In this study, we investigated the in situ responses of Red Sea picophytoplankton, the dominant phytoplankton group in the oligotrophic ocean, to two toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phenanthrene and pyrene. The experiments were conducted across a latitudinal gradient of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea, an area sensitive to oil pollution. We observed significant adverse effects on the growth and abundance of the picocyanobacteria Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes, at all stations sampled. Prochlorococcus, which was abundant only at one of the stations, also appeared to be affected. Pyrene was found to be more toxic to phytoplankton at all stations. In general, picoeukaryotes exhibited higher sensitivity to PAHs than Synechococcus. Populations in the highly oligotrophic Northern region of the Red Sea were more tolerant to PAHs, presumably influenced by the natural selection of more resistant strains of phytoplankton due to the prolonged exposure to PAHs. Toxicity threshold values estimated here are higher than those reported for picophytoplankton from other oligotrophic marine waters and exceed by far the natural levels of PAHs in many oceans. Our findings reveal a possible adaptation of picophytoplankton populations to oil-related contaminants, which may clearly influence their spatial distribution patterns in the Red Sea.
This study investigated the performance of an integrated osmotic and microfiltration membrane bioreactor for real sewage employing baffles in the reactor. To study the biofouling development on forward osmosis membranes optical coherence tomography (OCT) technique was employed. On-line monitoring of biofilm growth on a flat sheet cellulose triacetate forward osmosis (CTA-FO) membrane was conducted for 21 days. Further, the process performance was evaluated in terms of water flux, organic and nutrient removal, microbial activity in terms of soluble microbial products (SMP) and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS), and floc size. The measured biofouling layer thickness was in the order sodium chloride (NaCl) > ammonium sulfate (SOA) > potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KH2PO4). Very high organic removal (96.9±0.8 %) and reasonably good nutrient removal efficiency (85.2±1.6 % TN) was achieved. The sludge characteristics and biofouling layer thickness suggest that less EPS and higher floc size were the governing factors for less fouling.
Extending the stability of polymeric membranes in organic solvents is important for applications in chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Thin-film composite membranes with enhanced solvent permeance are proposed, using porphyrin as a building block. Hybrid polyamide films are formed by interfacial polymerization of 5,10,15,20-(tetra-4-aminophenyl)porphyrin/m-phenylene diamine (MPD) mixtures with trimesoyl chloride. Porphyrin is a non-planar molecule, containing a heterocyclic tetrapyrrole unit. Its incorporation into a polyamide film leads to higher free volume than that of a standard polyamide film. Polyamide films derived from porphyrin and MPD amines with a fixed total amine concentration of 1wt% and various porphyrin/MPD ratios were fabricated and characterized. The porphyrin/MPD polyamide film was complexed with Cu(II), due to the binding capacity of porphyrin to metal ions. By coupling scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) with electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS), Cu mapping was obtained, revealing the distribution of porphyrin in the interfacial polymerized layer. By using porphyrin as amine-functionalized monomer a membrane with thin selective skin and enhanced solvent transport is obtained, with good dye selectivity in the nanofiltration range. For instance, an ultra-fast hexane permeance, 40-fold increased, was confirmed when using 0.5/0.5 porphyrin/MPD mixtures, instead of only MPD as amine monomer. A rejection of 94.2% Brilliant Blue R (826g/mol) in methanol was measured.
This study demonstrates the application of in situ ferrate (Fe(VI)) for the efficient removal of dissolved algal organic matter (AOM) from seawater. Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and ferric (Fe(III)) were used to produce in situ Fe(VI) by wet chemical oxidation. First, the removal efficiencies of model AOM compounds, humic acid (HA), and sodium alginate (SA) were evaluated in the presence of sodium chloride with an initial influent dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration of 5.0 mg C L−1 at different pH levels to establish the optimal doses for in situ Fe(VI) generation. The concentration of Fe(VI) was determined by the 2,2-Azino-bis (3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) ultraviolet–visible spectrophotometry method. In the case of HA, 72% DOC removal was recorded when applied with 1.5 mg L−1 of Fe(III) and 1.5 mg L−1 of NaOCl (in situ Fe(VI) concentration of 1.46 mg L−1) while 42% DOC removal was observed for SA. Subsequently, the removal of AOM extracted from two bloom-forming algal species, Chaetoceros affinis (CA) and Hymenomonas (Hym), cultivated in seawater from the Red Sea, were tested with in situ generated Fe(VI) at the established optimum condition. In situ Fe(VI) recorded superior performance in removing AOM extracted from CA and Hym, showing 83% and 92% DOC removal when the influent DOC concentrations were 2.48 and 2.63 mg L−1, respectively. A detailed AOM characterization was conducted using liquid chromatography–organic carbon detection.
Eftekhari, Behzad; Marder, M.; Patzek, Tadeusz(Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, Elsevier BV, 2018-05-23)[Article]
About half of US natural gas comes from gas shales. It is valuable to study field production well by well. We present a field data-driven solution for long-term shale gas production from a horizontal, hydrofractured well far from other wells and reservoir boundaries. Our approach is a hybrid between an unstructured big-data approach and physics-based models. We extend a previous two-parameter scaling theory of shale gas production by adding a third parameter that incorporates gas inflow from the external unstimulated reservoir. This allows us to estimate for the first time the effective permeability of the unstimulated shale and the spacing of fractures in the stimulated region. From an analysis of wells in the Barnett shale, we find that on average stimulation fractures are spaced every 20 m, and the effective permeability of the unstimulated region is 100 nanodarcy. We estimate that over 30 years on production the Barnett wells will produce on average about 20% more gas because of inflow from the outside of the stimulated volume. There is a clear tradeoff between production rate and ultimate recovery in shale gas development. In particular, our work has strong implications for well spacing in infill drilling programs.
Alsaadi, Ahmad Salem; Alpatova, Alla; Lee, Jung Gil; Francis, Lijo; Ghaffour, NorEddine(Journal of Membrane Science, Elsevier BV, 2018-05-28)[Article]
The coupling of heat and mass transfer in membrane distillation (MD) process makes enhancing water vapor flux and determining MD membrane mass transfer coefficient (MTC) fairly challenging due to the development of temperature gradient near the membrane surface, referred to as temperature polarization (TP). As a result, the change in feed temperature at the membrane surface will be difficult to measure accurately. In this paper, the effect of TP was decoupled from the membrane MTC by preventing the liquid feed stream from contacting the membrane surface through the use of a novel custom-made vacuum MD (VMD) module design. Results showed that a temperature difference of 10°C between the feed bulk and feed temperatures at the membrane surface/interface is estimated to take place in the typical VMD configuration, while the proposed flashed-feed VMD configuration eliminates TP effect and gives a flux 3.5-fold higher (200kg/m2.hr) under similar operating conditions. Therefore, it can be concluded that heat transfer coefficient is considered to be the main factor controlling resistance of water vapor flux in the typical VMD configuration. The measured MTC of the tested commercial membrane was found to be more accurate and the highest among all reported MTCs in the MD literature (2.44×10−6kg/m2.s.Pa). Additionally, a transmembrane temperature difference of 5°C and 10°C in the novel configuration can produce water vapor fluxes of about 9kg/m2.hr and 40kg/m2.hr, respectively, at a feed temperature of 70°C, which is very attractive for scaling-up the process.
Al-Noman, Saeed M.; Choi, Byung Chul; Chung, Suk-Ho(Combustion and Flame, Elsevier BV, 2018-05-16)[Article]
Autoignited lifted flames of dimethyl ether (DME) in laminar nonpremixed jets with high-temperature coflow air have been studied experimentally. When the initial temperature was elevated to over 860 K, an autoignition occurred without requiring an external ignition source. A planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) technique for formaldehyde (CH2O) visualized qualitatively the zone of low temperature kinetics in a premixed flame. Two flame configurations were investigated; (1) autoignited lifted flames with tribrachial edge having three distinct branches of a lean and a rich premixed flame wings with a trailing diffusion flame and (2) autoignited lifted flames with mild combustion when the fuel was highly diluted. For the autoignited tribrachial edge flames at critical autoignition conditions, exhibiting repetitive extinction and re-ignition phenomena near a blowout condition, the characteristic flow time (liftoff height scaled with jet velocity) was correlated with the square of the ignition delay time of the stoichiometric mixture. The liftoff heights were also correlated as a function of jet velocity times the square of ignition delay time. Formaldehydes were observed between the fuel nozzle and the lifted flame edge, emphasizing a low-temperature kinetics for autoignited lifted flames, while for a non-autoignited lifted flame, formaldehydes were observed near a thin luminous flame zone.For the autoignited lifted flames with mild combustion, especially at a high temperature, a unique non-monotonic liftoff height behavior was observed; decreasing and then increasing liftoff height with jet velocity. This behavior was similar to the binary mixture fuels of CH4/H2 and CO/H2 observed previously. A transient homogeneous autoignition analysis suggested that such decreasing behavior with jet velocity can be attributed to partial oxidation characteristics of DME in producing appreciable amounts of CH4/CO/H2 ahead of the edge flame region.
Enayatpour, Saeid; van Oort, Eric; Patzek, Tadeusz(Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, Elsevier BV, 2018-05-17)[Article]
Extensive research has been conducted over the past two decades to improve hydraulic fracturing methods used for hydrocarbon recovery from tight reservoir rocks such as shales. Our focus in this paper is on thermal fracturing of such tight rocks to enhance hydraulic fracturing efficiency. Thermal fracturing is effective in generating small fractures in the near-wellbore zone - or in the vicinity of natural or induced fractures - that may act as initiation points for larger fractures. Previous analytical and numerical results indicate that thermal fracturing in tight rock significantly enhances rock permeability, thereby enhancing hydrocarbon recovery. Here, we present a more powerful way of simulating the initiation and propagation of thermally induced fractures in tight formations using the Cohesive Zone Method (CZM). The advantages of CZM are: 1) CZM simulation is fast compared to similar models which are based on the spring-mass particle method or Discrete Element Method (DEM); 2) unlike DEM, rock material complexities such as scale-dependent failure behavior can be incorporated in a CZM simulation; 3) CZM is capable of predicting the extent of fracture propagation in rock, which is more difficult to determine in a classic finite element approach. We demonstrate that CZM delivers results for the challenging fracture propagation problem of similar accuracy to the eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM) while reducing complexity and computational effort. Simulation results for thermal fracturing in the near-wellbore zone show the effect of stress anisotropy in fracture propagation in the direction of the maximum horizontal stress. It is shown that CZM can be used to readily obtain the extent and the pattern of induced thermal fractures.
Structural studies related to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) infection process are so limited. In this study, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation was carried out to unravel changes in the MERS CoV heptad repeat domains (HRs) and factors affecting fusion state HR stability. Results indicated that HR trimer is more rapidly stabilized, having stable system energy and lowest root mean square deviations (RMSDs). While trimers were the predominant active form of CoVs HR, monomers were also discovered in both of viral and cellular membranes. In order to find the differences between S2 monomer and trimer molecular dynamics, S2 monomer were modelled and subjected to MD simulation. In contrast to S2 trimer, S2 monomer was unstable, having high RMSDs with major drifts above 8 Å. Fluctuation of HR residue positions revealed major changes in the C-terminal of HR2 and the linker coil between HR1 and HR2 in both monomer and trimer. Hydrophobic residues at the “a” and “d” positions of HR helices stabilize the whole system, having minimal changes in RMSD. The global distance test and contact area difference scores support instability of MERS CoV S2 monomer. Analysis of HR1-HR2 inter-residue contacts and interaction energy revealed three different energy scales along HR helices. Two strong interaction energies were identified at the start of the HR2 helix and at the C-terminal of HR2. The identified critical residues by MD simulation and residues at a and d position of HR helix were strong stabilizers of HRs recognition.
Human brain accounts for about one hundred billion neurons, but they cannot work properly without ultrastructural and metabolic support. For this reason, mammalian brains host another type of cells called “glial cells”, whose role is to maintain proper conditions for efficient neuronal function. One type of glial cell, astrocytes, are involved in particular in the metabolic support of neurons, by feeding them with lactate, one byproduct of glucose metabolism that they can take up from blood vessels, and store it under another form, glycogen granules. These energy-storage molecules, whose morphology resembles to spheres with a diameter ranging 10–80 nanometers roughly, can be easily recognized using electron microscopy, the only technique whose resolution is high enough to resolve them. Understanding and quantifying their distribution is of particular relevance for neuroscientists, in order to understand where and when neurons use energy under this form. To answer this question, we developed a visualization technique, dubbed GLAM (Glycogen-derived Lactate Absorption Map), and customized for the analysis of the interaction of astrocytic glycogen on surrounding neurites in order to formulate hypotheses on the energy absorption mechanisms. The method integrates high-resolution surface reconstruction of neurites, astrocytes, and the energy sources in form of glycogen granules from different automated serial electron microscopy methods, like focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) or serial block face electron microscopy (SBEM), together with an absorption map computed as a radiance transfer mechanism. The resulting visual representation provides an immediate and comprehensible illustration of the areas in which the probability of lactate shuttling is higher. The computed dataset can be then explored and quantified in a 3D space, either using 3D modeling software or virtual reality environments. Domain scientists have evaluated the technique by either using the computed maps for formulating functional hypotheses or for planning sparse reconstructions to avoid excessive occlusion. Furthermore, we conducted a pioneering user study showing that immersive VR setups can ease the investigation of the areas of interest and the analysis of the absorption patterns in the cellular structures.
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