• Capsule membranes encapsulated with smart nanogels for facile detection of trace lead(II) ions in water

      Liu, Wen Ying; Ju, Xiao Jie; Faraj, Yousef; He, Fan; Peng, Han Yu; Liu, Yu Qiong; Liu, Zhuang; Wang, Wei; Xie, Rui; Chu, Liang Yin; et al.
      A novel method based on capsule membranes encapsulated with smart nanogels is successfully developed for facilely detecting trace lead(II) (Pb2+) ions, which are hazardous to both human health and the environment because of their toxicity. The capsule membrane system is composed of a semi-permeable calcium alginate membrane and encapsulated poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acryloylamidobenzo-18-crown-6) (PNB) nanogels. The semi-permeable membrane allows Pb2+ ions and water to pass through quickly, but rejects the encapsulated nanogels and polymers totally. As soon as Pb2+ ions appear in the aqueous environment and enter into the capsule, they can be specifically recognized by encapsulated PNB nanogels via forming 18-crown-6/Pb2+ complexes that cause a Pb2+-induced phase transition of PNB nanogels from hydrophobic to hydrophilic state. As a result, the osmotic pressure inside the capsule membrane increases remarkably, and thus the elastic capsule membrane isothermally swells upon the presence of Pb2+ ions in the environmental aqueous solution. The Pb2+-induced swelling degree of the capsule membrane is dependent on the concentration of Pb2+ ions ([Pb2+]) in water. Thus, the [Pb2+] value in water is able to be easily detected by directly measuring the Pb2+-induced isothermal swelling ratio of the capsule membrane, which we demonstrate by using 15 prepared capsule membranes arranged in a line. The Pb2+-induced swelling ratios of the capsule membrane groups are easily observed with the naked eye, and the detection limit of the [Pb2+] in water is 10-9 mol L-1. Such a proposed method provides an easy and efficient strategy for facile detection of trace threat analytes in water.
    • Carbon dioxide rich microbubble acceleration of biogas production in anaerobic digestion

      Al-Mashhadani, Mahmood K. H.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; Zimmerman, William B. (2016-12-15)
      This paper addresses the use of anaerobic bacteria to convert carbon dioxide to biomethane as part of the biodegradation process of organic waste. The current study utilises gaslift bioreactors with microbubbles generated by fluidic oscillation to strip the methane produced in the gaslift bioreactor. Removal of methane makes its formation thermodynamically more favourable. In addition, intermittent sparging of microbubbles can prevent thermal stratification, maintain uniformity of the pH and increase the intimate contact between the feed and microbial culture with lower energy requirements than traditional mixing. A gaslift bioreactor with microbubble sparging has been implemented experimentally, using a range of carrier gas, culminating in pure carbon dioxide, in the anaerobic digestion process. The results obtained from the experiments show that the methane production rate is approximately doubled with pure carbon dioxide as the carrier gas for intermittent microbubble sparging.
    • Cardiovascular disease and healthy ageing

      Mooney, Kathleen M.; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester, Edgehill University (Open Access Text, 2016-06-16)
      Cardiovascular diseases are main cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western World. Cardiovascular disease increases in its prevalence with age and the burden of this condition is set to increase with an Ageing global population. There are many factors that impact cardiovascular disease risk. The aim of this brief commentary is to explore some of these factors; specifically, we will examine the role of social status, nutrition and, psychological stress in modulating cardiovascular disease risk. Our aim is to emphasise the multidimensional nature of this condition and to stress that a more complete understanding of the mechanisms which underpin its pathology can only be achieved by adopting an integrated approach which treats the progression of this disease in a more holistic fashion.
    • Cholesterol metabolism: A review of how ageing disrupts the biological mechanisms responsible for its regulation

      Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; Pickles, Neil; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester, Edgehill University (Elsevier, 2016-04-01)
      Cholesterol plays a vital role in the human body as a precursor of steroid hormones and bile acids, in addition to providing structure to cell membranes. Whole body cholesterol metabolism is maintained by a highly coordinated balancing act between cholesterol ingestion, synthesis, absorption, and excretion. The aim of this review is to discuss how ageing interacts with these processes. Firstly, we will present an overview of cholesterol metabolism. Following this, we discuss how the biological mechanisms which underpin cholesterol metabolism are effected by ageing. Included in this discussion are lipoprotein dynamics, cholesterol absorption/synthesis and the enterohepatic circulation/synthesis of bile acids. Moreover, we discuss the role of oxidative stress in the pathological progression of atherosclerosis and also discuss how cholesterol biosynthesis is effected by both the mammalian target of rapamycin and sirtuin pathways. Next, we examine how diet and alterations to the gut microbiome can be used to mitigate the impact ageing has on cholesterol metabolism. We conclude by discussing how mathematical models of cholesterol metabolism can be used to identify therapeutic interventions.
    • Combined heat and power from the intermediate pyrolysis of biomass materials: performance, economics and environmental impact

      Yang, Yang; Brammer, John G.; Wright, Daniel G.; Scott, Jim; Serrano, Clara; Bridgwater, Tony; Aston University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-02-10)
      Combined heat and power from the intermediate pyrolysis of biomass materials offers flexible, on demand renewable energy with some significant advantages over other renewable routes. To maximize the deployment of this technology an understanding of the dynamics and sensitivities of such a system is required. In the present work the system performance, economics and life-cycle environmental impact is analysed with the aid of the process simulation software Aspen Plus. Under the base conditions for the UK, such schemes are not currently economically competitive with energy and char products produced from conventional means. However, under certain scenarios as modelled using a sensitivity analysis this technology can compete and can therefore potentially contribute to the energy and resource sustainability of the economy, particularly in on-site applications with low-value waste feedstocks. The major areas for potential performance improvement are in reactor cost reductions, the reliable use of waste feedstocks and a high value end use for the char by-product from pyrolysis.
    • Combustion of fuel blends containing digestate pyrolysis oil in a multi-cylinder compression ignition engine

      Hossain, Abul K.; Serrano, Clara; Brammer, John G.; Omran, Abdelnasir; Ahmed, F.; Smith, David I.; Davies, Philip A.; Aston University (Elsevier, 2015-12-23)
      Digestate from the anaerobic digestion conversion process is widely used as a farm land fertiliser. This study proposes an alternative use as a source of energy. Dried digestate was pyrolysed and the resulting oil was blended with waste cooking oil and butanol (10, 20 and 30 vol.%). The physical and chemical properties of the pyrolysis oil blends were measured and compared with pure fossil diesel and waste cooking oil. The blends were tested in a multi-cylinder indirect injection compression ignition engine. Engine combustion, exhaust gas emissions and performance parameters were measured and compared with pure fossil diesel operation. The ASTM copper corrosion values for 20% and 30% pyrolysis blends were 2c, compared to 1b for fossil diesel. The kinematic viscosities of the blends at 40 C were 5–7 times higher than that of fossil diesel. Digested pyrolysis oil blends produced lower in-cylinder peak pressures than fossil diesel and waste cooking oil operation. The maximum heat release rates of the blends were approximately 8% higher than with fossil diesel. The ignition delay periods of the blends were higher; pyrolysis oil blends started to combust late and once combustion started burnt quicker than fossil diesel. The total burning duration of the 20% and 30% blends were decreased by 12% and 3% compared to fossil diesel. At full engine load, the brake thermal efficiencies of the blends were decreased by about 3–7% when compared to fossil diesel. The pyrolysis blends gave lower smoke levels; at full engine load, smoke level of the 20% blend was 44% lower than fossil diesel. In comparison to fossil diesel and at full load, the brake specific fuel consumption (wt.) of the 30% and 20% blends were approximately 32% and 15% higher. At full engine load, the CO emission of the 20% and 30% blends were decreased by 39% and 66% with respect to the fossil diesel. Blends CO2 emissions were similar to that of fossil diesel; at full engine load, 30% blend produced approximately 5% higher CO2 emission than fossil diesel. The study concludes that on the basis of short term engine experiment up to 30% blend of pyrolysis oil from digestate of arable crops can be used in a compression ignition engine.
    • Comparative Potential of Natural Gas, Coal and Biomass Fired Power Plant with Post - combustion CO2 Capture and Compression

      Ali, Usman; Font Palma, Carolina; Akram, Muhammad; Agbonghae, Elvis O.; Ingham, Derek B.; Pourkashanian, Mohamed; University of Sheffield, University of Chester, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (Elsevier, 2017-06-07)
      The application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon neutral techniques should be adopted to reduce the CO2 emissions from power generation systems. These environmental concerns have renewed interest towards the use of biomass as an alternative to fossil fuels. This study investigates the comparative potential of different power generation systems, including NGCC with and without exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), pulverised supercritical coal and biomass fired power plants for constant heat input and constant fuel flowrate cases. The modelling of all the power plant cases is realized in Aspen Plus at the gross power output of 800 MWe and integrated with a MEA-based CO2 capture plant and a CO2 compression unit. Full-scale detailed modelling of integrated power plant with a CO2 capture and compression system for biomass fuel for two different cases is reported and compared with the conventional ones. The process performance, in terms of efficiency, emissions and potential losses for all the cases, is analysed. In conclusion, NGCC and NGCC with EGR integrated with CO2 capture and compression results in higher net efficiency and least efficiency penalty reduction. Further, coal and biomass fired power plants integrated with CO2 capture and compression results in higher specific CO2 capture and the least specific losses per unit of the CO2 captured. Furthermore, biomass with CO2 capture and compression results in negative emissions.
    • Computational Modelling Folate Metabolism and DNA Methylation: Implications for Understanding Health and Ageing

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Salcedo-Sora, J. Enrique; University of Chester; Edge Hill University; Liverpool Hope University (Oxford University Press, 2016-12-21)
      Dietary folates have a key role to play in health as deficiencies in the intake of these B vitamins have been implicated in a wide variety of clinical conditions. The reason for this is folates function as single carbon donors in the synthesis of methionine and nucleotides. Moreover, folates have a vital role to play in the epigenetics of mammalian cells by supplying methyl groups for DNA methylation reactions. Intriguingly, a growing body of experimental evidence suggests DNA methylation status could be a central modulator of the ageing process. This has important health implications because the methylation status of the human genome could be used to infer age-related disease risk. Thus, it is imperative we further our understanding of the processes which underpin DNA methylation and how these intersect with folate metabolism and ageing. The biochemical and molecular mechanisms which underpin these processes are complex. However, computational modelling offers an ideal framework for handling this complexity. A number of computational models have been assembled over the years, but to date no model has represented the full scope of the interaction between the folate cycle and the reactions which govern the DNA methylation cycle. In this review we will discuss several of the models which have been developed to represent these systems. In addition we will present a rationale for developing a combined model of folate metabolism and the DNA methylation cycle.
    • Computational systems biology for aging research

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; Mooney, Kathleen M.; University of Chester ; Edge Hill University (Karger, 2015)
      Computational modelling is a key component of systems biology and integrates with the other techniques discussed thus far in this book by utilizing a myriad of data that are being generated to quantitatively represent and simulate biological systems. This chapter will describe what computational modelling involves; the rationale for using it, and the appropriateness of modelling for investigating the aging process. How a model is assembled and the different theoretical frameworks that can be used to build a model are also discussed. In addition, the chapter will describe several models which demonstrate the effectiveness of each computational approach for investigating the constituents of a healthy aging trajectory. Specifically, a number of models will be showcased which focus on the complex age-related disorders associated with unhealthy aging. To conclude, we discuss the future applications of computational systems modelling to aging research.
    • Computationally modeling lipid metabolism and aging: A mini-review

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; Mooney, Kathleen M.; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Elsevier, 2014-11-15)
      One of the greatest challenges in biology is to improve the understanding of the mechanisms which underpin aging and how these affect health. The need to better understand aging is amplified by demographic changes, which have caused a gradual increase in the global population of older people. Aging western populations have resulted in a rise in the prevalence of age-related pathologies. Of these diseases, cardiovascular disease is the most common underlying condition in older people. The dysregulation of lipid metabolism due to aging impinges significantly on cardiovascular health. However, the multifaceted nature of lipid metabolism and the complexities of its interaction with aging make it challenging to understand by conventional means. To address this challenge computational modeling, a key component of the systems biology paradigm is being used to study the dynamics of lipid metabolism. This mini-review briefly outlines the key regulators of lipid metabolism, their dysregulation, and how computational modeling is being used to gain an increased insight into this system.
    • Computer Modelling for Nutritionists

      Mc Auley, Mark Tomás; University of Chester
      This book is about computational modelling of nutrient focused biological systems. The book is aimed at students, researchers, and those with an interest in learning how to build a computational model. The book is the product of many years of teaching computational modelling to undergraduates, postgraduates, and researchers with limited, or no background in computational modelling. What I learned from these experiences is those new to modelling are invariably apprehensive about it, and approach it with a degree of trepidation, or even scepticism. However, from tentative initial steps, they quickly realize that modelling is not as challenging, or as academically intimidating as they initially perceive it; and after gaining familiarity with the essential components of model building they rapidly become cognisant, that it offers an alternative lens to view a biological system, and learn new insights about its underlying dynamic behaviour. In this book I provide a practical introduction to modelling, for those who are interested in exploring the dynamics of nutrient based systems. My rationale for undertaking this project is based on my experience of interacting with nutritionists in recent years. As a result of many fruitful discussions I identified a growing need for a book of this nature, which is specifically tailored to nutritionists. My aims are to provide the reader with a solid grounding in computational modelling, and how it dovetails within the burgeoning field of systems biology. For the reader this will involve learning how a model is assembled, what software tools are available for model building, what the different paradigms are for simulating a model, and how to analyse and interpret the output from in silico simulations. The only expectation I make of you, as a reader, is that you are enthusiastic about learning how to use new software tools. In exchange for your engagement I will provide you with ample practical exercises, which will help to consolidate your learning, and will make your computational modelling journey a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
    • A deterministic oscillatory model of microtubule growth and shrinkage for differential actions of short chain fatty acids

      Kilner, Josephine; Corfe, Bernard M.; Mc Auley, Mark T.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; University of Sheffield; University of Chester (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015-11-09)
      Short chain fatty acids (SCFA), principally acetate, propionate, butyrate and valerate, are produced in pharmacologically relevant concentrations by the gut microbiome. Investigations indicate that they exert beneficial effects on colon epithelia. There is increasing interest in whether different SCFAs have distinct functions which may be exploited for prevention or treatment of colonic diseases including colorectal cancer (CRC), inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Based on experimental evidence, we hypothe-sised that odd-chain SCFAs may possess anti-mitotic capabilities in colon cancer cells by disrupting microtubule (MT) structural integrity via dysregulation of b-tubulin isotypes. MT dynamic instability is an essential characteristic of MT cellular activity. We report a minimal deterministic model that takes a novel approach to explore the hypothesised pathway by triggering spontaneous oscillations to represent MT dynamic behaviour. The dynamicity parameters in silico were compared to those reported in vitro.Simulations of untreated and butyrate (even-chain length) treated cells reflected MT behaviour in interphase or untreated control cells. The propionate and valerate (odd-chain length) simulations displayed increased catastrophe frequencies and longer periods of MT-fibre shrinkage. Their enhanced dynamicity wasdissimilar to that observed in mitotic cells, but parallel to that induced by MT-destabilisation treatments.Antimicrotubule drugs act through upward or downward modulation of MT dynamic instability. Our computational modelling suggests that metabolic engineering of the microbiome may facilitate managing CRC risk by predicting outcomes of SCFA treatments in combination with AMDs
    • Disrupting folate metabolism reduces the capacity of bacteria in exponential growth to develop persisters to antibiotics

      Morgan, Jasmine; Smith, Matthew; Mc Auley, Mark T.; Salcedo-Sora, J. Enrique; Edge Hill University; Liverpool Hope University; University of Chester (Microbiology Society, 2018-11-24)
      Bacteria can survive high doses of antibiotics through stochastic phenotypic diversification. We present initial evidence that folate metabolism could be involved with the formation of persisters. The aberrant expression of the folate enzyme gene fau seems to reduce the incidence of persisters to antibiotics. Folate-impaired bacteria had a lower generation rate for persisters to the antibiotics ampicillin and ofloxacin. Persister bacteria were detectable from the outset of the exponential growth phase in the complex media. Gene expression analyses tentatively showed distinctive profiles in exponential growth at times when bacteria persisters were observed. Levels of persisters were assessed in bacteria with altered, genetically and pharmacologically, folate metabolism. This work shows that by disrupting folate biosynthesis and usage, bacterial tolerance to antibiotics seems to be diminished. Based on these findings there is a possibility that bacteriostatic antibiotics such as anti-folates could have a role to play in clinical settings where the incidence of antibiotic persisters seems to drive recalcitrant infections.
    • Effects of obesity on cholesterol metabolism and its implications for healthy ageing.

      Mc Auley, Mark Tomás; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2020-01-27)
      The last few decades have witnessed a global rise in the number of older people. Despite this demographic shift, morbidity within this population group is high. Many factors influence healthspan; however an obesity pandemic is emerging as a significant determinant of older peoples’ health. It is well established obesity adversely effects several metabolic systems. However, due to its close association with overall cardiometabolic health, the impact obesity has on cholesterol metabolism needs to be recognised. The aim of this review is to critically discuss the effects obesity has on cholesterol metabolism and to reveal its significance for healthy ageing.
    • Evaluation of a Micro Gas Turbine With Post-Combustion CO2 Capture for Exhaust Gas Recirculation Potential With Two Experimentally Validated Models

      Nikpey Somehsaraei, Homam; Ali, Usman; Font-Palma, Carolina; Mansouri Majoumerd, Mohammad; Akram, Muhammad; Pourkashanian, Mohamed; Assadi, Mohsen (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2017-08-17)
      The growing global energy demand is facing concerns raised by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly CO2. Despite substantial progress in the field of renewable energy in recent years, quick balancing responses and back-up services are still necessary to maintain the grid load and stability, due to increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. In a scenario of natural gas availability, gas turbine power may be a substitute for back-up/balancing load. Rapid start-up and shut down, high ramp rate, and low emissions and maintenance have been achieved in commercial gas turbine cycles. This industry still needs innovative cycle configurations, e.g. exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), to achieve higher system performance and lower emissions in the current competitive power generation market. Together with reduced NOx emissions, EGR cycle provides an exhaust gas with higher CO2 concentration compared to the simple gas turbine/combined cycle, favorable for post-combustion carbon capture. This paper presents an evaluation of EGR potential for improved gas turbine cycle performance and integration with a post-combustion CO2 capture process. It also highlights features of two software tools with different capabilities for performance analysis of gas turbine cycles, integrated with post-combustion capture. The study is based on a combined heat and power micro gas turbine (MGT), Turbec T100, of 100kWe output. Detailed models for the baseline MGT and amine capture plant were developed in two software tools, IPSEpro and Aspen Hysys. These models were validated against experimental work conducted at the UK PACT National Core Facilities. Characteristics maps for the compressor and the turbine were used for the MGT modeling. The performance indicators of systems with and without EGR, and when varying the EGR ratio and ambient temperature, were calculated and are presented in this paper.
    • Evaluation of the Performance and Economic Viability of a Novel Low Temperature Carbon Capture Process

      Lychnos, George; Clements, Alastair; Willson, Paul; Font Palma, Carolina; Diego, Maria E.; Pourkashanian, Mohamed; Howe, Joseph; PMW Technology Limited; University of Sheffield; University of Chester (SSRN, 2018-10)
      A novel Advanced Cryogenic Carbon Capture (A3C) process is being developed due to its potential to achieve high CO2 capture efficiencies using low cost but high intensity heat transfer to deliver a much reduced energy consumption and process equipment size. These characteristics, along with the absence of process chemicals, offer the potential for application across a range of sectors. This work presents a techno-economic evaluation for applications ranging from 3% to 30% CO2 content.
    • Evaluation of the performance and economic viability of a novel low temperature carbon capture process

      Wilson, Paul; Lychnos, George; Clements, Alastair; Michailos, Stavros; Font Palma, Carolina; Diego, Maria E.; Pourkashanian, Mohamed; Howe, Joseph; PMW Technology Ltd; University of Sheffield; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2019-04-22)
      A novel Advanced Cryogenic Carbon Capture (A3C) process is being developed using low cost but high intensity heat transfer to achieve high CO2 capture efficiencies with a much reduced energy consumption and process equipment size. These characteristics, along with the purity of CO2 product and absence of process chemicals, offer the potential for application across a range of sectors. This work presents a techno-economic evaluation for applications ranging from 3% to 35%vol. CO2 content. The A3C process is evaluated against an amine-based CO2 capture process for three applications; an oil-fired boiler, a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) and a biogas upgrading plant. The A3C process has shown a modest life cost advantage over the mature MEA technology for the larger selected applications, and substantially lower costs in the smaller biogas application. Enhanced energy recovery and optimization offer significant opportunities for further reductions in cost.
    • Experimental and process modelling study of integration of a micro-turbine with an amine plant

      Agbonghae, Elvis O.; Best, Thom; Finney, Karen N.; Font Palma, Carolina; Hughes, Kevin J.; Pourkashanian, Mohamed; University of Leeds (Elsevier, 2014-12-31)
      An integrated model of a micro-turbine coupled to a CO2 capture plant has been developed with Aspen Plus, and validated with experimental data obtained from a Turbec T100 microturbine at the PACT facilities in the UKCCS Research Centre, Beighton, UK. Monoethanolamine (MEA) was used as solvent and experimental measurements from the CO2 capture plant have been used to validate the steady-state model developed with Aspen Plus®. The optimum liquid/gas ratio and the lean CO2 loading for 90% CO2 capture has been quantified for flue gases with CO2 concentrations ranging from 3 to 8 mol%.
    • Experimental Exploration of CO2 Capture Using a Cryogenic Moving Packed Bed

      Cann, David; Willson, Paul; Font Palma, Carolina; University of Chester; PMW Technology Ltd; University of Chester (SSRN, 2018-10)
      This study examines a novel cryogenic post-combustion capture process, based on a moving bed of cold beads to freeze CO2 out of a flue gas, and this paper presents the first steps in experimental work. The preliminary experiments included the test of fluidization of bed material, if the flow rate of bed material can be kept constant in and out of the column and the estimation of heat transfer coefficient. The obtained results are encouraging for the running of the rig at cryogenic conditions.
    • Impact of the operating conditions and position of exhaust gas recirculation on the performance of a micro gas turbine

      Ali, Usman; Font Palma, Carolina; Hughes, Kevin J.; Ingham, Derek B.; Ma, Lin; Pourkashanian, Mohamed; University of Chester/University of Leeds (Elsevier, 2015-06-10)
      Gas turbines are a viable and secure option both economically and environmentally for power and heat generation. The process simulation of the micro gas turbine with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and its impact on performance is evaluated. This study is further extended to evaluate the effect of the operating conditions and position of the EGR on the performance of the micro gas turbine. The performance analysis for different configurations of the EGR cycle, as well as flue gas condensation temperature, results in the optimized position of EGR at the compressor inlet with partial condensation resulting in the CO2 enhancement to 3.7 mol%.