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  • Potential of Octanol and Octanal from <i>Heracleum sosnowskyi</i> Fruits for the Control of <i>Fusarium oxysporum</i> f. sp. <i>lycopersici</i>

    May Khaing Hpoo; Maryia Mishyna; Valery Prokhorov; Tsutomu Arie; Akihito Takano; Yosei Oikawa; Yoshiharu Fujii (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The antifungal activity of volatile compounds from the fruit, leaf, rhizome and root of 109 plant species was evaluated against <i>Fusarium oxysporum</i> f. sp. <i>lycopersici</i> (FOL) race 1—the tomato wilt pathogen—by using the modified dish pack method. Eighty-eight plant samples inhibited mycelial growth, including volatiles from fruits of <i>Heracleum sosnowskyi</i>, which exhibited the strongest antifungal activity, showing 67% inhibition. Two volatile compounds from the fruits of <i>H. sosnowskyi</i> (octanol and octanal) and <i>trans</i>-2-hexenal as a control were tested for their antifungal activities against FOL race 1 and race 2. In terms of half-maximal effective concentration (EC<sub>50</sub>) values, octanol was found to be the most inhibitory compound for both pathogenic races, with the smallest EC<sub>50</sub> values of 8.1 and 9.3 ng/mL for race 1 and race 2, respectively. In the biofumigation experiment, the lowest disease severity of tomato plants and smallest conidial population of race 1 and race 2 were found in <i>trans</i>-2-hexenal and octanol treated soil, while octanal had an inhibitory effect only on race 2. Therefore, our study demonstrated the effectiveness of volatile octanol and <i>trans</i>-2-hexenal on the control of the mycelial growth of two races of <i>Fusarium oxysporum</i> f. sp. <i>lycopersici</i> and may have potential for the future development of novel biofumigants.
  • Evaluation of Climatic Condition Suitability for Elderly Care Industry Development in Prefecture-Level Cities in China

    Mengyuan Wang; Xiaoming Qi; Zehong Li; Maogui Hu (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The demand for elderly care in China is growing, and the elderly care industry has great development prospects. Climatic conditions are important factors that affect the health of elderly individuals and the development of the elderly care industry. This study will have important guiding significance for the layout of China’s elderly care industry. This paper utilizes ArcGIS and the spatial fuzzy comprehensive evaluation method to analyze the climatic suitability for the development of the elderly care industry in China’s four municipalities, the Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions, and 333 prefecture-level administrative regions based on six factors: temperature, humidity, airflow, air pressure, sunshine, and precipitation. In addition, development suggestions are proposed. The results show the following. (1) The areas with highly suitable climatic conditions for the development of the elderly care industry in China are concentrated in the eastern and southern areas of Southwest China and the southern areas of Central and East China, mainly in the Yangtze and Pearl River Basins. Slightly suitable areas are distributed around highly suitable areas, concentrated in the central and southern regions of China. Low-suitability areas are clustered, including an area spanning northern North China and East China, southern Northeast China, and central Northwest China, and there is another cluster in Xinjiang. The non-suitable area resembles a strip extending from Northeast China along the Inner Mongolia Plateau to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. (2) In Central and Southwest China, there are 57 prefecture-level administrative units with highly suitable temperature conditions that can develop an elderly care industry for patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Twenty-eight prefecture-level administrative regions with comprehensively suitable temperature and humidity conditions scattered throughout the country can develop an elderly care industry for elderly patients suffering from rheumatic and respiratory diseases.
  • Prediction of Cost Overrun Risk in Construction Projects

    Edyta Plebankiewicz; Damian Wieczorek (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The paper proposes a cost overrun risks prediction model, the structure of which is based on the fuzzy inference model of Mamdani. The model consists of numerous inputs and one output (MISO, multi-input-single-output), based on processes running consecutively in three blocks (the fuzzy block, the interference block, and the block of sharpening the representative output value). The input variables of the model include the share of element costs in the building costs (<i>SE</i>), predicted changes in the number of works (<i>WC</i>), and expected changes in the unit price (<i>PC</i>). The developed rule base makes it possible to determine the risk of cost overruns in the following categories: “very low”, “quite low”, “average”, “quite high”, and “very high”. Twenty-seven rules were assumed in the interference block. The operation of the model was illustrated by the example of selected elements of a road object and was validated by checking the correctness of the assumptions made at the design stage of the inference block rule base. It has been proven that with the increase of the share of element costs in the building costs (<i>SE</i>), predicted changes in the number of works (<i>WC</i>), and expected changes in the unit price (<i>PC</i>), the value of the risk exceeding the costs of a given element of the construction project (<i>R</i>) increases naturally and smoothly. It was emphasized in the conclusions that the cost overrun risks prediction model is intended for general contractors who subcontract many stages of works to their subcontractors in accordance with the agreed division into work elements.
  • Increased (Antibiotic-Resistant) Pathogen Indicator Organism Removal during (Hyper-)Thermophilic Anaerobic Digestion of Concentrated Black Water for Safe Nutrient Recovery

    Marinus J. Moerland; Alicia Borneman; Paraschos Chatzopoulos; Adrian Gonzalez Fraile; Miriam H. A. van Eekert; Grietje Zeeman; Cees J. N. Buisman (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Source separated toilet water is a valuable resource for energy and fertilizers as it has a high concentration of organics and nutrients, which can be reused in agriculture. Recovery of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) decreases the dependency on energy-intensive processes or processes that rely on depleting natural resources. In new sanitation systems, concentrated black water (BW) is obtained by source-separated collection of toilet water. BW-derived products are often associated with safety issues, amongst which pathogens and antibiotic-resistant pathogens. This study presents results showing that thermophilic (55–60 °C) and hyperthermophilic (70 °C) anaerobic treatments had higher (antibiotic-resistant) culturable pathogen indicators removal than mesophilic anaerobic treatment. Hyperthermophilic and thermophilic anaerobic treatment successfully removed <i>Escherichia coli</i> and extended-spectrum β-lactamases producing <i>E. coli</i> from source-separated vacuum collected BW at retention times of 6–11 days and reached significantly higher removal rates than mesophilic (35 °C) anaerobic treatment (<i>p</i> < 0.05). The difference between thermophilic and hyperthermophilic treatment was insignificant, which justifies operation at 55 °C rather than 70 °C. This study is the first to quantify (antibiotic-resistant) <i>E. coli</i> in concentrated BW (10–40 gCOD/L) and to show that both thermophilic and hyperthermophilic anaerobic treatment can adequately remove these pathogen indicators.
  • Modelling Variation in Petroleum Products’ Refining Footprints

    Eric Johnson; Carl Vadenbo (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions dominate the carbon footprints of most product systems, where petroleum is one of the main types of energy sources. This is consumed as a variety of refined products, most notably diesel, petrol (gasoline) and jet fuel (kerosene). Refined product carbon footprints are of great importance to regulators, policymakers and environmental decision-makers. For instance, they are at the heart of current legislation, such as the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive or the United States’ Renewable Fuels Standard. This study identified 14 datasets that report footprints for the same system, namely, petroleum refinery operations in Europe. For the main refined products, i.e., diesel, petrol and jet fuel, footprints vary by at least a factor of three. For minor products, the variation is even greater. Five different organs of the European Commission have estimated the refining footprints, where for the main products, these are relatively harmonic; for minor products, much less so. The observed variation in carbon footprints is due mainly to differing approaches to refinery modelling, especially regarding the rationale and methods applied to assign shares of the total burden from the petroleum refinery operation to the individual products. Given the economic/social importance of refined products, a better harmony regarding their footprints would be valuable to their users.
  • Total Costs of Centralized and Decentralized Inventory Strategies—Including External Costs

    Dariusz Milewski (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The paper deals with the economic efficiency of decentralized and centralized strategies of distribution goods in terms of both internal efficiency of firms and external costs of logistics processes (first of all external costs of transport). The author developed a model (using an electronic spreadsheet) in order to calculate the economical efficiency in the micro and macro dimensions in order to find the distances on which distribution using one central warehouse is more profitable than decentralized distribution. The results of the simulations show that the strategy of centralized inventories can be in many cases an economically effective strategy although not for deliveries on very long distance. The results confirm that the benefits of centralization are lower inventories, although the simulations do not confirm the applicability of the square root law to calculate the level of inventories. However, they confirm a positive impact on the level of logistic customer service, measured by the availability of stocks. Better service is probably the main benefit of this strategy. In order to investigate the impact of individual parameters on the total costs of logistics processes 1300 simulations were carried out for various cases: The volume of annual sales, fluctuations in demand, the value of distributed goods, the number of warehouses in a decentralized system and the width of the product range, costs of warehousing, and maintaining stocks, and the distance of transport and in deliveries to customers.
  • The Effects of Blockholder Dispersion on the Informativeness of Earnings: Evidence from Korea

    Jae Eun Shin; Seung-Weon Yoo; Gun Lee (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    This paper studies the relationship between blockholder dispersion and the informativeness of earnings using a sample of Korean companies. Investors prefer less volatile and more sustainable earnings and managers have incentives to manage earnings to meet investor demand. We show evidence that firms with dispersed ownership, which are likely to suffer from high levels of information asymmetry, smooth earnings in order to relieve investors’ concerns regarding information asymmetry. Furthermore, our regression analyses on the relation between returns and future earnings reveal that earnings smoothing conducted by firms with dispersed ownership leads to higher informativeness of earnings. This study provides important implications for various financial statement users in interpreting firms’ earnings sustainability, especially in the East Asian countries where a wide spectrum of ownership concentration structure exists.
  • Characterisation of <i>Chamaecytisus tagasaste</i>, <i>Moringa oleifera</i> and <i>Vachellia karroo</i> Vermicomposts and Their Potential to Improve Soil Fertility

    Mahlare Mapula Mokgophi; Alen Manyevere; Kingsley Kwabena Ayisi; Lawrence Munjonji (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Poor soil fertility and land degradation limit crop production among smallholder farmers. The practice of agroforestry with leguminous trees has proven to be sustainable as it bolsters nutrient supply through nitrogen fixation and nutrient cycling. The beneficiation of agroforestry species could add even more value by using tree based waste materials as mulch or vermicomposting. A study was conducted to investigate the impact of vermicomposting on chemical and biological characteristics of three agroforestry species; <i>Chamaecytisus tagasaste</i>, <i>Vachellia karroo</i> and <i>Moringa oleifera</i>. <i>Eisenia fetida</i> earthworms were added to the leaves and small twigs of the three trees in worm composting bins. The worms were allowed to feed on the feedstocks for six weeks under laboratory conditions. The results showed that vermicomposting significantly enhanced macronutrient nutrient content in all the three feedstocks. The findings also showed that the quality of the vermicompost depends on the feedstock type. <i>M. oleifera</i> had the best quality vermicomposts with a significantly higher composition of macronutrients which ranged between 50 and 170% higher for Ca, K, Mg and P. Vermicomposting increased Mo while other micronutrients such as Zn, Mn, Fe and B significantly decreased with vermicomposting time. In addition, vermicomposting increased <i>E. fetida</i> reproduction with more than a 450% increase in earthworm numbers in all three feedstocks. In conclusion, vermicompost have potential to be used to improve soil fertility and thus reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers in crop production.
  • Detection of Rise Damage by Leaf Folder (<i>Cnaphalocrocis medinalis</i>) Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Based Hyperspectral Data

    Tao Liu; Tiezhu Shi; Huan Zhang; Chao Wu (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Crop pests and diseases are key factors that damage crop production and threaten food security. Remote sensing techniques may provide an objective and effective alternative for automatic detection of crop pests and diseases. However, ground-based spectroscopic or imaging sensors may be limited in practically guiding the precision application and reduction of pesticide. Therefore, this study developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based remote sensing system to detect leaf folder (<i>Cnaphalocrocis medinalis</i>). Rice canopy reflectance spectra were obtained in the booting growth stage by using the UAV-based hyperspectral remote sensor. Newly developed and published multivariate spectral indices were initially calculated to estimate leaf-roll rates. The newly developed two-band spectral index (R490−R470), three-band spectral index (R400−R470)/(R400−R490), and published spectral index photochemical reflectance index (R550−R531)/(R550+R531) showed good applicability for estimating leaf-roll rates. The newly developed UAV-based micro hyperspectral system had potential in detecting rice stress induced by leaf folder. The newly developed spectral index (R490−R470) and (R400−R470)/(R400−R490) might be recommended as an indicator for estimating leaf-roll rates in the study area, and (R550−R531)/(R550+R531) might serve as a universal spectral index for monitoring leaf folder.
  • Identification of Vacant and Emerging Technologies in Smart Mobility Through the GTM-Based Patent Map Development

    Jiwon Yu; Jong-Gyu Hwang; Jumi Hwang; Sung Chan Jun; Sumin Kang; Chulung Lee; Hyundong Kim (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    With the development of the online platforms and the Internet of Things (IoT), various transportation services have been provided, and the lifestyle of the general public has changed significantly. However, the speed of development of technologies and services for the mobility handicapped has been relatively slow. Accordingly, in this paper, the smart mobility patent data for the mobility handicapped is subdivided through clustering to derive the mobility handicapped-related vacant technologies, and the prospect of the vacant technology is verified. For each cluster, a technology level map is generated in consideration of the technology growth level and the scope of authority of the vacant technology derived through the generative topographic map (GTM) patent map, and the level of the vacant technology is checked in terms of quantity and quality. Both indicators perform time series analyses on superior technology to predict technology trends and determine the technology’s promisingness. Unlike the precedent studies that focused only on quantitative analysis methods, this paper identified the usefulness of the technology through clustering and various verification processes and materialized it as a vacant technology that is applicable to actual R&D. Accordingly, through this empirical paper, it is possible to understand the current level of vacant technology in smart mobility for the mobility handicapped and establish an R&D strategy to prevent monopoly in technology in the future market and maintain competitiveness. It can also be utilized for new technology development in consideration of convergence with currently developed technology.
  • ISO Standards: A Platform for Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2

    Xiaoli Zhao; Pavel Castka; Cory Searcy (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has recently begun promoting the linkages between its standards and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, further research is needed to explore how ISO standards can serve as a platform for achieving the SDGs. In this paper, we discuss the interlinkage between ISO standards and SDG 2 (i.e., Zero hunger—End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture). We review the literature on a set of 77 ISO standards related to SDG 2 and study existing evidence pertinent to SDG 2 and its targets. Specifically, we review research in four key areas of interest: agricultural productivity of ISO certified firms, adoption of ISO standards amongst small scale producers, ISO standards development, and governance of standards. We found implicit evidence in the literature that ISO standards have the potential to contribute to two SDG 2 targets, namely targets 2.3 and 2.4. Some aspects of ISO standards, however, such as low levels of adoption amongst small scale farmers or a lack of multi-stakeholder standard development, contradict key aspects of the SDG agenda. We outline key areas for future research in the four areas of interest noted above.
  • Enhanced Plant Restoration in Open-Pit Mines Using Maize Straw and Ultrasonically Pre-Treated Coal Fly Ash

    Xiang Lu; Wei Zhou; Chongchong Qi; Meng Yang (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The rehabilitation of the post-mining landscape is one of the intractable bottlenecks faced by the mining industry. Though plant restoration has been regarded as an efficient way, its application is often restricted by the physicochemical properties of the soil, i.e., macronutrient deficiencies. In this work, a novel plant restoration method was proposed that employs maize straw and ultrasonically pre-treated coal fly ash (UCFA) for soil amelioration. Seed germination experiments were performed to investigate the effect of maize straw leachates (MSLs) on the growth of maize, alfalfa, and soybean. Then, the influence of MSLs and UCFA on the physiological attributes, chlorophyll, and trace element concentrations of maize was studied by plant growth experiments. Our results show that: (i) the MSLs concentration had a significant effect on the plant growth and the optimum concentration was 20%; (ii) considering the physiological attributes of maize plants, MSLs and UCFA benefited its growth in most cases. The UCFA proportion should be less than 20 v.% for optimum performance; (iii) the mixture of MSLs and UCFA could generally increase the chlorophyll and decrease trace element concentrations; and (iv) the optimum proportion was found to be soil:UCFA:MSLs = 70:20:10 and soil:UCFA:MSLs = 60:20:20, which achieved satisfactory performance during engineering applications.
  • Identification of the Relationship between Rainfall and the CN Parameter in Western Carpathian Mountain Catchments in Poland

    Dariusz Młyński; Andrzej Wałęga (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The aim of this study was to identify the form of the dependence describing the relationship between rainfall (<i>P</i>) and the curve number (<i>CN</i>) parameter using the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS-<i>CN</i>) method in the mountain catchments of the Western Carpathians. The study was carried out in 28 catchments areas in the Western Carpathians in the Upper Vistula Basin, Poland. The study was conducted in the following stages: determination of the volume of the direct runoff using the NRCS-<i>CN</i> method, determination of the <i>P</i>–<i>CN</i> relationship using asymptotic functions, kinetic equation and complementary error function; determination of the volume of the direct runoff from the catchment area, accounting for the correction of the decline; determination of the value of the efficiency coefficient of the analysed models. On the basis of the conducted study, a strong relationship was found between the direct runoff and the rainfall that caused it. The study showed that the empirical values of the <i>CN</i> parameter differed from the values determined on the basis of the volume of rainfall and runoff. The vast majority of study catchments were characterised by a standard <i>P</i>–<i>CN</i> relationship. The kinetic model was found to be the best model to describe the <i>P</i>–<i>CN</i> relationship. The asymptotic model showed the greatest stability for high rainfall episodes. It was shown that the application of the catchment slope correction improved the quality of the NRCS-<i>CN</i> model.
  • Application of Remote Sensing, GIS and Machine Learning with Geographically Weighted Regression in Assessing the Impact of Hard Coal Mining on the Natural Environment

    Anna Kopeć; Paweł Trybała; Dariusz Głąbicki; Anna Buczyńska; Karolina Owczarz; Natalia Bugajska; Patrycja Kozińska; Monika Chojwa; Agata Gattner (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Mining operations cause negative changes in the environment. Therefore, such areas require constant monitoring, which can benefit from remote sensing data. In this article, research was carried out on the environmental impact of underground hard coal mining in the Bogdanka mine, located in the southeastern Poland. For this purpose, spectral indexes, satellite radar interferometry, Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and machine learning algorithms were utilized. Based on optical, radar, geological, hydrological and meteorological data, a spatial model was developed to determine the statistical significance of the selected factors’ individual impact on the occurrence of wetlands. Obtained results show that Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) change, terrain height, groundwater level and terrain displacement had a considerable influence on the occurrence of wetlands in the research area. Moreover, the machine learning model developed using the Random Forest algorithm allowed for an efficient determination of potential flooding zones based on a set of spatial variables, correctly detecting 76% area of wetlands. Finally, the GWR (Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) modelling enabled identification of local anomalies of selected factors’ influence on the occurrence of wetlands, which in turn helped to understand the causes of wetland formation.
  • The Functional Traits of Breeding Bird Communities at Traditional Folk Villages in Korea

    Chan Ryul Park; Sohyeon Suk; Sumin Choi (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Interaction between nature and human has formulated unique biodiversity in temperate regions. People have conserved and maintained traditional folk villages (TFVs) dominated with houses made of natural materials, arable land and surrounding elements of landscape. Until now, little attention has been given to understand the traits of breeding birds in TFVs of Korea. The aim of this study was to reveal traits of breeding birds in TFVs and get conservative implications for biodiversity. We selected five TFVs: Hahoe maeul (HA), Wanggok maeul (WG), Nagan maeul (NA), Yangdong maeul (YD), and Hangae maeul (HG). We surveyed breeding birds with line transect methods, and analyzed functional traits (diet type and nest type) of birds in TFVs. Among 60 species recorded, <i>Passer montanus</i> (PM), <i>Streptopelia orientalis</i> (SO), <i>Hirundo rustica</i> (HR), <i>Pica pica</i> (PP), <i>Phoenicuros auroreus</i> (PA), <i>Paradoxornis webbiana</i> (PW), <i>Microscelis amaurotis</i> (MA), <i>Carduelis sinica</i> (CA) and <i>Oriolus chinensis</i> (OC) could be potential breeding birds that prefer diverse habitats of TFVs in Korea. Compared to the breeding birds of rural, urban and forest environments, the diversity of nesting types for birds was high in TFVs. The diverse nest types of breeding birds can be linked with habitat heterogeneity influenced by sustainable interaction between nature and human in TFVs in Korea.
  • Nitrogen Fertilizer Effects on Pea–Barley Intercrop Productivity Compared to Sole Crops in Denmark

    Reed John Cowden; Ambreen Naz Shah; Lisa Mølgaard Lehmann; Lars Pødenphant Kiær; Christian Bugge Henriksen; Bhim Bahadur Ghaley (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Cereal–legume intercropping increases the nitrogen (N) input from biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and improves the exploitation of fertilizer and soil N, often leading to higher grain N content and higher productivity per unit land area compared to monocrops. Previous studies have found that these effects are more tangible under low soil and fertilizer N conditions compared to high N availability, and there is a need to assess the N uptake at critical crop development stages in order to time the N application for maximum uptake and use efficiency. The objective of this study was to assess the productivity of pea–barley intercropping compared to monocropping under 0 kg N ha<sup>−1</sup> (0 N) and 100 kg N ha<sup>−1</sup> (100 N). In 2017, a split plot experimental design was implemented with pea (<i>Pisum sativum)</i><b></b> sole crop (SC pea), barley (<i>Hordeum vulgare</i>) sole crop (SC barley), and pea–barley intercrop (IC total) as the main plots and 100 N applications in two 50 kg N ha<sup>−1</sup> splits at 30 and 60 days after emergence as subplots within the main plots. The Land Equivalent Ratio (LER), based on grain dry matter (GDM) yields in the pea–barley intercrop (IC total), was higher (1.14 at 0 N and 1.10 at 100 N), indicating 10–14% greater radiation, nutrient, and water use efficiency compared to the sole crops and 4% greater resource use efficiency at 0 N compared to the 100 N; this illustrated greater total intercrop productivity compared to sole crops. The 100 N treatment decreased the SC pea and pea in intercrop (IC pea) GDM and grain dry matter N (GDMN) and increased the GDM and GDMN in SC barley and barley in the intercrop (IC barley). Intercropping increased the grain N content and therefore the protein content of the grains in 0 N and 100 N treatments. The highest fertilizer N yield, % nitrogen derived from fertilizer (%NDFF), and % nitrogen use efficiency (%NUE) were achieved in SC barley followed by IC total, indicating that intercropping improved the soil and fertilizer N use compared to SC pea. The IC pea increased the % nitrogen derived from atmosphere (%NDFA) from 67.9% in SC pea to 70.1% in IC pea. IC total increased the share of %NDFF, %NDFS, and %NDFA compared to the SC pea, which indicated a significant advantage of intercropping due to the complementarity of the component species under limited N supply in the field.
  • Functional Unit for Impact Assessment in the Mining Sector—Part 1

    Julien Bongono; Birol Elevli; Bertrand Laratte (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    More and more efforts are directed towards the standardization of the methods of determining the functional unit (FU) in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). These efforts concern the development of theories and detailed methodological guides, but also the evaluation of the quality of the FU obtained. The objective of this article is to review this work in order to propose, using a multiscale approach, a method for defining the FU in the mining sector, which takes into account all the dimensions of the system under study. In this first part, the emphasis is on identifying the shortcomings of the FU. The absence of a precise normative framework specific to each sector of activity, as well as the complex, multifunctional and hard-to-scale nature of the systems concerned, are at the origin of the flexibility in the selection of the FU. This lack of a framework, beyond generating a heterogeneous definition of the FU for the same system, most often leads to an incomplete formulation of this sensitive concept of LCA. It has been found that key parameters such as the end-use of a product or process, as well as the interests of stakeholders, are hardly taken into account in the specification of the FU.
  • Analysis of Cost-Optimal Renewable Energy Expansion for the Near-Term Jordanian Electricity System

    Simon Hilpert; Franziska Dettner; Ahmed Al-Salaymeh (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Jordan is affected by an ever changing environment in the midst of climate change, political challenges, a fast growing economy and socio-economic pressures. Among other countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, Jordan is facing a number of electricity related challenges, such as a rising energy demand, high dependency on fossil fuel imports and management of local, fossil and renewable resources. The paper presents an analysis based on an open source optimisation modelling approach identifying a cost-optimal extension of the Jordanian electricity system with growing demand projections until 2030 utilising pumped hydro energy storage and determining the costs of different CO<sub>2</sub> mitigation pathways. The results highlight the large potential of renewable energy for the cost effective, environmentally friendly and energy independent development of the Jordanian electricity sector. A share of up to 50% renewable energy can be achieved with only a minor increase in levelised cost of electricity from 54.42 to 57.04 $/MWh. In particular, a combination of photovoltaic and pumped hydro storage proved to be a superior solution compared to the expansion of existing shale oil deployments due to high costs and CO<sub>2</sub> emissions. Aiming for a more than 50% renewable energy share within the electricity mix calls for substantial wind energy deployments. In a system with a renewable energy share of 90%, wind energy covers 45% of the demand.
  • OSS-Qual: Holistic Scale to Assess Customer Quality Perception When Buying Secondhand Products in Online Platforms

    Neus Vila-Brunet; Josep Llach (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    Online secondhand markets have been growing substantially over the last decade and are expected to grow further. In order to effectively promote the growth of online secondhand markets, this paper designs and validates a scale to assess customer perception of the service quality of secondhand products purchased via online platforms. Complementarily, the paper assesses how each of the different dimensions that configure the scale contributes to explaining the fulfillment of customers’ expectations. The scale is defined by 23 items and is arranged in 5 dimensions from the literature on online commerce as well as on the sharing economy. A sample of 200 questionnaires is used for exploratory factor analysis. A second sample of 507 users is used for confirmatory factor analysis. The quality perceived by online customers of secondhand products depends on the quality of the interactions that they have with the website, with the vendor, and with the product. The dimension that contributes the most to customer fulfillment of expectations is product quality. Findings identify the items that contribute the most to quality perception and fulfillment of expectations, facilitating the development of more effective strategies for platform owners and vendors who want to attract and retain customers of secondhand products. Complementarily, these findings are useful to businesses and governments that want to promote a more sustainable economy by reducing consumption of new products and promoting reutilization of existing ones.
  • Measurement of the Spatial Complexity and Its Influencing Factors of Agricultural Green Development in China

    Hongpeng Guo; Shuang Xu; Chulin Pan (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
    The article focuses on the spatial complexity of agricultural green development (AGD) in different regions. The article first constructs an evaluation index system for the level of AGD from four dimensions: Social development, economic benefits, resource input, and ecological environment. Then, the article uses an improved entropy weight method to evaluate the level of AGD with panel data of 31 provinces in China from 2007 to 2018. Finally, on the basis of Moran Index and the Spatial Durbin Model, the article analyzes the spatial heterogeneity of the factors that affect the green development of agriculture in China. The results show that: (1) From 2007 to 2018, the overall level of AGD shows a fluctuating upward trend in China, and there are differences among provinces. The level of AGD in the three major regions presents the characteristics of Eastern > Central > Western; (2) China’s provincial AGD level has an obvious positive autocorrelation in spatial distribution, showing significant spatial agglomeration characteristics in space; (3) the four factors of urbanization level, agricultural mechanization level, scientific and technological R&D investment, and arable area, have different effects on the level of AGD in three major regions. This study provides a reference for understanding the status of China’s agricultural green development level and policy recommendations on how to improve the level of agricultural green development. The results imply that some effective policy measures, such as prompting the integrated development of the three major industries and optimizing the industrial structure, should be taken to coordinate “green” with “development” from national and regional perspectives.

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