asphalt by weight. In this study, fine crumb rubber with a particle size in the range of 0.3–0.6 mm, obtained from scrap tires, was added to the asphalt binder through the wet process. Crumb rubber contents of 5%, 10%, 15%, and 19% by weight of asphalt were added to the virgin binder in order to prepare the modified asphalt binder samples, while the unmodified asphalt binder was used as the control sample. The crumb rubber modified binder samples were examined for measuring viscosity indirectly using the penetration test, and temperature resistance using the softening point test. Later, both the modified and unmodified asphalt binders were used to produce HMA mixes. Two categories of HMA mix commonly used in Malaysia—namely, AC 14 (dense-graded) and SMA 14 (gap-graded)—were produced using the modified asphalt binders containing 5%, 10%, 15%, and 19% crumb rubber. Two AC 14 and SMA 14 control mixes were also produced, incorporating the unmodified asphalt binder (0% crumb rubber). All of the AC 14 and SMA 14 asphalt mixes were examined in order to determine their volumetric properties, such as bulk density, voids in total mix (VTM), voids in mineral aggregate (VMA), and voids filled with asphalt (VFA). In addition, the Marshall stability, Marshall flow, and stiffness of all of the AC 14 and SMA 14 mixes were determined. Test results indicated that the modified asphalt binders possessed higher viscosity and temperature resistance than the unmodified asphalt binder. The viscosity and temperature resistance of the asphalt binders increased with the increase in their crumb rubber content. The increased crumb rubber content also led to improvements in the volumetric properties (bulk density, VTM, VMA, and VFA) of the AC 14 and SMA 14 mixes. In addition, the performance characteristics of the AC 14 and SMA 14 mixes—such as Marshall stability, Marshall flow, and stiffness—increased with the increase in crumb rubber content. However, the AC 14 mixes performed much better than the SMA 14 mixes. The overall research findings suggest that crumb rubber can be used to produce durable and sustainable HMA mixes, with manifold environmental benefits, for use in flexible pavements carrying the heavy traffic load of highways. Full article
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Article
Environmental Impacts of Conventional versus Organic Eggplant Cultivation Systems: Influence of Electricity Mix, Yield, Over-Fertilization, and Transportation
Environments 2021, 8(3), 23; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030023 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1601
Abstract
We report a comparative environmental study of organic and conventional open-field eggplant cultivation systems under Mediterranean (northern Greece) climatic conditions. Actual life cycle inventory (LCI) data were collected from local farm systems. Using life cycle assessment (LCA), organic eggplant cultivation exhibited better environmental [...] Read more.
We report a comparative environmental study of organic and conventional open-field eggplant cultivation systems under Mediterranean (northern Greece) climatic conditions. Actual life cycle inventory (LCI) data were collected from local farm systems. Using life cycle assessment (LCA), organic eggplant cultivation exhibited better environmental performance per unit area (24.15% lower total environmental footprint compared to conventional cultivation), but conventional cultivation performed better per unit of mass (28.10% lower total environmental footprint compared to organic cultivation). The conventional system attained higher scores in eutrophication (up to 37.12%) and ecotoxicity (up to 83.00%) midpoint impact categories, due to the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide. This highlights the need for spatially explicit LCA that accounts for local environmental impacts at the local scale. For both cultivation systems, the main environmental hotspot was groundwater abstraction for irrigation owing to its infrastructure (drip irrigation pipes and pump) and electricity consumption from the fossil fuel-dependent energy mix in Greece. Excessive addition of soil fertilizer greatly affected the environmental sustainability of both systems, especially conventional cultivation, indicating an urgent need for fertilizer guidelines that enhance environmentally sustainable agricultural practice worldwide. Results were sensitive to lower marketable fruit yield, with the organic system performing better in terms of environmental relevance with respect to maximum yield. When renewable energy sources (RES) were used to drive irrigation, both systems exhibited reductions in total environmental footprint, suggesting that RES could help decarbonise the agricultural sector. Finally, eggplant transportation greatly affected the environmental sustainability of both cultivation systems, confirming that local production and consumption are important perquisites for environmental sustainability of agricultural products. Full article
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Review

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Review
Empirical Research of Public Acceptance on Environmental Tax: A Systematic Literature Review
Environments 2021, 8(10), 109; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8100109 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 813
Abstract
Several international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), and World Bank recommend that policymakers implement an environmental tax to reduce climate change, protect the environment and gain more income for governments. Effectiveness of the policy [...] Read more.
Several international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), and World Bank recommend that policymakers implement an environmental tax to reduce climate change, protect the environment and gain more income for governments. Effectiveness of the policy depends on a carefully designed framework, which essentially adopts the social and economic contextual of a country and public support. Researchers have been focusing on examining the factors that influence public acceptance of an environmental tax. This paper aims to systematically review the empirical studies using the RepOrting Standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses (ROSES) protocol. The information is relevant for policy makers in designing a feasible and acceptable carbon tax policy. Furthermore, the paper provides suggestions for future research. Related articles were selected using two leading databases, namely Scopus and Science Direct, and one supporting database, namely Google Scholar. Thematic analysis was conducted on 60 articles and four main themes were derived with 32 subthemes. The analysis indicates that people are more supportive when they (i) are well informed about a policy’s effectiveness and the policy content, particularly the use of revenue, (ii) have high trust in the government, (iii) have a positive attitude toward protecting the environment, (iv) perceive the policy is fair in terms of costs distribution and social sharing, and (v) are concerned about the climate change issue. Full article
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Review
Status of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Africa
Environments 2021, 8(2), 10; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8020010 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2552
Abstract
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has received attention as a tool to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and services. In the last 20 years, research on the topic has increased, and now more than 25,000 articles are related to LCA in scientific journals [...] Read more.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has received attention as a tool to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and services. In the last 20 years, research on the topic has increased, and now more than 25,000 articles are related to LCA in scientific journals databases such as the Scopus database; however, the concept is relatively new in Africa, where the number of networks has been highlighted to be very low when compared to the other regions. This paper focuses on a review of life cycle assessments conducted in Africa over the last 20 years. It aims at highlighting the current research gap for African LCA. A total of 199 papers were found for the whole continent; this number is lower than that for both Japan and Germany (more than 400 articles each) and nearly equal to developing countries such as Thailand. Agriculture is the sector which received the most attention, representing 53 articles, followed by electricity and energy (60 articles for the two sectors). South Africa (43), Egypt (23), and Tunisia (19) were the countries where most of the research was conducted. Even if the number of articles related to LCA have increased in recent years, many steps still remain. For example, establishing a specific life cycle inventory (LCI) database for African countries or a targeted ideal life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) method. Several African key sectors could also be assessed further. Full article
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