Hydrogen production. Green algae as a source of energy.
Hydrogen gas is thought to be the ideal fuel for a world in which air pollution has been alleviated, global warming has been arrested, and the environment has been protected in an economically sustainable manner. Hydrogen and electricity could team to provide attractive options in transportation and power generation. Interconversion between these two forms of energy suggests on-site utilization of hydrogen to generate electricity, with the electrical power grid serving in energy transportation, distribution utilization, and hydrogen regeneration as needed. A challenging problem in establishing H(2) as a source of energy for the future is the renewable and environmentally friendly generation of large quantities of H(2) gas. Thus, processes that are presently conceptual in nature, or at a developmental stage in the laboratory, need to be encouraged, tested for feasibility, and otherwise applied toward commercialization. (+info
The health impacts of exposure to indoor air pollution from solid fuels in developing countries: knowledge, gaps, and data needs.
Globally, almost 3 billion people rely on biomass (wood, charcoal, crop residues, and dung) and coal as their primary source of domestic energy. Exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP) from the combustion of solid fuels is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. In this paper, we review the current knowledge on the relationship between IAP exposure and disease and on interventions for reducing exposure and disease. We take an environmental health perspective and consider the details of both exposure and health effects that are needed for successful intervention strategies. We also identify knowledge gaps and detailed research questions that are essential in successful design and dissemination of preventive measures and policies. In addition to specific research recommendations, we conclude that given the interaction of housing, household energy, and day-to-day household activities in determining exposure to indoor smoke, research and development of effective interventions can benefit tremendously from integration of methods and analysis tools from a range of disciplines in the physical, social, and health sciences. (+info
Daily average exposures to respirable particulate matter from combustion of biomass fuels in rural households of southern India.
Indoor air pollution resulting from combustion of biomass fuels in rural households of developing countries is now recognized as a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Accurate estimation of health risks has been hampered by a paucity of quantitative exposure information. In this study we quantified exposures to respirable particulate matter from biomass-fuel combustion in 436 rural homes selected through stratified random sampling from four districts of Tamil Nadu, India. The study households are a subset of a larger sample of 5,028 households from the same districts in which socioeconomic and health information has been collected. Results of measurements for personal exposures to respirable particulate matter during cooking were reported earlier. This has been extended to calculation of 24-hr exposures with the aid of additional measurements during noncooking times and the collection of time-activity records. Concentrations of respirable particulate matter ranged from 500 to 2,000 micro g/m(3) during cooking in biomass-using households, and average 24-hr exposures ranged from 90 +/- 21 micro g/m(3) for those not involved in cooking to 231 +/- 109 micro g/m(3) for those who cooked. The 24-hr exposures were around 82 +/- 39 micro g/m(3) for those in households using clean fuels (with similar exposures across household subgroups). Fuel type, type and location of the kitchen, and the time spent near the kitchen while cooking were the most important determinants of exposure across these households among other parameters examined, including stove type, cooking duration, and smoke from neighborhood cooking. These estimates could be used to build a regional exposure database and facilitate health risk assessments. (+info
The origin, fate, and health effects of combustion by-products: a research framework.
Incomplete combustion processes can emit organic pollutants, metals, and fine particles. Combustion by-products represent global human and environmental health challenges that are relevant not only in heavily industrialized nations, but also in developing nations where up to 90% of rural households rely on unprocessed biomass fuels for cooking, warmth, and light. These issues were addressed at the Seventh International Congress on Combustion By-Products, which convened 4-6 June 2001 in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This congress included a diverse group of multidisciplinary researchers and practitioners who discussed recent developments and future goals in the control of combustion by-products and their effects of exposure on human and ecologic health. Participants recommended that interdisciplinary, coordinated research efforts should be focused to capitalize on the important potential synergisms between efforts to reduce the adverse human health effects linked to exposures to combustion by-products and broader efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy through efficiency. In this article we summarize the principal findings and recommendations for research focus and direction. (+info
Electricity generation by direct oxidation of glucose in mediatorless microbial fuel cells.
Abundant energy, stored primarily in the form of carbohydrates, can be found in waste biomass from agricultural, municipal and industrial sources as well as in dedicated energy crops, such as corn and other grains. Potential strategies for deriving useful forms of energy from carbohydrates include production of ethanol and conversion to hydrogen, but these approaches face technical and economic hurdles. An alternative strategy is direct conversion of sugars to electrical power. Existing transition metal-catalyzed fuel cells cannot be used to generate electric power from carbohydrates. Alternatively, biofuel cells in which whole cells or isolated redox enzymes catalyze the oxidation of the sugar have been developed, but their applicability has been limited by several factors, including (i) the need to add electron-shuttling compounds that mediate electron transfer from the cell to the anode, (ii) incomplete oxidation of the sugars and (iii) lack of long-term stability of the fuel cells. Here we report on a novel microorganism, Rhodoferax ferrireducens, that can oxidize glucose to CO(2) and quantitatively transfer electrons to graphite electrodes without the need for an electron-shuttling mediator. Growth is supported by energy derived from the electron transfer process itself and results in stable, long-term power production. (+info
Exposure assessment for respirable particulates associated with household fuel use in rural districts of Andhra Pradesh, India.
Indoor air pollution associated with combustion of solid fuels seems to be a major contributor to the national burden of disease in India, but relatively few quantitative exposure assessment studies are available. This study quantified the daily average concentrations of respirable particulates (50% cut-off at 4 microm) in 412 rural homes selected through stratified random sampling from three districts of Andhra Pradesh, India and recorded time activity data from 1400 individuals to reconstruct 24-h average exposures. The mean 24-h average concentrations ranged from 73 to 732 microg/m(3) in gas- versus solid fuel-using households, respectively. Concentrations were significantly correlated with fuel type, kitchen type, and fuel quantity. The mean 24-h average exposures ranged from 80 to 573 microg/m(3). Among solid fuel users, the mean 24-h average exposures were the highest for women cooks and were significantly different from men and children. Among women, exposures were the highest in the age group of 15-40 years (most likely to be involved in cooking or helping in cooking), while among men, exposures were highest in the age group of 65-80 years (most likely to be indoors). The data are being used to develop a model to predict quantitative categories of population exposure based on survey information on housing and fuel characteristics. This would facilitate the development of a regional exposure database and enable better estimation of health risks. (+info
Potential role of a novel psychrotolerant member of the family Geobacteraceae, Geopsychrobacter electrodiphilus gen. nov., sp. nov., in electricity production by a marine sediment fuel cell.
Previous studies have shown that members of the family Geobacteraceae that attach to the anodes of sediment fuel cells are directly involved in harvesting electricity by oxidizing organic compounds to carbon dioxide and transferring the electrons to the anode. In order to learn more about this process, microorganisms from the anode surface of a marine sediment fuel cell were enriched and isolated with Fe(III) oxide. Two unique marine isolates were recovered, strains A1(T) and A2. They are gram-negative, nonmotile rods, with abundant c-type cytochromes. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA, recA, gyrB, fusA, rpoB, and nifD genes indicated that strains A1(T) and A2 represent a unique phylogenetic cluster within the Geobacteraceae. Both strains were able to grow with an electrode serving as the sole electron acceptor and transferred ca. 90% of the electrons available in their organic electron donors to the electrodes. These organisms are the first psychrotolerant members of the Geobacteraceae reported thus far and can grow at temperatures between 4 and 30 degrees C, with an optimum temperature of 22 degrees C. Strains A1(T) and A2 can utilize a wide range of traditional electron acceptors, including all forms of soluble and insoluble Fe(III) tested, anthraquinone 2,6-disulfonate, and S(0). In addition to acetate, both strains can utilize a number of other organic acids, amino acids, long-chain fatty acids, and aromatic compounds to support growth with Fe(III) nitrilotriacetic acid as an electron acceptor. The metabolism of these organisms differs in that only strain A1(T) can use acetoin, ethanol, and hydrogen as electron donors, whereas only strain A2 can use lactate, propionate, and butyrate. The name Geopsychrobacter electrodiphilus gen. nov., sp. nov., is proposed for strains A1(T) and A2, with strain A1(T) (ATCC BAA-880(T); DSM 16401(T); JCM 12469) as the type strain. Strains A1(T) and A2 (ATCC BAA-770; JCM 12470) represent the first organisms recovered from anodes that can effectively couple the oxidation of organic compounds to an electrode. Thus, they may serve as important model organisms for further elucidation of the mechanisms of microbe-electrode electron transfer in sediment fuel cells. (+info
Evidence for involvement of an electron shuttle in electricity generation by Geothrix fermentans.
In experiments performed using graphite electrodes poised by a potentiostat (+200 mV versus Ag/AgCl) or in a microbial fuel cell (with oxygen as the electron acceptor), the Fe(III)-reducing organism Geothrix fermentans conserved energy to support growth by coupling the complete oxidation of acetate to reduction of a graphite electrode. Other organic compounds, such as lactate, malate, propionate, and succinate as well as components of peptone and yeast extract, were utilized for electricity production. However, electrical characteristics and the results of shuttling assays indicated that unlike previously described electrode-reducing microorganisms, G. fermentans produced a compound that promoted electrode reduction. This is the first report of complete oxidation of organic compounds linked to electrode reduction by an isolate outside of the Proteobacteria. (+info