Environmental Research Institute - Journal Articles

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    The NET effect: negative emissions technologies and the need-efficiency trade-off
    (Cambridge University Press, 2023-02-22) Mintz-Woo, Kian
    When developing and deploying negative emissions technologies (NETs), little attention has been paid to where. On the one hand, one might develop NETs where they are likely to contribute most to global mitigation targets, contributing to a global climate solution. On the other hand, one might develop NETs where they can help support development on a regional basis, justified by regional demands. I defend these arguments and suggest that they reflect the values of efficiency and responding to need, respectively. To the extent that these values conflict, they introduce what I call the Need-Efficiency Trade-off Effect (‘NET Effect’).
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    Methods-Ampero-Coulometry: a new technique for understanding lithium-sulfur electrochemistry
    (IOP Science, 2023-03) Gulzar, Umair; Lonergan, Alex; Egorov, Vladimir; Zhang, Yan; Grant, Alex; Carroll, Aoife; O'Dwyer, Colm; Irish Research Council; Horizon 2020; European Regional Development Fund; Enterprise Ireland
    Despite limited commercial success, lithium sulfur technology (LST) is still far from competing existing Li-ion technology. One of the main reasons hindering the success of LST is the complexity of lithium-sulfur chemistry during electrochemical charging and discharging. Dissolution of sulfur species in the electrolyte solution exacerbates the difficulties of this system. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of sulfur species and their kinetics during charge/discharge process is paramount for a high-performance lithium-sulfur battery. We present a new technique we refer to as Ampero-Coulometry, which takes the chronoamperometric (galvanostatic) charge-discharge curves and mathematically transforms them to a series of curves that reveal the cation diffusional rate inside carbon-sulfur porous electrodes at different states of charge/capacity. This technique allowed us to track the overall Li+ ion diffusional rate inside a Li-S cell over a complete state of discharge. As dissolution of sulfur species and their interplay inside a porous sulfur electrode has a significant role in limiting Li-S battery capacity, and method allows correlation between the known mechanism of polysulfide dissolution, the kinetics of a sulfur electrode, and its response.
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    Real-time nondestructive methods for examining battery electrode materials
    (American Institute of Physics, 2023-03) Grant, Alex; O'Dwyer, Colm; Irish Research Council
    With the importance of Li-ion and emerging alternative batteries to our electric future, predicting new sustainable materials, electrolytes, and complete cells that safely provide high performance, long life, and energy dense capability is critically important. Understanding the interface, the microstructure of materials, and the nature of electrolytes and factors that affect or limit long-term performance is key to new battery chemistries, cell form factors, and alternative materials. The electrochemical processes `that cause these changes are also difficult to probe because of their metastability and lifetimes, which can be of nanosecond to sub-nanosecond time domains. Consequently, developing and adapting high-resolution, nondestructive methods to capture these processes proves challenging, requiring state-of-the-art techniques. Recent progress is very promising, where optical spectroscopies, synchrotron radiation techniques, and energy-specific atom probe tomography and microscopy methods are just some of the approaches that are unraveling the true internal behavior of battery cells in real-time. In this review, we overview many of the most promising nondestructive methods developed in recent years to assess battery material properties, interfaces, processes, and reactions under operando conditions similar in electrodes and full cells.
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    Replacing fishmeal with plant protein in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) diets by supplementation with fish protein hydrolysate
    (Nature Research, 2020-12) Egerton, Sian; Wan, Alex; Murphy, Kiera; Collins, Fergus W. J.; Ahern, Grace; Sugrue, Ivan; Busca, KizKitza; Egan, Fintan; Muller, Niall; Whooley, Jason; McGinnity, Philip; Culloty, Sarah C.; Ross, R. Paul; Stanton, Catherine; Irish Research Council; Biomarine Ingredients Ireland Ltd; Teagasc; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Marine Institute
    The effects of feeding an 80% plant protein diet, with and without fish protein hydrolysate (FPH) supplementation, on the growth and gut health of Atlantic salmon were investigated. Fish were fed either (A) a control diet containing 35% fishmeal, (B) an 80% plant protein diet with 15% fishmeal, (C) an 80% plant protein diet with 5% fishmeal and 10% partly hydrolysed protein, or (D) an 80% plant protein diet with 5% fishmeal and 10% soluble protein hydrolysate. Fish on the 80% plant- 15% fishmeal diet were significantly smaller than fish in the other dietary groups. However, partly-hydrolysed protein supplementation allowed fish to grow as well as fish fed the control 35% fishmeal diet. Fish fed the FPH diets (diets C and D) had significantly higher levels of amino acids in their blood, including 48% and 27% more branched chain amino acids compared to fish on the 35% fishmeal diet, respectively. Plant protein significantly altered gut microbial composition, significantly decreasing a-diversity. Spirochaetes and the families Moritellaceae, Psychromonadaceae, Helicobacteraceae and Bacteroidaceae were all found at significantly lower abundances in the groups fed 80% plant protein diets compared to the control fishmeal diet.
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    Characteristics of wastewater originating from dental practices using predominantly mercury-free dental materials
    (Elsevier B.V., 2022-01-07) Binner, Hannah; Kamali, N.; Harding, Mairead; Sullivan, Timothy; Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment, Ireland
    Dental materials are currently undergoing a revolution. Mercury use, including traditional amalgam (mercury-containing) material used in dental fillings, is now being widely regulated under the Minamata convention, and dental amalgam is currently being replaced by resin formulations in dentistry. These resin-based materials can be tuned to offer varying material properties by incorporation of a range of nano- and micro-particle based 'fillers' for different dental properties and applications. However, these innovations may have a concomitant effect on the waste streams associated with common dental applications, in particular the potential for higher concentrations of novel micro- and nanomaterials within wastewater streams, and a potential route for novel nanomaterials into the wider Environment. These new materials may also mean that wastewater filtering apparatus commonly deployed at present, such as amalgam separators, may be less efficient or insufficient to capture these new filler materials in dental facility wastewater. In this work, we analyse dental wastewater streams from three dental facilities in Ireland with differing amalgam separators in place. The potential overall toxicity, particulate load and physicochemical properties are analysed. The overall risk posed by these new materials is also discussed.