Acknowledgements to the Research Councils UK and the Department of Science and Technology (Govt of India).
Researchers of the Sustainable Environment Research Group have proven that it is possible to cool greenhouses using solar energy. In hot countries this will enable crops to be cultivated outside the normal growing seasons. Though methods for cooling greenhouses already exist they are poorly suited to hot and humid places like the India and the Middle East. For his PhD project George Lychnos has developed a method for greenhouse cooling that relies on the properties of salts found in seawater. Magnesium salt attracts moisture and, by removing moisture from the air, makes it possible to cool the air by bringing it into contact with seawater. The magnesium chloride salt is recycled as a solution and kept concentrated by the action of sunlight which drives off moisture.
Writing in the journal Energy, Dr. Lychnos and his supervisor Dr. Philip Davies have reported that the solar-cooled cooling system permits cultivation of crops like lettuce, tomato, cucumber and soya all year round – even in the harshest climates. ‘The world’s population is growing most quickly in hot countries and climate change is now posing an additional threat to food security’, says Davies, ‘New technologies are needed to cultivate food intensively in protected environments and these technologies should use renewable energy sources like solar’.
Though there are many concepts available for solar-powered cooling, most of them rely on toxic fluids and heavy-duty pressure vessels. In contrast, this new system needs only seawater and sunlight and operates at atmospheric pressure.
Acknowledgements to the Royal Society and the Greek State Scholarship Foundation.
De-inking sludge is a waste derived from secondary fibre paper mills and is produced during the de-inking stage of paper recycling. Approximately 1 million tonnes of sludge are produced each year in the UK. Currently de-inking sludge is disposed of land-spreading, incineration with natural gas, or by land filling – practices which are highly unsustainable and costly.
An alternative is to convert the sludge into liquid fuels by thermal processing (pyrolysis) which can be used in diesel engines. We are working with the European Bio-energy Research Institute at Aston which has developed intermediate pyrolysis as a means of processing a wide range of biomass and waste materials. Intermediate pyrolysis is being applied to sludge acquired from a local paper mill.
The first stage in the testing of any alternative fuel is to characterize the fuel: this includes measurements of calorific value, flashpoint, cetane index, pH, density, viscosity and elemental analysis. These give an indication of the suitability of the fuel. Pyrolysis liquids are difficult to use in pure form but they can be used as blends with standard diesel or preferably biodiesel. Our engine testing facility enables a range of parameters to be studied, including fuel consumption, cylinder pressures and combustion characteristics, and exhaust gas compositions. Constituents in the exhaust gas like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates can contribute to atmospheric pollution causing global warming or smog formation. Careful attention of the engine parameters and fuel blend can minimize these pollutants while maximizing the engine performance and power output.
Acknowledgements to Research Councils UK
The Punjab in Pakistan is a major agricultural area where the productivity of the land has been improved by the creation of large scale irrigation schemes at the start of the 20th century. One of these schemes, the Lower Bari Dohab Canal Improvement project is to be renovated with funding from the Asian Development Bank and the Government of the Punjab. The project area is about half the size of the county of Yorkshire and involves the conjunctive use of thousands of water wells and many irrigation canals and distributaries. Dr. John Elgy is responsible for the collection and collation of all the data relevant to the area and its hydrology. Some of the data dates back to the 1930s. Much of this data is in old formats and units with the use of multiple map projections and datums, some of which are poorly documented. The data is being restructured into a Geographical Information System (GIS) to give a coherent database. Local staff are being trained in the use of GIS and database management systems.
The project makes extensive use of Dr. Elgy’s expertise in water and land resources planning, groundwater hydrology, remote sensing and geographical information systems where he has published and supervised doctoral students. His teaching of database management systems at undergraduate level and experience in developing countries prompted german-based consultancy Lahmeyer International to approach him to take up the post.
The map illustrates an example of the work being done. It shows a digital elevation model of the project area bounded by the main rivers of the region: Sutlej, Chenab and Ravi.
Acknowledgements to the Asian Development Bank and the Government of the Punjab
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