Earth Day 2017

Earth Day is an event that is celebrated worldwide every year on April 22. A variety of events is held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Initiated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 190 countries are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Elsevier is celebrating this event together with scientists across hundreds of institutes. In order to mark this special day and the importance of a healthy and well-functioning world to humankind, our publishers and editors selected more than 30 articles recently published in our journals that we find important. This special initiative was conducted across departments, and journals from the disciplines Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences and Earth & Energy are contributing to this Virtual Special Issue. The scientific community is working on solutions to the most pressing problems the Earth is facing today. We want to share the results of their research with a wide audience and are therefore providing the below articles freely for a limited period of time, celebrating Earth Day 2017.


James D. Widmer, Richard Martin, Mohammed Kimiabeigi, Electric vehicle traction motors without rare earth magnets, Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volume 3, April 2015, Pages 7-13.

Saniya LeBlanc, Thermoelectric generators: Linking material properties and systems engineering for waste heat recovery applications, Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volumes 1–2, December 2014, Pages 26-35.

Saniya LeBlanc is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at The George Washington University.  The LeBlanc Lab develops and improves energy conversion technologies with advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. Prior to joining GWU, Dr. LeBlanc was a research scientist at Alphabet Energy, a startup company, where she created research, development, and manufacturing characterization solutions for thermoelectric technologies and evaluated the potential of new power generation materials. Dr. LeBlanc obtained a PhD in mechanical engineering with a specialization in materials science at Stanford University. She has an MPhil in engineering from University of Cambridge and a BS from Georgia Institute of Technology.
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Linda Gaines, The future of automotive lithium-ion battery recycling: Charting a sustainable course, Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volumes 1–2, December 2014, Pages 2-7.

Linda Gaines is a Transportation Systems Analyst at Argonne National Laboratory. She holds a BA in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard, and a PhD in Physics from Columbia. Her primary interest is efficient use of resources.
She began her career by writing a series of handbooks of energy and material flows in energy-intensive industries. These provided background for studies of the costs and impacts of production, use, and recycling of advanced-design automobiles, trucks, and trains, and batteries.
Her recent work involves recycling of lithium-ion batteries and also reducing vehicle idling. She is an Editor of Sustainable Materials and Technologies.
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Bai Sun, Xin Zhang, Guangdong Zhou, Pingyuan Li, Yong Zhang, Hongyan Wang, Yudong Xia, Yong Zhao, An organic nonvolatile resistive switching memory device fabricated with natural pectin from fruit peel, Organic Electronics, Volume 42, March 2017, Pages 181-186.

Paulina Półrolniczak, Piotr Nowicki, Krzysztof Wasiński, Robert Pietrzak, Mariusz Walkowiak, Biomass-derived hierarchical carbon as sulfur cathode stabilizing agent for lithium-sulfur batteries, Solid State Ionics, Volume 297, 1 December 2016, Pages 59-63.

Gui-Zhi Wang, Jian-Min Feng, Lei Dong, Xi-Fei Li, De-Jun Li, SnO2 particles anchored on N-doped graphene surface as sodium-ion battery anode with enhanced electrochemical capability, Applied Surface Science, Volume 396, 28 February 2017, Pages 269-277.

Xiaodan Li, Gaoxiang Wu, Jiewei Chen, Meicheng Li, Wei Li, Tianyue Wang, Bing Jiang, Yue He, Liqiang Mai, Low-crystallinity molybdenum sulfide nanosheets assembled on carbon nanotubes for long-life lithium storage: Unusual electrochemical behaviors and ascending capacities, Applied Surface Science, Volume 392, 15 January 2017, Pages 297-304.

Deepshikha Hazarika, Niranjan Karak, Photocatalytic degradation of organic contaminants under solar light using carbon dot/titanium dioxide nanohybrid, obtained through a facile approach, Applied Surface Science, Volume 376, 15 July 2016, Pages 276-285.

Niranjan Karak (h-index = 33, i10-index=101), is a Professor of Polymer Science and Nanomaterials of Chemical Sciences Department (former HoD) and present Head, Sophisticated and Analytical Instrument Center (SAIC) of Tezpur University. Prof. Karak has published 196 research papers including review articles and authored four books (plus co-edited one more book), as well as written seven chapters in different edited books including two encyclopedias. Sixteen Ph.D. degrees are awarded along with two post-doctoral fellows under his supervision (five more scholars are pursuing). His fields of research interest are mainly based on bio-based high performance hyperbranched polymers, nanomaterials and their nanocomposites as sustainable materials. Prof. Karak has credited eight national awards from different learned academic societies including The president of India and Ministry of Fertilizer and Chemicals, Government of India for his outstanding contribution in the field.
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Nikhil Kumar, Lata Sheo Bachan Upadhyay, Facile and green synthesis of highly stable l-cysteine functionalized copper nanoparticles, Applied Surface Science, Volume 385, 1 November 2016, Pages 225-233.

Jingxiang Low, Bei Cheng, Jiaguo Yu, Surface modification and enhanced photocatalytic CO2 reduction performance of TiO2: a review, Applied Surface Science, Volume 392, 15 January 2017, Pages 658-686.

Jiaguo Yu received his BS and MS in chemistry from Central China Normal University and Xi’an Jiaotong University, respectively; his PhD in Materials Science from Wuhan University of Technology (WUT). In 2000, he became a Professor at WUT. His research interests include semiconductor photocatalysis, photocatalytic hydrogen production, CO2 reduction, dye-sensitized solar cells, indoor air purification and adsorption. He is Thomson Reuters "Hottest Researcher" of 2012. His name is also in the list of2015 and 2016 Highly Cited Researchers from Thomson Reuters in Materials Science, Chemistry and Engineering. He becomes Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2015.
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Hamid Reza Naderi, Parviz Norouzi, Mohammad Reza Ganjali, Electrochemical study of a novel high performance supercapacitor based on MnO2/nitrogen-doped graphene nanocomposite, Applied Surface Science, Volume 366, 15 March 2016, Pages 552-560.

Maria Wasim, Aneela Sabir, Muhammad Shafiq, Atif Islam, Tahir Jamil, Preparation and characterization of composite membrane via layer by layer assembly for desalination, Applied Surface Science, Volume 396, 28 February 2017, Pages 259-268.

Maria Wasim is a post graduate student of Polymer Engineering and Technology department in University of the Punjab, Pakistan. Her areas of interest are Synthesis of hydroxyapatite - natural substitute of bone mineral by green chemistry; Polymer Synthesis, Rheology, Processing and Characterization, Green Composites, Nanofibers formation from natural polymers via Electrospinning, Membrane Technology using Reverse Osmosis, Nano filtration, Pervaporation and Ultrafiltration and other separation process; Synthesis of graphene oxide and its modification.
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Materials Science

Introduction by Nemkumar Banthia

Bao Jian Zhan, Dong Xing Xuan, Chi Sun Poon, Cai Jun Shi, Effect of curing parameters on CO2 curing of concrete blocks containing recycled aggregates, Cement and Concrete Composites,Volume68, April 2016, pages 27-34.

D.X. Xuan, A.A.A. Molenaar, L.J.M. Houben, Deformation behavior of cement treated demolition waste with recycled masonry and concrete subjected to drying and temperature change, Cement and Concrete Composites, Volume 71, April 2016, Pages 122-130.

Chaosheng Zhu, Yuanyuan Zhao, Liyang Fang, Jingtang Zheng, Ping Hu, Yukun Liu, Xiaoqing Cao, Zhenzhen Chen, Wenting Wu, Mingbo Wu, N-doped carbon quantum dots/Ag3PO4 hybrid materials with improved visible light photocatalytic activity and stability, Materials Letters, Volume 188, 1 February 2017, Pages 304-307.

Sung-Woo Park, Jae-Chan Kim, Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, Hyun-Woo Shim, Dong-Wan Kim, Enhanced cycle stability of silicon coated with waste poly(vinyl butyral)-directed carbon for lithium-ion battery anodes, Journal of Alloys and Compounds, Volume 698, 25 March 2017, Pages 525-531.

Wei-Li Song, Xiaogang Li, Li-Zhen Fan, Biomass derivative/graphene aerogels for binder-free supercapacitors, Energy Storage Materials, Volume 3, April 2016, Pages 113-122.

Jing Liu, Yingchao Dong, Xinfa Dong, Stuart Hampshire, Li Zhu, Zhiwen Zhu, Lingling Li, Feasible recycling of industrial waste coal fly ash for preparation of anorthite-cordierite based porous ceramic membrane supports with addition of dolomite, Journal of the European Ceramic Society, Volume 36, Issue 4, March 2016, Pages 1059-1071.

Sajjad Shamaila, Ahmed Khan Leghari Sajjad, Najam-ul-Athar Ryma, Sidra Anis Farooqi, Nyla Jabeen, Sania Majeed, Iqra Farooq, Advancements in nanoparticle fabrication by hazard free eco-friendly green routes, Applied Materials Today, Volume 5, December 2016, Pages 150-199.

Dr. Shamaila Sajjad is working as chairperson faculty of basics and applied sciences in IIU Islamabad Pakistan. Dr. Sajjad completed her Ph.D from East China University of Science and Technology Shanghai and is one of the most productive scientists of Pakistan. She was awarded with the Gold medal in Emerging technologies including nanotechnology, molecular biology and Bioinformatics in 2015 and successfully completed many applied projects based on fabrication of nanocomposites.

Pelagia I. Gouma, Sanford R. Simon, Milutin Stanacevic, Nano-sensing and catalysis technologies for managing food-water-energy (FEW) resources in farming, Materials Today Chemistry, Volumes 1–2, October–December 2016, Pages 40-45.


Bryony Ashford, Xin Tu, Non-thermal plasma technology for the conversion of CO2, Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, Volume 3, February 2017, Pages 45-49.

Dr. Xin Tu is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics at the University of Liverpool. He has been working for many years on interdisciplinary research at the interface of plasma science and catalysis for environmental clean-up and the synthesis of fuels and chemicals. He has published over 70 papers in leading international journals and given over 20 invited talks at leading international conferences. Dr. Tu has received a prestigious B. Eliasson Award from International Symposium on Plasmas for Catalysts and Energy Materials to recognize his novel contributions to plasma-catalysis with emphasis on the fundamental understanding of plasma-catalysis.
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Joe Glasing, Pascale Champagne, Michael F. Cunningham, Graft modification of chitosan, cellulose and alginate using reversible deactivation radical polymerization (RDRP), Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, Volume 2, October 2016, Pages 15-21.

Dr. Michael Cunningham is a Professor in Chemical Engineering with a cross appointment to the Department of Chemistry. He holds an Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering, and has extensive experience with functionalizing polymer colloids and particles, and grafting polymers to various surfaces. Dr. Pascale Champagne is a Professor in Civil Engineering with a cross appointment to Chemical Engineering. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Bioresource Engineering. Her research program focuses on novel methodologies for the extraction, recovery and production of bioenergy and bioproducts, and the development of environmentally sustainable water and wastewater treatment approaches. Mr. Joe Glasing is a PhD student under the supervision of Drs. Champagne and Cunningham.
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F. Urbain, V. Smirnov, J.-P. Becker, U. Rau, J. Ziegler, F. Yang, B. Kaiser, W. Jaegermann, S. Hoch, M. Blug, F. Finger, Solar water splitting with earth-abundant materials using amorphous silicon photocathodes and Al/Ni contacts as hydrogen evolution catalyst, Chemical Physics Letters, Volume 638, 1 October 2015.

Dr. Félix Urbain studied Materials Science and Engineering at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany, where he received his his M.Sc. in 2012. He pursued his Ph.D. at the Institute of Photovoltaics (IEK-5) in the Jülich Research Centre in Germany and was awarded with the degree Dr.-Ing. summa cum laude in 2016. His doctoral research focused on the development of thin film silicon multijunction solar cells for the application as photoelectrodes in photoelectrochemical cells for hydrogen production via water splitting. He and his group still have the world record in solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 9.5% for thin film silicon based systems. Currently, Dr. Urbain works as a Postdoc at the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research in Spain, where he focuses on systems enabling photoelectrochemical CO2 reycling.
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Environmental Science

Yilong Han, John E. Taylor, Anna Laura Pisello, Toward mitigating urban heat island effects: Investigating the thermal-energy impact of bio-inspired retro-reflective building envelopes in dense urban settings, Energy and Buildings, Volume 102, 1 September 2015, Pages 380-389.

Yilong Han is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on achieving sustained energy conservation in buildings by examining inter-building effects and through human-building integrations. He also draws inspirations from nature to develop sustainable and smart solutions in the built environment. Yilong recently earned his PhD degree in Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. He also held a BS degree in Civil Engineering at Tongji University in China, an MS degree in Structural Engineering at the University of Missouri, and a second MS in Construction Engineering and Management at Virginia Tech.
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Asis Patnaik, Mlando Mvubu, Sudhakar Muniyasamy, Anton Botha, Rajesh D. Anandjiwala, Thermal and sound insulation materials from waste wool and recycled polyester fibers and their biodegradation studies, Energy and Buildings, Volume 92, 1 April 2015, Pages 161-169.

Dr. Asis Patnaik awarded PhD in the field of Textile Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India in the year 2006. Presently, he is working as a Senior Lecturer in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Department of Clothing and Textile Technology, Bellville Campus, situated at Cape Town, South Africa. He has more than 14 years’ experience the development of textiles and technical textile based materials suitable for the manufacturing, automotive, medical building and footwear industries.
With 62 publications to his credit (which include 3 books, 35 peer-reviewed journal papers, 7 book chapters and 17 papers in various international conferences), he serves as the editorial advisory member of two journals and also serves as a peer reviewer for 19 international journals in multi-disciplinary fields of textiles and materials science. He was awarded the Textile Institutes Outstanding Young Scientist Paper Award in 2008 and Outstanding Contribution by an Individual award by the CSIR, South Africa in 2013. He is a NRF (National Research Foundation) rated established researcher in South Africa. He has secured several funding for various R&D projects.

Jan Svojitka, Lukáš Dvořák, Martin Studer, Jürg Oliver Straub, Heinz Frömelt, Thomas Wintgens, Performance of an anaerobic membrane bioreactor for pharmaceutical wastewater treatment, Bioresource Technology, Volume 229, April 2017, Pages 180-189.

Jan Svojitka is a researcher at the Institute for Ecopreneurship of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) in Basel. He completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, Czech Republic. Before starting his recent position in 2009, he was a guest researcher at the Chair of Chemical engineering of RWTH Aachen University in Germany. His main research interests include advanced water and wastewater processes, removal of micropollutants, water reuse, membrane technologies and anaerobic treatment of wastes and wastewaters.

Yaolan Niu, Kan Li, Diwen Ying, Yalin Wang, Jinping Jia, Novel recyclable adsorbent for the removal of copper(II) and lead(II) from aqueous solution, Bioresource Technology, Volume 229, April 2017, Pages 63-68.

Gartzen Lopez, Maite Artetxe, Maider Amutio, Javier Bilbao, Martin Olazar, Thermochemical routes for the valorization of waste polyolefinic plastics to produce fuels and chemicals. A review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 73, June 2017, Pages 346-368.

Dr. Lopez has over 12 years of experience in and is the author of 75 scientific publications in indexed journals and more than 150 conference papers.
Dr. Lopez started his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain in 2005, dealing with waste tyre pyrolysis up to 2009. After his PhD his research interest was related with the valorization of wastes by pyrolysis, gasification and pyrolysis-reforming. Moreover, it is to note his efforts in the development of spouted bed technology up to pilot plant scale.

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Guangyin Zhen, Xueqin Lu, Hiroyuki Kato, Youcai Zhao, Yu-You Li, Overview of pretreatment strategies for enhancing sewage sludge disintegration and subsequent anaerobic digestion: Current advances, full-scale application and future perspectives, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 69, March 2017, Pages 559-577.

Long D. Nghiem, Konrad Koch, David Bolzonella, Jörg E. Drewes, Full scale co-digestion of wastewater sludge and food waste: Bottlenecks and possibilities, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 72, May 2017, Pages 354-362.

Long Nghiem is a professor in environmental engineer at the University of Wollongong. His research is interdisciplinary, integrating knowledge of membrane separation, materials science, nanotechnology, microbiology, information technology, and social science to develop efficient and resilient technologies for water and wastewater treatment. Professor Nghiem’s most significant scientific contributions to date are in the removal of micropollutants for water reuse, seawater desalination, and integrated system for resource recovery. His current work focuses on the development of a technology platform for the recovery of energy and resources from wastewater and low carbon seawater desalination.
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André Brosowski, Daniela Thrän, Udo Mantau, Bernd Mahro, Georgia Erdmann, Philipp Adler, Walter Stinner, Gerd Reinhold, Thomas Hering, Christian Blanke, A review of biomass potential and current utilisation – Status quo for 93 biogenic wastes and residues in Germany, Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 95, December 2016, Pages 257-272.

André Brosowski holds a Diploma in Geography from the University of Leipzig, Germany. Since 2011 he works as a scientist at the DBFZ. Focused on the options and limitations for biomass in a sustainable bio-economy he works on the assessment of resource potentials on different regional levels. He is an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and he leads national and international consulting and research projects. In 2016 he has started his PhD that is aimed at the development of a national monitoring system for biogenic residues, wastes and by-products.

Yingqun Ma, Yao Yin, Yu Liu, A holistic approach for food waste management towards zero-solid disposal and energy/resource recovery, Bioresource Technology, Volume 228, March 2017, Pages 56-61.

Dr Yu Liu is a Professor of Environmental Engineering in School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His primary research interests are largely on biological processes and advanced environmental biotechnology for wastewater reclamation with the focuses on energy and resources recovery. His research output may be found in more than 200 journal papers and 7 technical books. In recognition of his contributions to research and public services, Professor Liu was awarded The Public Administration Medal (Bronze) 2014, The Minister for National Development R&D Merit Award 2013, and Singapore National Technology Award 2003.

Suelen Pavi, Luis Eduardo Kramer, Luciana Paulo Gomes, Luis Alcides Schiavo Miranda, Biogas production from co-digestion of organic fraction of municipal solid waste and fruit and vegetable waste, Bioresource Technology, Volume 228, March 2017, Pages 362-367.

Suelen Pavi is a Civil Engineer graduated from Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS) in Brazil, and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering, with emphasis on Waste Management and Environmental Sanitation by the Graduate Program in Civil Engineering at the same University. She participated in research projects in the area of waste recovery for energy generation, specifically in the area of biogas production from co-digestion of organic waste.
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Energy & Earth

Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N. Waters, Juliana A. Ivar do Sul, Patricia L. Corcoran, Anthony D. Barnosky, Alejandro Cearreta, Matt Edgeworth, Agnieszka Gałuszka, Catherine Jeandel, Reinhold Leinfelder, J.R. McNeill, Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, Michael Wagreich, Mark Williams, Alexander P. Wolfe, Yasmin Yonan, The geological cycle of plastics and their use as a stratigraphic indicator of the Anthropocene, Anthropocene, Volume 13, March 2016, Pages 4-17.

Jan Zalasiewicz is a Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester, UK.  He has a background as a field geologist, sedimentologist and biostratigrapher, working mostly on Quaternary (‘Ice Age’) terrains and on rocks of the Ordovician and Silurian periods, ~480-400 million years old, and the fossil plankton (graptolites) that they contain.  For the last 20 years he has lectured on a variety of geological topics at the University of Leicester.  He currently chairs the Anthropocene Working Group.  His books include The Earth After Us (2008), The Planet in a Pebble (2010), The Goldilocks Planet (2012), Ocean Worlds (2014) and A Very Short Introduction to Rocks (2016), all published by Oxford University Press.

Jing Tao, Suiran Yu, Review on feasible recycling pathways and technologies of solar photovoltaic modules, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Volume 141, October 2015, Pages 108-124.

Hancheng Dai, Xuxuan Xie, Yang Xie, Jian Liu, Toshihiko Masui, Green growth: The economic impacts of large-scale renewable energy development in China, Applied Energy, Volume 162, 15 January 2016, Pages 435-449.

Dr. Dai is an assistant professor in the college of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Peking University, China. His research focuses on developing the state-of-the-art integrated assessment models to find out how human beings could transit into a low-carbon and sustainable future at the local, national and global levels. Specifically, he develops computable general equilibrium model and technology optimization model to assess the economic impacts and key technological options to achieve carbon reduction and green transformation. More recent publications are available at google scholar.
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