Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 27

Search results for: Lucian J. Pitt

27 Working Capital Efficiency and Firm Profitability: Nigeria and Kenya

Authors: Lucian J. Pitt

Abstract:

The primary purpose of this study is to understand the differences in the relationship between working capital management efficiency, working capital investment decisions and working capital finance decisions and the profitability of firms within the context of two African developing economies, Kenya and Nigeria. The study finds that there is a significant difference in the relationship between the firm’s profitability and the working capital variables which suggests different challenges for working capital management in each of these countries.

Keywords: working capital management, working capital investment, working capital finance, profitability, cash conversion cycle

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26 The Diary of Dracula, by Marin Mincu: Inquiries into a Romanian 'Book of Wisdom' as a Fictional Counterpart for Corpus Hermeticum

Authors: Lucian Vasile Bagiu, Paraschiva Bagiu

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The novel written in Italian and published in Italy in 1992 by the Romanian scholar Marin Mincu is meant for the foreign reader, aiming apparently at a better knowledge of the historical character of Vlad the Empalor (Vlad Dracul), within the European cultural, political and historical context of 1463. Throughout the very well written tome, one comes to realize that one of the underlining levels of the fiction is the exposing of various fundamental features of the Romanian culture and civilization. The author of the diary, Dracula, makes mention of Corpus Hermeticum no less than fifteen times, suggesting his own diary is some sort of a philosophical counterpart. The essay focuses on several ‘truths’ and ‘wisdom’ revealed in the fictional teachings of Dracula. The boycott of History by the Romanians is identified as an echo of the philosophical approach of the famous Romanian scholar and writer Lucian Blaga. The orality of the Romanian culture is a landmark opposed to written culture of the Western Europe. The religion of the ancient Dacian God Zalmoxis is seen as the basis for the Romanian existential and/or metaphysical ethnic philosophy (a feature tackled by the famous Romanian historian of religion Mircea Eliade), with a suggestion that Hermes Trismegistus may have written his Corpus Hermeticum being influenced by Zalmoxis. The historical figure of the last Dacian king Decebalus (death 106 AD) is a good pretext for a tantalizing Indo-European suggestion that the prehistoric Thraco-Dacian people may have been the ancestors of the first Romans settled in Latium. The lost diary of the Emperor Trajan The Bello Dacico may have proved that the unknown language of the Dacians was very much alike Latin language (a secret well hidden by the Vatican). The attitude towards death of the Dacians, as described by Herodotus, may have later inspired Pitagora, Socrates, the Eleusinian and Orphic Mysteries, etc. All of these within the Humanistic and Renascentist European context of the epoch, Dracula having a close relationship with scholars such as Nicolaus Cusanus, Cosimo de Medici, Marsilio Ficino, Pope Pius II, etc. Thus The Diary of Dracula turns out as exciting and stupefying as Corpus Hermeticum, a book impossible to assimilate entirely, yet a reference not wise to be ignored.

Keywords: Corpus Hermeticum, Dacians, Dracula, Zalmoxis

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25 Improvement of Thermal Stability in Ethylene Methyl Acrylate Composites for Gasket Application

Authors: Pemika Ketsuwan, Pitt Supaphol, Manit Nithitanakul

Abstract:

A typical used of ethylene methyl acrylate (EMA) gasket is in the manufacture of optical lens, and often, they are deteriorated rapidly due to high temperature during the process. The objective of this project is to improve the thermal stability of the EMA copolymer gasket by preparing EMA with cellulose and silica composites. Hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose (HPMC) and Carboxy methyl cellulose (CMC) were used in preparing of EMA/cellulose composites and fumed silica (SiO2) was used in preparing EMA/silica composites with different amounts of filler (3, 5, 7, 10, 15 wt.%), using a twin screw extruder at 160 °C and the test specimens were prepared by the injection molding machine. The morphology and dispersion of fillers in the EMA matrix were investigated by field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). The thermal stability of the composite was determined by thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), and differential scanning calorimeter (DSC). Mechanical properties were evaluated by tensile testing. The developed composites were found to enhance thermal and mechanical properties when compared to that of the EMA copolymer alone.

Keywords: ethylene methyl acrylate, HPMC, Silica, Thermal stability

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24 Nanotechnology-Based Treatment of Klebsiella pneumoniae Infections

Authors: Lucian Mocan, Teodora Mocan, Matea Cristian, Cornel Iancu

Abstract:

We present method of nanoparticle enhanced laser thermal ablation of Klebsiella pneumoniae infections, using gold nanoparticles combined with a specific growth factor and demonstrate its selective therapeutic efficacy. Ab (antibody solution) bound to GNPs (gold nanoparticles) was administered in vitro and determined the specific delivery of the nano-bioconjugate into the microorganism. The extent of necrosis was considerable following laser therapy, and at the same time, normal cells were not seriously affected. The selective photothermal ablation of the infected tissue was obtained after the selective accumulation of Ab bound to GNPs into bacteria following perfusion. These results may represent a major step in antibiotherapy treatment using nanolocalized thermal ablation by laser heating.

Keywords: gold nanoparticles, Klebsiella pneumoniae, nanoparticle functionalization, laser irradiation, antibody

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23 Development of Gold Nanoparticles-Antibody System for the Selective Photothermal Destruction of Multidrug Resistant Bacteria

Authors: Teodora Mocan, Lucian Mocan, Cornel Iancu, Flaviu A. Tabaran, Bartos Dana, Matea Cristian

Abstract:

Antimicrobial resistance, which threatens the efficacy of the existing antibiotics represents a worldwide public health issue. At the current time, vancomycin is the only responsive treatment although has significant cytotoxicity, is partially effective and it is poorly retained by infected tissues. From a clinical point of view, attractive alternative approaches for treating such Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) strains would be using agents that cause physical damage to the bacteria. Modular nanopharmaceuticals systems are being designed to address all of these multifunctional capabilities for the ideal bacterial treatment, with the ability to mix and match appropriate functions. Here we present a novel method of selective laser photothermal ablation of MRSA bacteria mediated by gold nanoparticles bound to PBP antibody against PBP protein located on the MRSA surface.

Keywords: MRSA, laser, nanoparticle, antibody

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22 Study on Stability and Wear in a Total Hip Prostheses

Authors: Virgil Florescu, Lucian Capitanu

Abstract:

The studies performed by the author and presented here focus mainly on the FE simulation of some relevant phenomena related to stability of orthopedic implants, especially those components of Total Hip Prostheses. The objectives are to study the mechanisms of achieving stability of acetabular prosthetic components and the influence of some characteristic parameters, to evaluate the effect of femoral stem fixation modality on the stability of prosthetic component and to predict long-term behavior, to analyze a critical phenomena which influence the loading transfer mechanism through artificial joints and could lead to aseptic loosening – the wear of joint frictional surfaces. After a theoretical background an application is made considering only three activities: normal walking, stair ascending and stair descending. For each activity, this function is maximized in a different locations: if for normal walking the maxima is in the superior-posterior part of the acetabular cup, for stair descending this maxim value could be located rather in the superior-anterior part, for stair ascending being even closer to the central area of the cup.

Keywords: THA, acetabular stability, FEM simulation, stresses and displacements, wear tests, wear simulation

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21 Specific Colon Cancer Prophylaxis Using Dendritic Stem Cells and Gold Nanoparticles Functionalized with Colon Cancer Epitopes

Authors: Teodora Mocan, Matea Cristian, Cornel Iancu, Flaviu A. Tabaran, Florin Zaharie, Bartos Dana, Lucian Mocan

Abstract:

Colon cancer (CC) a lethal human malignancy, is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer. With its high increased mortality rate, as well as low survival rate combined with high resistance to chemotherapy CC, represents one of the most important global health issues. In the presented research, we have developed a distinct nanostructured colon carcinoma vaccine model based on a nano-biosystem composed of 39 nm gold nanoparticles conjugated to colon cancer epitopes. We prove by means of proteomic analysis, immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry and hyperspectral microscopy that our developed nanobioconjugate was able to contribute to an optimal prophylactic effect against CC by promoting major histocompatibility complex mediated (MHC) antigen presentation by dendritic cells. We may conclude that the proposed immunoprophylactic approach could be more effective than the current treatments of CC because it promotes recognition of the tumoral antigens by the immune system.

Keywords: anticancer vaccine, colon cancer, gold nanoparticles, tumor antigen

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20 Nanotechnology-Based Treatment of Liver Cancer

Authors: Lucian Mocan

Abstract:

We present method of Nanoparticle enhanced laser thermal ablation of HepG2 cells (Human hepatocellular liver carcinomacell line), using gold nanoparticles combuned with a specific growth factor and demonstrate its selective therapeutic efficacy usig ex vivo specimens. Ex vivo-perfused liver specimens were obtained from hepatocellular carcinoma patients similarly to the surgical technique of transplantation. Ab bound to GNPs was inoculated intra-arterially onto the resulting specimen and determined the specific delivery of the nano-bioconjugate into the malignant tissue by means of the capillary bed. The extent of necrosis was considerable following laser therapy and at the same time surrounding parenchyma was not seriously affected. The selective photothermal ablation of the malignant liver tissue was obtained after the selective accumulation of Ab bound to GNPs into tumor cells following ex-vivo intravascular perfusion. These unique results may represent a major step in liver cancer treatment using nanolocalized thermal ablation by laser heating.

Keywords: HepG2 cells, gold nanoparticles, nanoparticle functionalization, laser irradiation

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19 Long Term Variability of Temperature in Armenia in the Context of Climate Change

Authors: Hrachuhi Galstyan, Lucian Sfîcă, Pavel Ichim

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The purpose of this study is to analyze the temporal and spatial variability of thermal conditions in the Republic of Armenia. The paper describes annual fluctuations in air temperature. Research has been focused on case study region of Armenia and surrounding areas, where long–term measurements and observations of weather conditions have been performed within the National Meteorological Service of Armenia and its surrounding areas. The study contains yearly air temperature data recorded between 1961-2012. Mann-Kendal test and the autocorrelation function were applied to detect the change trend of annual mean temperature, as well as other parametric and non-parametric tests searching to find the presence of some breaks in the long term evolution of temperature. The analysis of all records reveals a tendency mostly towards warmer years, with increased temperatures especially in valleys and inner basins. The maximum temperature increase is up to 1,5 °C. Negative results have not been observed in Armenia. The patterns of temperature change have been observed since the 1990’s over much of the Armenian territory. The climate in Armenia was influenced by global change in the last 2 decades, as results from the methods employed within the study.

Keywords: air temperature, long-term variability, trend, climate change

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18 Aspects Regarding the Structural Behaviour of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Emergency Response

Authors: Lucian Stefanita Grigore, Damian Gorgoteanu, Cristian Molder, Amado Stefan, Daniel Constantin

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The purpose of this article is to present an analytical-numerical study on the structural behavior of a sunken autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) for emergency intervention. The need for such a study was generated by the key objective of the ERL-Emergency project. The project aims to develop a system of collaborative robots for emergency response. The system consists of two robots: unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) on tracks and the second is an AUV. The system of collaborative robots, AUV and UGV, will be used to perform missions of monitoring, intervention, and rescue. The main mission of the AUV is to dive into the maritime space of an industrial port to detect possible leaks in a pipeline transporting petroleum products. Another mission is to close and open the valves with which the pipes are provided. Finally, you will need to be able to lift a manikin to the surface, which you can take to land. Numerical analysis was performed by the finite element method (FEM). The conditions for immersing the AUV at 100 m depth were simulated, and the calculations for different fluid flow rates were repeated. From a structural point of view, the stiffening areas and the enclosures in which the command-and-control elements and the accumulators are located have been especially analyzed. The conclusion of this research is that the AUV meets very well the established requirements.

Keywords: analytical-numerical, emergency, FEM, robotics, underwater

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17 Development of Essential Oil-Loaded Gelatin Hydrogels for Use as Antibacterial Wound Dressing

Authors: Piyachat Chuysinuan, Nitirat Chimnoi, Arthit Makarasen, Nanthawan Reuk-Ngam, Pitt Supaphol, Supanna Techasakul

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In this work, biomaterial wound dressings was developed based on gelatin containing herbal substances (essential oil), a substance from the plant Eupatorium adenophorum Spreng (Crofton weed) that used as traditional wound healers. Gelatin hydrogel was prepared from a 10 wt-% gelatin solution. The oil in water (o/w) emulsion Eupatorium adenophorum of essential oil were prepared and used Pluronic F68 as a surfactant. The 10, 20, and 30 % v/v emulsion were mixed with gelatin solution and cast into film. These hydrogels were tested for their gel fraction, swelling and weight loss behavior. With an increase in the emulsion concentration the emulsion-loaded in hydrogels, the gel fraction were decreased due to the crosslink density, while the swelling and weight loss behavior were increased with an increasing in the emulsion content. The potential to use the emulsion-containing gelatin hydrogels as wound dressing was assessed on investigation the release characteristics of the as-loaded hydrogels. The E. adenophorum essential oil was first identified the chemical composition by using GC-MS analysis. The principal components of the oil were p-cymene (16.23%), bornyl acetate (11.84%), and amorpha-4, 7(11)-diene (10.51%). The hydrogel wound dressing containing essential oil was then characterized for their antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative in order to elucidate their potential for use as antibacterial wound dressings by using agar disk diffusion methods. The result showed that E. adenophorum essential oil and the emulsion-loaded gelatin hydrogel inhibited the growth of the test pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis and increased with increasing the initial amount of essential oil in the hydrogels which confirmed their application as antibacterial wound dressings. Furthermore, the potential use of these wound dressings was further assessed in terms of the indirect cytotoxicity, in vitro attachment and proliferation of dermal human fibroblasts cultured in the hydrogel wound dressings.

Keywords: hydrogel, antibacterial wound dressing, Eupatorium adenophorum essential oil, gelatin

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16 Pre-Service Teachers’ Reasoning and Sense Making of Variables

Authors: Olteanu Constanta, Olteanu Lucian

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Researchers note that algebraic reasoning and sense making is essential for building conceptual knowledge in school mathematics. Consequently, pre-service teachers’ own reasoning and sense making are useful in fostering and developing students’ algebraic reasoning and sense making. This article explores the forms of reasoning and sense making that pre-service mathematics teachers exhibit and use in the process of analysing problem-posing tasks with a focus on first-degree equations. Our research question concerns the characteristics of the problem-posing tasks used for reasoning and sense making of first-degree equations as well as the characteristics of pre-service teachers’ reasoning and sense making in problem-posing tasks. The analyses are grounded in a post-structuralist philosophical perspective and variation theory. Sixty-six pre-service primary teachers participated in the study. The results show that the characteristics of reasoning in problem-posing tasks and of pre-service teachers are selecting, exploring, reconfiguring, encoding, abstracting and connecting. The characteristics of sense making in problem-posing tasks and of pre-service teachers are recognition, relationships, profiling, comparing, laddering and verifying. Beside this, the connection between reasoning and sense making is rich in line of flight in problem-posing tasks, while the connection is rich in line of rupture for pre-service teachers.

Keywords: first-degree equations, problem posing, reasoning, rhizomatic assemblage, sense-making, variation theory

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15 A Comparative Case Study on Teaching Romanian Language to Foreign Students: Swedes in Lund versus Arabs in Alba Iulia

Authors: Lucian Vasile Bagiu, Paraschiva Bagiu

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The study is a contrastive essay on language acquisition and learning and follows the outcomes of teaching Romanian language to foreign students both at Lund University, Sweden (from 2014 to 2017) and at '1 Decembrie 1918' University in Alba Iulia, Romania (2017-2018). Having employed the same teaching methodology (on campus, same curricula) for the same level of study (beginners’ level: A1-A2), the essay focuses on the written exam at the end of the semester. The study argues on grammar exercises concerned with: the indefinite and the definite article; the conjugation of verbs in the present indicative; the possessive; verbs in the past tense; the subjunctive; the degrees of comparison for adjectives. Identifying similar errors when solving identical grammar exercises by different groups of foreign students is an opportunity to emphasize the major challenges any foreigner has to face and overcome when trying to acquire Romanian language. The conclusion draws attention to the complexity of the morphology of Romanian language in several key elements which may be insurmountable for a foreign speaker no matter if the language acquisition takes place in a foreign country or a Romanian university.

Keywords: Arab students, morphological errors, Romanian language, Swedish students, written exam

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14 The Effect of the Cultural Constraint on the Reform of Corporate Governance: The Observation of Taiwan's Efforts to Transform Its Corporate Governance

Authors: Yuanyi (Richard) Fang

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Under the theory of La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, Shleifer, and Vishny, if a country can increase its legal protections for minority shareholders, the country can develop an ideal securities market that only arises under the dispersed ownership corporate governance. However, the path-dependence scholarship, such as Lucian Arye Bebchuk and Mark J. Roe, presented a different view with LLS&V. They pointed out that the initial framework of the ownership structure and traditional culture will prevent the change of the corporate governance structure through legal reform. This paper contends that traditional culture factors as an important aspect when forming the corporate governance structure. However, it is not impossible for the government to change its traditional corporate governance structure and traditional culture because the culture does not remain intact. Culture evolves with time. The occurrence of the important events will affect the people’s psychological process. The psychological process affects the evolution of culture. The new cultural norms can help defeat the force of the traditional culture and the resistance from the initial corporate ownership structure. Using Taiwan as an example, through analyzing the historical background, related corporate rules and the reactions of adoption new rules from the media, this paper try to show that Taiwan’s culture norms do not remain intact and have changed with time. It further provides that the culture is not always the hurdle for the adoption of the dispersed ownership corporate governance structure as the culture can change. A new culture can provide strong support for the adoption of the new corporate governance structure.

Keywords: LLS&V theory, corporate governance, culture, path–dependent theory

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13 Thermodynamic and Immunochemical Studies of Antibody Biofunctionalized Gold Nanoparticles Mediated Photothermal Ablation in Human Liver Cancer Cells

Authors: Lucian Mocan, Flaviu Tabaran, Teodora Mocan, Cristian Matea, Cornel Iancu

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We present method of Gold Nanoparticle enhanced laser thermal ablation of HepG2 cells (Human hepatocellular liver carcinoma cell line), based on a simple gold nanoparticle carrier system, such as serum albumin (BSA), and demonstrate its selective therapeutic efficacy. Hyperspectral, contrast phase, and confocal microscopy combined immunochemical staining were used to demonstrate the selective internalization of HSA-GNPs via Gp60 receptors and the caveolin-mediated endocytosis inside HepG2 cells. We examined the ability of laser-activated carbon nanotubes to induce Hsp70 expression using confocal microscopy. Hep G2 cells heat-shocked (laser activated BSA-GNPs) to 42°C demonstrated an up-regulation of Hsp70 compared with control cells (BSA-GNPs treated cells without laser), which showed no detectable constitutive expression of Hsp70. We observed a time-dependent induction in Hsp70 expression in Hep G2 treated with BSA-GNPs and LASER irradiated. The post-irradiation apoptotic rate of HepG2 cells treated with HSA-GNPs ranged from 88.24% (for 50 mg/L) at 60 seconds, while at 30 minute the rate increased to 92.34% (50 mg/L). These unique results may represent a major step in liver cancer treatment using nanolocalized thermal ablation by laser heating.

Keywords: gold nanoparticles, liver cancer, albumin, laser irradiation

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12 Visco - Plastic Transition and Transfer of Plastic Material with SGF in case of Linear Dry Friction Contact on Steel Surfaces

Authors: Lucian Capitanu, Virgil Florescu

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Often for the laboratory studies, modeling of specific tribological processes raises special problems. One such problem is the modeling of some temperatures and extremely high contact pressures, allowing modeling of temperatures and pressures at which the injection or extrusion processing of thermoplastic materials takes place. Tribological problems occur mainly in thermoplastics materials reinforced with glass fibers. They produce an advanced wear to the barrels and screws of processing machines, in short time. Obtaining temperatures around 210 °C and higher, as well as pressures around 100 MPa is very difficult in the laboratory. This paper reports a simple and convenient solution to get these conditions, using friction sliding couples with linear contact, cylindrical liner plastic filled with glass fibers on plate steel samples, polished and super-finished. C120 steel, which is a steel for moulds and Rp3 steel, high speed steel for tools, were used. Obtaining the pressure was achieved by continuous request of the liner in rotational movement up to its elasticity limits, when the dry friction coefficient reaches or exceeds the hardness value of 0.5 HB. By dissipation of the power lost by friction on flat steel sample, are reached contact temperatures at the metal surface that reach and exceed 230 °C, being placed in the range temperature values of the injection. Contact pressures (in load and materials conditions used) ranging from 16.3-36.4 MPa were obtained depending on the plastic material used and the glass fibers content.

Keywords: plastics with glass fibers, dry friction, linear contact, contact temperature, contact pressure, experimental simulation

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11 Development of a Novel Nanobiosystem for the Selective Nanophotothermolysis of Meticilin Resistant Staphyloccocous Aureus Using Anti-MRSA Antibody Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles

Authors: Lucian Mocan, Cristian Matea, Flaviu A. Tabaran, Teodora Mocan, Cornel Iancu

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Introduction: Due to antibiotic resistance, systemic infections caused by Meticilin resistant Staphyloccocous Aureus (MRSA) are the main cause of millions of deaths each year. Development of new active biomolecules that are highly effective and refractory to antibiotic resistance may open new avenues in the field of antimicrobial therapy. In this research, we have focused on the development of a novel nanobiosystem with high affinity for MRSA microorganism to mediate its selective laser thermal ablation. Materials and Methods: Gold nanoparticles (15nm in diameter) linked to a specific antibody against MRSA surface were selectively delivered (at various concentrations and incubation times) and internalized into MRSA microorganism following the treatment these multidrug-resistant bacteria were irradiated using a 2w, 808 nm LASER. Results and Discussions: The post-irradiation necrotic rate ranged from 51.2% (for 1 mg/L) to 87.3% (for 50 mg/L) at 60 seconds (p<0.001), while at 30 minute the necrotic rate increased from 64.3% (1 mg/L) to 92.1% (50 mg/L), p value<0.001. Significantly lower apoptotic rates were obtained in irradiated MRSA treated with GNPs only (control) treated for 60 seconds and 30 minutes at concentrations ranging from 1 mg/L to 50 mg/L. We show here that the optimal LASER mediated the necrotic effect of MRSA after incubation with anti-MRSA-Ab was obtained at a concentration of 50 mg/L. Conclusion: In the presented research, we obtained a very efficacious pulse laser mode treatment of individual MRSA agents with minimal effects on the surrounding medium, providing highly localized destruction only for MRSA microorganism.

Keywords: MRSA, photothermolysis, antibiotic resistance, gold nanoparticles

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10 Carbapenem Usage in Medical Wards: An Antibiotic Stewardship Feedback Project

Authors: Choon Seong Ng, P. Petrick, C. L. Lau

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Background: Carbapenem-resistant isolates have been increasingly reported recently. Carbapenem stewardship is designed to optimize its usage particularly among medical wards with high prevalence of carbapenem prescriptions to combat such emerging resistance. Carbapenem stewardship programmes (CSP) can reduce antibiotic use but clinical outcome of such measures needs further evaluation. We examined this in a prospective manner using feedback mechanism. Methods: Our single-center prospective cohort study involved all carbapenem prescriptions across the medical wards (including medical patients admitted to intensive care unit) in a tertiary university hospital setting. The impact of such stewardship was analysed according to the accepted and the rejected groups. The primary endpoint was safety. Safety measure applied in this study was the death at 1 month. Secondary endpoints included length of hospitalisation and readmission. Results: Over the 19 months’ period, input from 144 carbapenem prescriptions was analysed on the basis of acceptance of our CSP recommendations on the use of carbapenems. Recommendations made were as follows : de-escalation of carbapenem; stopping the carbapenem; use for a short duration of 5-7 days; required prolonged duration in the case of carbapenem-sensitive Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamases bacteremia; dose adjustment; and surgical intervention for removal of septic foci. De-escalation, shorten duration of carbapenem and carbapenem cessation comprised 79% of the recommendations. Acceptance rate was 57%. Those who accepted CSP recommendations had no increase in mortality (p = 0.92), had a shorter length of hospital stay (LOS) and had cost-saving. Infection-related deaths were found to be higher among those in the rejected group. Moreover, three rejected cases (6%) among all non-indicated cases (n = 50) were found to have developed carbapenem-resistant isolates. Lastly, Pitt’s bacteremia score appeared to be a key element affecting the carbapenem prescription’s behaviour in this trial. Conclusions: Carbapenem stewardship program in the medical wards not only saves money, but most importantly it is safe and does not harm the patients with added benefits of reducing the length of hospital stay. However, more time is needed to engage the primary clinical teams by formal clinical presentation and immediate personal feedback by senior Infectious Disease (ID) personnel to increase its acceptance.

Keywords: audit and feedback, carbapenem stewardship, medical wards, university hospital

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9 Studies on the Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture or in Incinerators

Authors: Catalina Iticescu, Lucian Georgescu, Mihaela Timofti, Dumitru Dima, Gabriel Murariu

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The amounts of sludge resulting from the treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater can create serious environmental problems if no solutions are found to eliminate them. At present, the predominant method of sewage sludge disposal is to store and use them in agricultural applications. The sewage sludge has fertilizer properties and can be used to enrich agricultural soils due to the nutrient content. In addition to plant growth (nitrogen and phosphorus), the sludge also contains heavy metals in varying amounts. An increasingly used method is the incineration of sludge. Thermal processes can be used to convert large amounts of sludge into useful energy. The sewage sludge analyzed for the present paper was extracted from the Wastewater Treatment Station (WWTP) Galati, Romania. The physico-chemical parameters determined were: pH (upH), nutrients and heavy metals. The determination methods were electrochemical, spectrophotometric and energy dispersive X–ray analyses (EDX). The results of the tests made on the content of nutrients in the sewage sludge have shown that existing nutrients can be used to increase the fertility of agricultural soils. The conclusion reached was that these sludge can be safely used on agricultural land and with good agricultural productivity results. To be able to use sewage sludge as a fuel, we need to know its calorific values. For wet sludge, the caloric power is low, while for dry sludge it is high. Higher calorific value and lower calorific value are determined only for dry solids. The apparatus used to determine the calorific power was a Parr 6755 Solution Calorimeter Calorimeter (Parr Instrument Company USA 2010 model). The calorific capacities for the studied sludge indicate that they can be used successfully in incinerators. Mixed with coal, they can also be used to produce electricity. The advantages are: it reduces the cost of obtaining electricity and considerably reduces the amount of sewage sludge.

Keywords: agriculture, incinerators, properties, sewage sludge

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8 Green Synthesis of Silver Nanoparticles Mediated by Plant by-Product Extracts

Authors: Cristian Moisa, Andreea Lupitu, Adriana Csakvari, Dana G. Radu, Leonard Marian Olariu, Georgeta Pop, Dorina Chambre, Lucian Copolovici, Dana Copolovici

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Green synthesis of nanoparticles (NPs) represents a promising, accessible, eco-friendly, and safe process with significant applications in biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences, and farming. The aim of our study was to obtain silver nanoparticles, using plant wastes extracts resulted in the essential oils extraction process: Thymus vulgaris L., Origanum vulgare L., Lavandula angustifolia L., and in hemp processing for seed and fibre, Cannabis sativa. Firstly, we obtained aqueous extracts of thyme, oregano, lavender, and hemp (two monoicous and one dioicous varieties), all harvested in western part of Romania. Then, we determined the chemical composition of the extracts by liquid-chromatography coupled with diode array and mass spectrometer detectors. The compounds identified in the extracts were in agreement with earlier published data, and the determination of the antioxidant activity of the obtained extracts by DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) and ABTS (2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)) assays confirmed their antioxidant activity due to their total polyphenolic content evaluated by Folin-Ciocalteu assay. Then, the silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) were successfully biosynthesised, as was demonstrated by UV-VIS, FT-IR spectroscopies, and SEM, by reacting AgNO₃ solution and plant extracts. AgNPs were spherical in shape, with less than 30 nm in diameter, and had a good bactericidal activity against Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and Gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas fluorescens).

Keywords: plant wastes extracts, chemical composition, high performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometer, HPLC-MS, scanning electron microscopy, SEM, silver nanoparticles

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7 Methods and Techniques for Lower Danube Sturgeon Monitoring Used for the Assessment of Anthropic Activities Pressures and the Quantification of Risks on These Species

Authors: Gyorgy Deak, Marius C. Raischi, Lucian P. Georgescu, Tiberius M. Danalache, Elena Holban, Madalina G. Boboc, Monica Matei, Catalina Iticescu, Marius V. Olteanu, Stefan Zamfir, Gabriel Cornateanu

Abstract:

At present, on the Lower Danube, different types of pressures have been identified that affect the anadromous sturgeons stocks with an impact that leads to their decline. This paper presents techniques and procedures used by Romanian experts in the tagging and monitoring of anadromous sturgeons, as well as unique results at international level obtained on the basis of an informational volume collected in over 7 years of monitoring on these species behavior (both for adults as well as for ultrasonically tagged juveniles) on the Lower Danube. The local impact of hydrotechnical constructions (bottom sill, maritime navigation channel), the global impact of the poaching phenomenon and the impact of the restocking programs with sturgeon juveniles were assessed. Thus, the bottom sill impact on the Bala branch, the Bastroe Channel (cross-border impact) and the poaching phenomenon at the level of the Lower Danube was analyzed on the basis of a unique informational volume obtained through the use of patented monitoring systems by the Romanian experts (DKTB respectively, DKMR-01T). At the same time, the results from the monitoring of ultrasonically tagged sturgeon juveniles from the 2015 repopulation program are presented. Conclusions resulting from research can ensure favorable premises for finding some conservation solutions for CITES-protected sturgeon species that have survived for millions of years, currently being 1 species on the brink of extinction - Russian sturgeon, 2 species in danger of extinction - Beluga sturgeon and Stellate sturgeon and 2 species already extinct from the Lower Danube, namely common sturgeon and ship sturgeon.

Keywords: Lower Danube, sturgeons monitoring (adults and juveniles), tagging, impact on conservation

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6 The Influence of Characteristics of Waste Water on Properties of Sewage Sludge

Authors: Catalina Iticescu, Lucian P. Georgescu, Mihaela Timofti, Gabriel Murariu, Catalina Topa

Abstract:

In the field of environmental protection in the EU and also in Romania, strict and clear rules are imposed that are respected. Among those, mandatory municipal wastewater treatment is included. Our study involved Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant (MWWTP) of Galati. MWWTP began its activity by the end of 2011 and technology is one of the most modern used in the EU. Moreover, to our knowledge, it is the first technology of this kind used in the region. Until commissioning, municipal wastewater was discharged directly into the Danube without any treatment. Besides the benefits of depollution, a new problem has arisen: the accumulation of increasingly large sewage sludge. Therefore, it is extremely important to find economically feasible and environmentally friendly solutions. One of the most feasible methods of disposing of sewage sludge is their use on agricultural land. Sewage sludge can be used in agriculture if monitored in terms of physicochemical properties (pH, nutrients, heavy metals, etc.), in order not to contribute to pollution in soils and not to affect chemical and biological balances, which are relatively fragile. In this paper, 16 physico-chemical parameters were monitored. Experimental testings were realised on waste water samples, sewage sludge results and treated water samples. Testing was conducted with electrochemichal methods (pH, conductivity, TDS); parameters N-total (mg/L), P-total (mg/L), N-NH4 (mg/L), N-NO2 (mg/L), N-NO3 (mg/L), Fe-total (mg/L), Cr-total (mg/L), Cu (mg/L), Zn (mg/L), Cd (mg/L), Pb (mg/L), Ni (mg/L) were determined by spectrophotometric methods using a spectrophotometer NOVA 60 and specific kits. Analyzing the results, we concluded that Sewage sludges, although containing heavy metals, are in small quantities and will not affect the land on which they will be deposited. Also, the amount of nutrients contained are appreciable. These features indicate that the sludge can be safely used in agriculture, with the advantage that they represent a cheap fertilizer. Acknowledgement: This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation – UEFISCDI, PNCDI III project, 79BG/2017, Efficiency of the technological process for obtaining of sewage sludge usable in agriculture, Efficient.

Keywords: municipal wastewater, physico-chemical properties, sewage sludge, technology

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5 TiO2 Solar Light Photocatalysis a Promising Treatment Method of Wastewater with Trinitrotoluene Content

Authors: Ines Nitoi, Petruta Oancea, Lucian Constantin, Laurentiu Dinu, Maria Crisan, Malina Raileanu, Ionut Cristea

Abstract:

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is the most common pollutant identified in wastewater generated from munitions plants where this explosive is synthesized or handled (munitions load, assembly and pack operations). Due to their toxic and suspected carcinogenic characteristics, nitroaromatic compounds like TNT are included on the list of prioritary pollutants and strictly regulated in EU countries. Since their presence in water bodies is risky for human health and aquatic life, development of powerful, modern treatment methods like photocatalysis are needed in order to assures environmental pollution mitigation. The photocatalytic degradation of TNT was carried out at pH=7.8, in aqueous TiO2 based catalyst suspension, under sunlight irradiation. The enhanced photo activity of catalyst in visible domain was assured by 0.5% Fe doping. TNT degradation experiments were performed using a tubular collector type solar photoreactor (26 UV permeable silica glass tubes series connected), plug in a total recycle loops. The influence of substrate concentration and catalyst dose on the pollutant degradation and mineralization by-products (NO2-, NO3-, NH4+) formation efficiencies was studied. In order to compare the experimental results obtained in various working conditions, the pollutant and mineralization by-products measured concentrations have been considered as functions of irradiation time and cumulative photonic energy Qhν incident on the reactor surface (kJ/L). In the tested experimental conditions, at tens mg/L pollutant concentration, increase of 0,5%-TiO2 dose up to 200mg/L leads to the enhancement of CB degradation efficiency. Since, doubling of TNT content has a negative effect on pollutant degradation efficiency, in similar experimental condition, prolonged irradiation time from 360 to 480 min was necessary in order to assures the compliance of treated effluent with limits imposed by EU legislation (TNT ≤ 10µg/L).

Keywords: wastewater treatment, TNT, photocatalysis, environmental engineering

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4 Exploring Pre-trained ASR Model HuBERT for Early Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment Detection in Speech

Authors: Monica Gonzalez Machorro, Rafael Martinez Tomas

Abstract:

Dementia disease is difficult to diagnose because of the lack of early physical symptoms. Early dementia recognition is key to improving the living condition of patients. Due to speech impairment being a common characteristic of early types of dementia, speech technology is considered a valuable biomarker for this challenge. Recent works have utilized conventional acoustic features and machine learning methods to detect dementia in speech. BERT-like classifiers have reported the most promising performance. One constraint, nonetheless, is that these studies are either based on human transcripts or on transcripts produced by automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. Regarding the first case, transcripts have high quality but require time-consuming processing. In the case of the ASR systems, transcription quality is poor because patients with dementia usually present agrammatical speech, which leads to a high word error rate. This research contribution is to explore a method that does not require transcriptions nor feature extraction but is able to detect early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) based on raw speech files. This is achieved by fine-tuning a pre-trained ASR model for the early downstream AD and MCI tasks. To do so, a subset of the thoroughly studied Pitt Corpus is customized to provide a dataset containing early AD and MCI speech samples. The subset is balanced for class, age and, gender. Data processing also involves cropping the samples to 10-second segments. For comparison purposes, a baseline model is defined by training and testing a Random Forest with 20 extracted acoustic features using librosa library implemented in Python. These are: zero-crossing rate, MFCCs, spectral bandwidth, spectral centroid, root mean square, and short-time Fourier transform. The baseline model achieved a 58% accuracy. To fine-tune HuBERT as a classifier, an average pooling strategy is employed to merge the 3D representations from audio into 2D representations, and a linear layer is added. The pre-trained model used is ‘hubert-large-ls960-ft’ downloaded from the HuggingFace Transformers library. Empirically, the number of epochs selected is 5 and the batch size defined is 1. Experiments show that our proposed method reaches a 74% accuracy. This suggests that the linguistic and speech information encoded in the self-supervised ASR-based model is able to learn acoustic cues of AD and MCI speech. The proposed method not only outperforms the baseline model but also provides a potential clinical application as it is content-independent, automatic, and transcription-free.

Keywords: automatic speech recognition, early Alzheimer’s recognition, mild cognitive impairment, speech impairment

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3 Influence of Sewage Sludge on Agricultural Land Quality and Crop

Authors: Catalina Iticescu, Lucian P. Georgescu, Mihaela Timofti, Gabriel Murariu

Abstract:

Since the accumulation of large quantities of sewage sludge is producing serious environmental problems, numerous environmental specialists are looking for solutions to solve this problem. The sewage sludge obtained by treatment of municipal wastewater may be used as fertiliser on agricultural soils because such sludge contains large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and organic matter. In many countries, sewage sludge is used instead of chemical fertilizers in agriculture, this being the most feasible method to reduce the increasingly larger quantities of sludge. The use of sewage sludge on agricultural soils is allowed only with a strict monitoring of their physical and chemical parameters, because heavy metals exist in varying amounts in sewage sludge. Exceeding maximum permitted quantities of harmful substances may lead to pollution of agricultural soil and may cause their removal aside because the plants may take up the heavy metals existing in soil and these metals will most probably be found in humans and animals through food. The sewage sludge analyzed for the present paper was extracted from the Wastewater Treatment Station (WWTP) Galati, Romania. The physico-chemical parameters determined were: pH (upH), total organic carbon (TOC) (mg L⁻¹), N-total (mg L⁻¹), P-total (mg L⁻¹), N-NH₄ (mg L⁻¹), N-NO₂ (mg L⁻¹), N-NO₃ (mg L⁻¹), Fe-total (mg L⁻¹), Cr-total (mg L⁻¹), Cu (mg L⁻¹), Zn (mg L⁻¹), Cd (mg L⁻¹), Pb (mg L⁻¹), Ni (mg L⁻¹). The determination methods were electrometrical (pH, C, TSD) - with a portable HI 9828 HANNA electrodes committed multiparameter and spectrophotometric - with a Spectroquant NOVA 60 - Merck spectrophotometer and with specific Merck parameter kits. The tests made pointed out the fact that the sludge analysed is low heavy metal falling within the legal limits, the quantities of metals measured being much lower than the maximum allowed. The results of the tests made to determine the content of nutrients in the sewage sludge have shown that the existing nutrients may be used to increase the fertility of agricultural soils. Other tests were carried out on lands where sewage sludge was applied in order to establish the maximum quantity of sludge that may be used so as not to constitute a source of pollution. The tests were made on three plots: a first batch with no mud and no chemical fertilizers applied, a second batch on which only sewage sludge was applied, and a third batch on which small amounts of chemical fertilizers were applied in addition to sewage sludge. The results showed that the production increases when the soil is treated with sludge and small amounts of chemical fertilizers. Based on the results of the present research, a fertilization plan has been suggested. This plan should be reconsidered each year based on the crops planned, the yields proposed, the agrochemical indications, the sludge analysis, etc.

Keywords: agricultural use, crops, physico–chemical parameters, sewage sludge

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2 The Influence of Ibuprofen, Diclofenac and Naproxen on Composition and Ultrastructural Characteristics of Atriplex patula and Spinacia oleracea

Authors: Ocsana Opris, Ildiko Lung, Maria L. Soran, Alexandra Ciorita, Lucian Copolovici

Abstract:

The effects assessment of environmental stress factors on both crop and wild plants of nutritional value are a very important research topic. Continuously worldwide consumption of drugs leads to significant environmental pollution, thus generating environmental stress. Understanding the effects of the important drugs on plant composition and ultrastructural modification is still limited, especially at environmentally relevant concentrations. The aim of the present work was to investigate the influence of three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on chlorophylls content, carotenoids content, total polyphenols content, antioxidant capacity, and ultrastructure of orache (Atriplex patula L.) and spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). All green leafy vegetables selected for this study were grown in controlled conditions and treated with solutions of different concentrations (0.1‒1 mg L⁻¹) of diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen. After eight weeks of exposure of the plants to NSAIDs, the chlorophylls and carotenoids content were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with photodiode array and mass spectrometer detectors, total polyphenols and antioxidant capacity by ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy. Also, the ultrastructural analyses of the vegetables were performed using transmission electron microscopy in order to assess the influence of the selected NSAIDs on cellular organisms, mainly photosynthetic organisms (chloroplasts), energy supply organisms (mitochondria) and nucleus as a cellular metabolism coordinator. In comparison with the control plants, decreases in the content of chlorophylls were observed in the case of the Atriplex patula L. plants treated with ibuprofen (11-34%) and naproxen (25-52%). Also, the chlorophylls content from Spinacia oleracea L. was affected, the lowest decrease (34%) being obtained in the case of the treatment with naproxen (1 mg L⁻¹). Diclofenac (1 mg L⁻¹) affected the total polyphenols content (a decrease of 45%) of Atriplex patula L. and ibuprofen (1 mg L⁻¹) affected the total polyphenols content (a decrease of 20%) of Spinacia oleracea L. The results obtained also indicate a moderate reduction of carotenoids and antioxidant capacity in the treated plants, in comparison with the controls. The investigations by transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that the green leafy vegetables were affected by the selected NSAIDs. Thus, this research contributes to a better understanding of the adverse effects of these drugs on studied plants. Important to mention is that the dietary intake of these drugs contaminated plants, plants with important nutritional value, may also presume a risk to human health, but currently little is known about the fate of the drugs in plants and their effect on or risk to the ecosystem.

Keywords: abiotic stress, green leafy vegetables, pigments content, ultra structure

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1 Developing a High Performance Cement Based Material: The Influence of Silica Fume and Organosilane

Authors: Andrea Cretu, Calin Cadar, Maria Miclaus, Lucian Barbu-Tudoran, Siegfried Stapf, Ioan Ardelean

Abstract:

Additives and mineral admixtures have become an integral part of cement-based materials. It is common practice to add silica fume to cement based mixes in order to produce high-performance concrete. There is still a lack of scientific understanding regarding the effects that silica fume has on the microstructure of hydrated cement paste. The aim of the current study is to develop high-performance materials with low permeability and high resistance to flexural stress using silica fume and an organosilane. Organosilane bonds with cement grains and silica fume, influencing both the workability and the final properties of the mix, especially the pore size distributions and pore connectivity. Silica fume is a known pozzolanic agent which reacts with the calcium hydroxide in hydrated cement paste, producing more C-S-H and improving the mechanical properties of the mix. It is believed that particles of silica fume act as capillary pore fillers and nucleation centers for C-S-H and other hydration products. In order to be able to design cement-based materials with added silica fume and organosilane, it is necessary first to understand the formation of the porous network during hydration and to observe the distribution of pores and their connectivity. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods in low-fields are non-destructive and allow the study of cement-based materials from the standpoint of their porous structure. Other methods, such as XRD and SEM-EDS, help create a comprehensive picture of the samples, along with the classic mechanical tests (compressive and flexural strength measurements). The transverse relaxation time (T₂) was measured during the hydration of 16 samples prepared with two water/cement ratios (0.3 and 0.4) and different concentrations or organosilane (APTES, up to 2% by mass of cement) and silica fume (up to 6%). After their hydration, the pore size distribution was assessed using the same NMR approach on the samples filled with cyclohexane. The SEM-EDS and XRD measurements were applied on pieces and powders prepared from the samples that were used in mechanical testing, which were kept under water for 28 days. Adding silica fume does not influence the hydration dynamics of cement paste, while the addition of organosilane extends the dormancy stage up to 10 hours. The size distribution of the capillary pores is not influenced by the addition of silica fume or organosilane, while the connectivity of capillary pores is decreased only when there is organosilane in the mix. No filling effect is observed even at the highest concentration of silica fume. There is an apparent increase in flexural strength of samples prepared only with silica fume and a decrease for those prepared with organosilane, with a few exceptions. XRD reveals that the pozzolanic reactivity of silica fume can only be observed when there is no organosilane present and the SEM-EDS method reveals the pore distribution, as well as hydration products and the presence or absence of calcium hydroxide. The current work was funded by the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI, through project PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-0719.

Keywords: cement hydration, concrete admixtures, NMR, organosilane, porosity, silica fume

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