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    Wenqing Liu, Chengzhi Xing
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 73.

    ● A system of environmental optical monitoring technology has been established.

    ● New optical monitoring techniques and stereoscopic system should be established.

    ● The focus on interdisciplinarity should be increased.

    ● Pay more attention on greenhouse gases monitoring and atmospheric chemistry.

    The achievement of the targets of coordinated control of PM2.5 and O3 and the carbon peaking and carbon neutrality depend on the development of pollution and greenhouse gas monitoring technologies. Optical monitoring technology, based on its technical characteristics of high scalability, high sensitivity and wide-targets detection, has obvious advantages in pollution/greenhouse gases monitoring and has become an important direction in the development of environmental monitoring technology. At present, a system of environmental optical monitoring technology with differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS), cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS), light detection and ranging (LIDAR), laser heterodyne spectroscopy (LHS), tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS), fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and fluorescence assay by gas expansion (FAGE) as the main body has been established. However, with the promotion of “reduction of pollution and carbon emissions” strategy, there have been significant changes in the sources of pollution/greenhouse gases, emission components and emission concentrations, which have put forward new and higher requirements for the development of monitoring technologies. In the future, we should pay more attention to the development of new optical monitoring techniques and the construction of stereoscopic monitoring system, the interdisciplinarity (among mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, etc.), and the monitoring of greenhouse gases and research on atmospheric chemistry.

    Jiuhui Qu, Jiaping Chen
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 67.

    ● Zero pollution does not mean no discharge of pollutants.

    ● Control of sound balance between pollution and decontamination capacities is important.

    ● Key pathways to achieve balance between pollution and decontamination capacities are given.

    The mission of “Establishment of Zero-Pollution Earth” defined by United Nations Environment Programme aims at creation of a clean, safe and prosperous home for all human beings. It is of rational choice from each individual to protect our environment and demonstrates our great ambition to achieve our goals. The key message given in this article is that, zero pollution does not mean no discharge of pollutants and instead it can be achievable through optimizing and controlling a sound balance between pollutants discharge and capacities of decontamination through treatment and natural environmental accumulation, which can be termed as “Principle of Equilibrium” between pollution and decontamination. Based on this principle, we propose and illustrate several key factors and synergistic pathways toward a pollution-free planet: quantitative determination on purification and wastewater; source control through green measures; minimization of negative side-effects; precise management through digitalized systems; and keeping sound balance between pollutants and natural purification. It should be noted that we would face a series of difficulties and challenges in moving forward to “Zero-Pollution Earth”. We should further develop theories, principles and tools to achieve the balance between quantity of pollutants and decontamination capacities. Environmentalists should work together to break through the bottleneck limited by “Principle of equilibrium” to establish new environmental remediation systems leading to “Zero-Pollution Earth”.

    Bin Zhao, Shuxiao Wang, Jiming Hao
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 68.

    ● Major challenges of air pollution control in China are summarized.

    ● A“health-oriented” air pollution control strategy is proposed.

    ● Directions of air quality standard amendments are discussed.

    ● “One-atmosphere” concept shall be adopted to synergistically address multiple issues.

    Air pollution is one of the most challenging environmental issues in the world. China has achieved remarkable success in improving air quality in last decade as a result of aggressive air pollution control policies. However, the average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration in China is still about six times of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQG) and causing significant human health risks. Extreme emission reductions of multiple air pollutants are required for China to achieve the AQG. Here we identify the major challenges in future air quality improvement and propose corresponding control strategies. The main challenges include the persistently high health risk attributed to PM2.5 pollution, the excessively loose air quality standards, and coordinated control of air pollution, greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions and emerging pollutants. To further improve air quality and protect human health, a health-oriented air pollution control strategy shall be implemented by tightening the air quality standards as well as optimizing emission reduction pathways based on the health risks of various sources. In the meantime, an “one-atmosphere” concept shall be adopted to strengthen the synergistic control of air pollutants and GHGs and the control of non-combustion sources and emerging pollutants shall be enhanced.

    Zheng-Yang Huo, Xiaoxiong Wang, Xia Huang, Menachem Elimelech
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 69.

    ● Modifying local environment can intensify the performance of flow-through electrodes.

    ● Reaction rate and selectivity can be improved by local environment modification.

    ● Modifications include spatial confinement, enhanced local field, and periodic vortex.

    ● Near-complete removal of low-concentration emerging contaminants can be realized.

    ● Electrified flow-through systems are promising for fit-for-purpose water treatment.

    Removing high-risk and persistent contaminants from water is challenging, because they typically exist at low concentrations in complex water matrices. Electrified flow-through technologies are viable to overcome the limitations induced by mass transport for efficient contaminant removal. Modifying the local environment of the flow-through electrodes offers opportunities to further improve the reaction kinetics and selectivity for achieving near-complete removal of these contaminants from water. Here, we present state-of-the-art local environment modification approaches that can be incorporated into electrified flow-through technologies to intensify water treatment. We first show methods of nanospace incorporation, local geometry adjustment, and microporous structure optimization that can induce spatial confinement, enhanced local electric field, and microperiodic vortex, respectively, for local environment modification. We then discuss why local environment modification can complement the flow-through electrodes for improving the reaction rate and selectivity. Finally, we outline appropriate scenarios of intensifying electrified flow-through technologies through local environment modification for fit-for-purpose water treatment applications.

    Alexander Johs, Shuo Qian, Leighton Coates, Brian H. Davison, James G. Elkins, Xin Gu, Jennifer Morrell-Falvey, Hugh O’Neill, Jeffrey M. Warren, Eric M. Pierce, Kenneth Herwig
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(7): 92.

    ● Neutrons reveal the structure and dynamics of materials nondestructively.

    ● Neutron methods probe complex systems across a wide range of length and time scales.

    ● Advances in instruments and source enable smaller samples and time-resolved studies.

    ● Multi-modal techniques and deuteration capabilities enable new science.

    ● Processes in soil, water, plants, microbes from enzymes to organisms.

    The use of neutron methods in environmental and biological sciences is rapidly emerging and accelerating with the development of new instruments at neutron user facilities. This article, based on a workshop held at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), offers insights into the application of neutron techniques in environmental and biological sciences. We highlight recent advances and identify key challenges and potential future research areas. These include soil and rhizosphere processes, root water dynamics, plant-microbe interactions, structure and dynamics of biological systems, applications in synthetic biology and enzyme engineering, next-generation bioproducts, biomaterials and bioenergy, nanoscale structure, and fluid dynamics of porous materials in geochemistry. We provide an outlook on emerging opportunities with an emphasis on new capabilities that will be enabled at the Spallation Neutron Source Second Target Station currently under design at ORNL. The mission of scientific neutron user facilities worldwide is to enable science using state-of-the-art neutron capabilities. We aim to encourage researchers in the environmental and biological research community to explore the unique capability afforded by neutrons at these facilities.

    Jiuhui Qu, Jiming Hao, Yi Qian
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 66.
    Bingxin Guo, Yiwei Zhang, Junxing Yang, Tianwei Qian, Junmei Guo, Xiaona Liu, Yuan Jiao, Tongbin Chen, Guodi Zheng, Wenjun Li, Fei Qi
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(7): 87.

    ● WSC improves physicochemical properties of soil for plant growth.

    ● Water-soluble and acid-extractable Pb in soil increase with WSC dose.

    ● Amino and hydroxyl groups in WSC play important roles in mobilizing Pb in soil.

    ● WSC improves phytoremediation capacity of Pb-contaminated soil by H. spectabile .

    Water-soluble chitosan (WSC) has been studied for its ability to mobilize soil Pb and promote the phytoremediation by Hylotelephium spectabile in Pb-contaminated fields. We aimed to clarify the internal mechanism by which WSC impacts phytoremediation by examining plant growth and Pb accumulation performance of H. spectabile as well as the Pb form, functional groups, and mineral phases of Pb-contaminated soil. WSC effectively decreased soil pH and activated Pb migration in rhizosphere soils, with a considerable increase in water-soluble and acid-extractable Pb by 29%–102% and 9%–65%, respectively, and a clear decreasing trend in reducible and oxidizable Pb. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy revealed a significant increase in amino and hydroxyl groups in the soil generated by WSC. The coordination of Pb with amino and hydroxyl groups may play an important role in the formation of Pb complexes and activation of Pb in soil. In field trials, the application of WSC significantly increased Pb accumulation in H. spectabile by 125.44%, reaching 92 g/hm2. Moreover, the organic matter and nitrogen in the soils were increased by WSC, which improved the growth conditions of H. spectabile. No obvious growth inhibition was observed in either the pot or field trials. Therefore, WSC is a promising chelating agent for mobilizing Pb in soil. Additionally, WSC can be potentially used to boost H. spectabil-mediated phytoremediation of Pb-contaminated farmland.

    Changbo Qin, Qiang Xue, Jiawei Zhang, Lu Lu, Shangao Xiong, Yang Xiao, Xiaojing Zhang, Jinnan Wang
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 71.

    ● The Beautiful China Initiative (BCI) provides Chinese wisdom for the sustainable development and welfare of all humanity.

    ● The progress of the BCI is summarized.

    ● Challenges and opportunities faced in implementing the BCI are analyzed.

    ● Policy suggestions for comprehensively advancing the BCI are proposed.

    The Beautiful China Initiative (BCI) is a vivid embodiment of the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature during modernization. Implementing the BCI is an effective method for achieving the goals of building a beautiful China, while offering a “Chinese solution” to global sustainable development. This article summarizes the progress and main experiences of the BCI, as well as analyzing the primary challenges facing its future development. Finally, five policy recommendations are proposed, which emphasize the importance of top-level design, coordinated planning, and a robust support system in the implementation of the BCI.

    Shihan Zhang, Yao Shen, Chenghang Zheng, Qianqian Xu, Yifang Sun, Min Huang, Lu Li, Xiongwei Yang, Hao Zhou, Heliang Ma, Zhendong Li, Yuanhang Zhang, Wenqing Liu, Xiang Gao
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 75.

    �?Recent advances in promising CCUS technologies are assessed.

    �?Research status and trends in CCUS are visually analyzed.

    �?Carbon capture remains a hotspot of CCUS research.

    �?State-of-the-art capture technologies is summarized.

    �?Perspective research of carbon capture is proposed

    Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies play an essential role in achieving Net Zero Emissions targets. Considering the lack of timely reviews on the recent advancements in promising CCUS technologies, it is crucial to provide a prompt review of the CCUS advances to understand the current research gaps pertained to its industrial application. To that end, this review first summarized the developmental history of CCUS technologies and the current large-scale demonstrations. Then, based on a visually bibliometric analysis, the carbon capture remains a hotspot in the CCUS development. Noting that the materials applied in the carbon capture process determines its performance. As a result, the state-of-the-art carbon capture materials and emerging capture technologies were comprehensively summarized and discussed. Gaps between state-of-art carbon capture process and its ideal counterpart are analyzed, and insights into the research needs such as material design, process optimization, environmental impact, and technical and economic assessments are provided.

    Wei Mao, Xuewu Shen, Lixun Zhang, Yang Liu, Zehao Liu, Yuntao Guan
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(7): 86.

    ● Recent progress of bismuth tungstate (Bi2WO6) as photocatalyst was summarized.

    ● The review reported the fabrication and modification of Bi2WO6-based materials.

    ● Bi2WO6-based photocatalysts have been widely used in multiple areas.

    ● Future perspectives on the use of Bi2WO6-based photocatalysts were discussed.

    Photocatalysis has emerged a promising strategy to remedy the current energy and environmental crisis due to its ability to directly convert clean solar energy into chemical energy. Bismuth tungstate (Bi2WO6) has been shown to be an excellent visible light response, a well-defined perovskite crystal structure, and an abundance of oxygen atoms (providing efficient channels for photogenerated carrier transfer) due to their suitable band gap, effective electron migration and separation, making them ideal photocatalysts. It has been extensively applied as photocatalyst in aspects including pollutant removal, carbon dioxide reduction, solar hydrogen production, ammonia synthesis by nitrogen photocatalytic reduction, and cancer therapy. In this review, the fabrication and application of Bi2WO6 in photocatalysis were comprehensively discussed. The photocatalytic properties of Bi2WO6-based materials were significantly enhanced by carbon modification, the construction of heterojunctions, and the atom doping to improve the photogenerated carrier migration rate, the number of surface active sites, and the photoexcitation ability of the composites. In addition, the potential development directions and the existing challenges to improve the photocatalytic performance of Bi2WO6-based materials were discussed.

    Bruce Logan, Fang Zhang, Wulin Yang, Le Shi
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 70.

    ● Express energy use and carbon emissions in understandable numbers.

    ● Normalize energy use to daily food energy using “D”.

    ● Ratio carbon emissions to those from daily food using “C”.

    ● Based on the entire country China emitted 22.5 C and the US emitted 43.9 C (2022).

    ● Personal choices such as the car you drive, food you eat, and home heating lower C.

    There is a global need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the extent of climate change. A better understanding of how our own activities and lifestyle influence our energy use and carbon emissions can help us enable changes in activities that can lead to reductions in carbon emissions. Here we discuss an approach based on examining carbon emissions from the perspective of the unit C, where 1 C is the CO2 from food a person would on average eat every day. This approach shows that total CO2 emissions in China, normalized by the population, is 22.5 C while carbon emissions for a person in the US is 43.9 C. A better appreciation of our own energy use can be obtained by calculating carbon emissions from our own activities in units of C, for example for driving a car gasoline or electric vehicle a certain number of kilometers, using electricity for our homes, and eating different foods. With this information, we can see how our carbon emissions compare to national averages in different countries and make decisions that could lower our personal CO2 emissions.

    Qian He, Junkai Gao, Zhongzhi Chen, Yuanjing Ding, Mengsheng Xia, Pengtao Xu, Yan Chen
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(7): 84.

    ● Wood powder reconstitution strategy was developed to prepare hydrogel membrane.

    ● The membrane has the merits of adjustable pore size and superhydrophilicity.

    ● The reconstitution strategy is environmentally friendly and easy to operate.

    ● The membrane can purify complex wastewater and has excellent anti-fouling property.

    ● This study opened up a new strategy for the recycling of waste wood powder.

    To avoid resource wastage and secondary environmental pollution, recycling and reusing waste wood powder is still a great challenge. Moreover, the poor viscosity and irregular pore size of wood powder limit its practical application. This study employed a green and convenient wood powder reconstitution strategy to achieve highly adhesive bonding and pore size control between wood powder particles, thus preparing a high-strength and super hydrophilic wood powder membrane. The wood powder fibers were partially dissolved and regenerated to create a reconstituted wood powder hydrogel membrane, using waste wood powder as the raw material. The wood powder reconstitution strategy offers advantages such as environmental friendliness, simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and strong universality. Furthermore, the materials exhibit excellent self-cleaning properties and superhydrophilicity. Driven by gravity, the membrane can purify oily wastewater and dyes. Additionally, the reconstitution strategy offers a new pathway for recycling wood powder.

    Jianguo Liu, Ziyu Zhou, Pengyu Li, Zixuan Wang, Ying Yan, Xuezheng Yu, Wenkai Li, Tianlong Zheng, Yingnan Cao, Wenjun Wu, Wenqian Cai, Zhining Shi, Junxin Liu
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(7): 83.

    ● First to apply spatial autocorrelation analysis to rural domestic sewage discharge.

    ● In peri-urban areas, rural sewage discharge tends to exhibit high-high clustering.

    ● Social development is the most influential factor of rural sewage discharge level.

    ● Urbanization rate, education, and population age structure are influencing factors.

    ● The county level rural domestic sewage data set has been scientifically established.

    The traits of rural domestic sewage emission are unclear, negatively affecting rural domestic sewage treatment and sewage management. This study used data from the Second National Pollution Source Census Bulletin to establish a data set. The spatial distribution characteristics and main factors influencing rural sewage discharge in the Northern Region were studied using spatial autocorrelation analysis and structural equations. The findings demonstrated that (1) a significant Spearman correlation between drainage water volume (DWV), chemical oxygen demand (COD), ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorus (TP) and that the correlation coefficients between DWV and COD, NH3–N, TN and TP were 0.87**, 1.0**, 0.99**, 0.99**, respectively; (2) rural sewage discharge showed spatial autocorrelation, and rural domestic sewage discharge in the districts and counties with an administration was significantly higher than in the surrounding areas; and (3) social development was the main driver rural domestic sewage changes (path coefficient was 0.407**), and the main factors influencing rural domestic sewage discharge were the urbanization rate, years of education, and population age structure. This study obtained the spatial variation law and clarified the main influencing factors of rural domestic sewage to provide data support and a theoretical basis for subsequent rural sewage collection and treatment. Use of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China as a typical case, provides a theoretical foundation for scientific decision-making on rural domestic sewage treatment at the national and regional levels and offers new perspectives for managing pollutants.

    Sanggwon An, Sangsoo Choi, Hyeong Rae Kim, Jungho Hwang
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(7): 85.

    ● Electrostatic virus sampler was designed and evaluated in a pandemic scenario and real indoor field environment.

    ● Airborne virus was gently sampled with high aerosol sampling performance.

    ● Viral samples detectable for PCR were produced within 40 min.

    The World Health Organization has raised concerns about the possibility of airborne transmission in enclosed and poorly ventilated areas. Therefore, rapid monitoring of airborne viruses is necessary in multi-use facilities with dense population. Accordingly, an electrostatic air sampler (250 L/min) was developed in this work to obtain indoor viral aerosol samples for analysis via the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Aerosol tests with H1N1 and HCoV-229E were performed to evaluate the sample collection efficiency. PCR analysis, along with another aerosol test, was conducted to evaluate the recovery of the virus particles collected by the sampler. In laboratory tests, our electrostatic sampler obtained viral samples that were detectable by PCR under the simulated viral pandemic scenario (3000 RNA copies per cubic meter of air) within 40 min. The resulting cycle threshold (Ct) values were 35.07 and 37.1 for H1N1 and HCoV-229E, respectively. After the performance evaluation in the laboratory, field tests were conducted in a university classroom from October 28 to December 2, 2022. Influenza A and HCoV-229E were detected in two air samples, and the corresponding Ct values were 35.3 and 36.8. These PCR results are similar to those obtained from laboratory tests, considering the simulated viral pandemic scenario.

    Chiheng Chu, Lizhong Zhu
    Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 2024, 18(6): 74.

    ● The safety and health of soil face global threats from widespread contamination.

    ● Tackling soil pollutions require holistic soil remediation and management.

    ● Big data can revolutionize contaminated soil management and remediation.

    Soil is a non-renewable resource, providing a majority of the world’s food and fiber while serving as a vital carbon reservoir. However, the health of soil faces global threats from human activities, particularly widespread contamination by industrial chemicals. Existing physical, chemical, and biological remediation approaches encounter challenges in preserving soil structure and function throughout the remediation process, as well as addressing the complexities of soil contamination on a regional scale. Viable solutions encompass monitoring and simulating soil processes, with a focus on utilizing big data to bridge micro-scale and macro-scale processes. Additionally, reducing pollutant emissions to soil is paramount due to the significant challenges associated with removing contaminants once they have entered the soil, coupled with the high economic costs of remediation. Further, it is imperative to implement advanced remediation technologies, such as monitored natural attenuation, and embrace holistic soil management approaches that involve regulatory frameworks, soil health indicators, and soil safety monitoring platforms. Safeguarding the enduring health and resilience of soils necessitates a blend of interdisciplinary research, technological innovation, and collaborative initiatives.