Tuscia University
  • Viterbo, Italy
Recent publications
The aim of this paper is to analyze the effects of structural asymmetries related to the use of interest rate swaps within the European Union (EU) on the sustainability of public debt. The fiscal consolidation required to comply with the European budgetary rules increased for some countries the incentives to use debt related instruments (i.e., financialization of debt). Indeed, in the period 2006–2020, 17 EU countries used interest rate swaps to hedge their public debt. Dynamic panel data analysis results show that a 1 percent increase in the ratio of interest rate swaps to debt, ceteris paribus, leads to an improvement of the primary surplus over GDP by 0.49, thus ameliorating the sustainability of public debt. However, financial contracts imply additional risks that can ultimately impact in the medium term on public debt, which are not currently assessed by the standard Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA). The aim of the paper is to fill this gap and discuss the main policy implications of the use of swap. In the post pandemic era, the political economy of debt reduction should properly consider the financial risks related to swaps.
Coffee, the most globally prevalent beverage, entails environmental and economic consequences due to the high content of toxic compounds in leftover from brewing. Waste-to-energy technologies propose recovering energy from solid or liquid wastes via various treatment methods. This study investigates the environmental performance of the spent coffee ground application in pellet production as a valuable bio-product by life cycle assessment. System boundaries comprise four stages: (1) spent coffee ground collection; (2) pellet production; (3) thermal energy generation; and (4) waste disposal. The LCA model is interpreted by ReCipe 2016 in both midpoint and endpoint levels per 1 MJ of thermal energy as functional unit. Alternative waste-to-energy approaches into transesterification, pyrolysis, and direct combustion of spent coffee ground are also assessed. The impact assessment shows that the pelletizing process significantly contributes to all impact categories except ozone formation and terrestrial ecotoxicity, which is influenced primarily by the transportation process in the spent coffee ground collection stage. The spent coffee ground pellet can lead to climate change mitigation, and reduction in freshwater eutrophication and use of resources due to credits from ash disposed to landfill. Biodiesel is the worst potential option among alternative scenarios, while pellet production and bio-oil demonstrate the most favorable environmental profiles for all impact categories. Damage assessment indicates that pellet production and alternative scenarios mainly influence human health.
The most urgent concern confronting the steel industry in the twenty-first century is climate change. The Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) is the second most common process in steelmaking, accounting for 29% of the total global production of crude steel in 2018. More than 40% of energy in current EAFs originates from chemical sources of fossil fuels: natural gas and coal. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the steelmaking process necessitates the development of breakthrough technologies and operational strategies. The use of biochar from torrefaction, slow pyrolysis and hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) of biomass as a substitute for fossil coal in EAF was investigated in this research. A three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model for combustion and electrode radiation inside an EAF was developed by assuming particle surface and gas-phase reactions to predict injected biochar particle combustion. The effect of the combustion reaction on the temperature distribution inside the EAF and the influence of intermediate gas release was analysed. Results showed that the use of biochars instead of fossil coal in the EAF steelmaking process did not involve significant negative differences. CFD can be a useful and reliable support for guiding adequate EAF process and injection design in a more eco-friendly scenario.
The aim of reducing exploitation of the earth leads to the development of Renewable Energy Sources (RES). A technology that achieves this purpose using the solar energy is the Compound Solar Concentrator, able to increase the conveyance of the sun’s rays onto the solar cells. In this work this technology is equipped with a Coil Cooling System, to cool the system by improving the conversion efficiency. The heat absorbed by the cooling water represents usable energy in an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system. The first part of the work is based on transient numerical simulations of the cooled Compound Parabolic Concentrator (CPC) with COMSOL Multiphysics (CM) software. The performance parameters show that after about n.20 models the improvements are contained reaching a thermal equilibrium. The selected number of cooled CPCs is n.20, reaching a temperature of the outlet water from coils of 50 °C and a flow rate composed of n.2 coils of 1.2 l/min. Exploiting this outlet water, an ORC technology is coupled from a simulation point of view with the cooled CPC, making it possible to obtain an electric and thermal efficiency of 11.73% and 60.30% respectively with a pump pressure of 20 bar.
The increasing importance of protected cultures in the last decades has led to the definition of aims for greenhouse design and functioning, in order to conjugate productivity and environmental sustainability. In particular, the optimization of greenhouses is finalized to better solar radiation adsorption and ensure to the crops a homogeneous temperature field for the whole growth time. An Italian case study is presented in this paper: the studied farm needs to project greenhouse geometry and design a hot-water pipes heating system to cultivate basil during the winter season, improving the exploitation of natural resources. A simulative analysis has been carried out by mean of COMSOL Multiphysics software, investigating the effects of greenhouse height, number of pipes and water temperature of the heating system on the inside temperature field through a parametric sweep approach. Twenty-seven scenarios have been simulated and three of them have been considered suitable for the farm applications. The simulative approach allows to collect data about the minimum number of pipes, the sensitivity of the internal temperature field to the outside temperature fluctuation (referred also to the height of the greenhouse) and the more suitable heating water temperature needed to ensure the required habitat to the basil crops, minimizing also temperature fluctuations.
Agricultural crop management requires extensive and comprehensive tools that allow for a full knowledge of the crops’ status and growth dynamic. This study aims at estimating crop yield for maize and tomato crops over large areas at field scale. For this purpose, we developed a fully coupled model based on a parameter-saving crop growth model (Simple Algorithm For Yield estimates (SAFY)) with a water-energy balance model (Flash–flood Event–based Spatially–distributed rainfall–runoff Transformation- Energy Water Balance model (FEST-EWB)) with a double exchange of leaf area index (LAI) and soil moisture (SM) information. Both models are driven by remote sensing data and are calibrated independently from in situ measurements. Satellite LAI data are used to calibrate the crop growth model parameters, while the energy-water balance parameters are calibrated against satellite land surface temperature (LST) data. Multiple satellite data are used either at high spatial resolution (Sentinel 2 and LANDSAT 7 and 8) and at low-resolution (MODIS). Two Italian case studies are selected to test the model accuracy: the Chiese Irrigation Consortium (Northern Italy), mainly devoted to maize crop cultivation, and the Capitanata Irrigation Consortium (Southern Italy), where tomatoes are largely diffused. At local scale, LAI is reproduced for tomatoes with a mean RMSE of 0.92 and yield with a RMSE of 1.2 ton ha⁻¹; while for maize, a RMSE of 1 is found for LAI and a RMSE of 1.5 ton ha⁻¹ for yield. Results show an overall correspondence of daily soil moisture and evapotranspiration estimates with a RMSE in between 0.11 and 0.15 and of 1.3–3 mm, respectively. At the regional scale, LAI estimates show a RMSE around 1.1 for both case studies, while a RMSE of 13.4 ton ha⁻¹ is obtained for tomato yield and of 1.4 ton ha⁻¹ for maize.
Amylase/trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) are widely consumed in cereal-based foods and have been implicated in adverse reactions to wheat exposure, such as respiratory and food allergy, and intestinal responses associated with coeliac disease and non-coeliac wheat sensitivity. ATIs occur in multiple isoforms which differ in the amounts present in different types of wheat (including ancient and modern ones). Measuring ATIs and their isoforms is an analytical challenge as is their isolation for use in studies addressing their potential effects on the human body. ATI isoforms differ in their spectrum of bioactive effects in the human gastrointestinal (GI), which may include enzyme inhibition, inflammation and immune responses and of which much is not known. Similarly, although modifications during food processing (exposure to heat, moisture, salt, acid, fermentation) may affect their structure and activity as shown in vitro, it is important to relate these changes to effects that may present in the GI tract. Finally, much of our knowledge of their potential biological effects is based on studies in vitro and in animal models. Validation by human studies using processed foods as commonly consumed is warranted. We conclude that more detailed understanding of these factors may allow the effects of ATIs on human health to be better understood and when possible, to be ameliorated, for example by innovative food processing. We therefore review in short our current knowledge of these proteins, focusing on features which relate to their biological activity and identifying gaps in our knowledge and research priorities.
Modelling the structural effects of vertical displacement events (VDEs) on plasma facing components is critical for component integrity but can be time consuming. In early-stage design, a simple analysis method is useful to compare concepts. This paper describes methods that use the commercially available ANSYS software to obtain estimations of forces and torques on components arising from VDE induced currents and halo currents. The methods will be used to inform the design of in-vessel assemblies on Tokamak Energy Ltd's future machines.
Parasite biodiversity in cetaceans represents a neglected component of the marine ecosystem. This study aimed to investigate the distribution and genetic diversity of anisakid nematodes of the genus Anisakis sampled in cetaceans from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 478 adults and pre-adults of Anisakis spp. was identified by a multilocus genetic approach (mtDNA cox 2 , EF1 α − 1 nDNA and nas 10 nDNA gene loci) from 11 cetacean species. A clear pattern of host preference was observed for Anisakis spp. at cetacean family level: A. simplex (s.s.) and A. pegreffii infected mainly delphinids; A. physeteris and A. brevispiculata were present only in physeterids, and A. ziphidarum occurred in ziphiids. The role of cetacean host populations from different waters in shaping the population genetic structure of A. simplex (s.s.), A. pegreffii and A. physeteris was investigated for the first time. Significant genetic sub-structuring was found in A. simplex (s.s.) populations of the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea compared to those of the Iberian Atlantic, as well as in A. pegreffii populations of the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian Seas compared to those of the Iberian Atlantic waters. Substantial genetic homogeneity was detected in the Mediterranean Sea population of A. physeteris. This study highlights a strong preference by some Anisakis spp. for certain cetacean species or families. Information about anisakid biodiversity in their cetacean definitive hosts, which are apex predators of marine ecosystems, acquires particular importance for conservation measures in the context of global climate change phenomena.
Marine plastic pollution is one of the most concerning worldwide environmental issues, and research is day by day demonstrating its adverse effects on marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, little is still known about the toxic potential on marine fauna of chemical additives released by plastic debris. Here we investigated the cyto- and genotoxicity of the most used plasticizer in plastic production, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), on a skin cell line (TT) derived from the bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus ), a species particularly exposed to the accumulation of this lipophilic pollutant, being a coastal top predator rich in fatty subcutaneous tissues. Dolphin cell cultures were exposed to increasing DEHP doses (0.01–5 mM) to evaluate effects on cell viability, cell death, and induction of DNA damage. On the hypothesis that bottlenose dolphin cells show greater resistance to DEHP toxicity than terrestrial mammals, as already shown for other pollutants, the same parameters were analyzed on exposed Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines. Both MTT and Trypan Blue assays showed no significant decrease in dolphin’s cell viability after 24-h DEHP exposure. No induction of primary DNA damage was detected by the comet assay, whereas the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay revealed significant micronuclei induction and inhibition of cell proliferation starting from the lowest DEHP doses. DEHP had similar but sharper and significant effects on cell viability in CHO cells, also causing a much greater induction of necrosis than that recorded on dolphin cells. For both cell lines, the lack of induction of primary DNA damage (i.e., strand breaks) together with the increase of micronuclei yield after DEHP treatment suggests an aneugenic effect of the phthalate, that is, the loss of entire chromosomes during cell division. Overall, the potential chromosome loss detected could constitute a threat for species of marine mammals constantly exposed to plastic marine litter.
Neapolitan pizza, a renowned Italian food recognized as one of the traditional specialties guaranteed (TSG) by European Commission Regulation no. 97/2010, should be exclusively baked in wood‐fired ovens for approximately 90 s. Despite its extensive use in restaurants and rotisserie shops all around the world, such equipment has been very poorly studied thus far. The aims of this study were to characterize the operation of a pilot‐scale wood‐fired pizza oven from its start‐up phase to its baking operation and assess its thermal efficiency. To manage brick firing, the oven was lighted at a firewood feed rate (Qfw) of 3 kg/h for just 1 h on the first day, 2 h on the second day, 4 h on the third day, and approximately 8 h on the fourth day. Independent of its lighting frequency, after 4‐6 h, the oven vault or floor temperature approached an equilibrium value of 546 ± 53°C or 453 ± 32°C, respectively. The initial oven floor temperature gradient was linearly related to Qfw, while the maximum floor temperature tended to an asymptotic value of 629 ± 43°C at Qfw = 9 kg/h. The well‐known water boiling test was adapted to assess the heat absorbed by a prefixed amount of water when the pizza oven was operating in pseudosteady‐state conditions at Qfw = 3 kg/h. The thermal efficiency of this oven was 13 ± 4%, and this value was further confirmed by other baking tests with four different white and tomato pizza products. Although wood‐fired pizza ovens are largely used all over the world, little is known about their transitory and pseudosteady‐state regime performance. This study shows how to perform the start‐up procedure of pilot‐scale equipment and, independent of the operator's ability, how to achieve pseudosteady‐state conditions using different firewood feed rates. Finally, its thermal efficiency was assessed by water heating and pizza baking tests, which allowed a rough estimation of firewood consumption.
Critical Zone (CZ) science has developed in recent years, involving different disciplines that vary depending on the specific research focus. This multidisciplinary approach highlights the relevance of the Underground component of the Critical Zone (UCZ) in regulating the water cycle, which can influence the complex equilibrium of the whole CZ. In this study, we analyze evolution during the time of different parameters, characterizing the saturated and unsaturated parts of the UCZ of the Castelporziano Estate, a natural reserve located in a coastal area close to Rome. The purposes of these activities are to monitor the potential depletion of groundwater resources and understand the recharge mechanism processes characterizing the aquifer in the framework of occurring climate changes, net of anthropogenic pressure. The long-term analyses of water table variations carried out over the last 25 years, allowed us to preliminarily identify four different ranges of the slope coefficient of the water table, characterizing different areas of the Estate. Specifically, the Northern, Central, and Coastal areas have shown a general depletion trend in piezometric levels, while in the Eastern area, a positive trend has been recognized. Additional long-term analysis of piezometric level variations allowed us to confirm the presence of the four recharge areas and compare annual recharge and water table levels to assess the relationship between the saturated UCZ and meteoric recharge in the identified areas. To evaluate the role of the unsaturated UCZ in recharge mechanisms, the water content in the first meter of soil has also been analyzed, showing different responses of outcropping sediments in capturing rainfall during different periods of the year and under different rainfall input conditions, highlighting the pivotal role of rainfall for the Castelporziano UCZ, both for deep recharge of the water table and for feeding the forest roots. Stable isotopes confirm that Castelporziano UCZ feeding is strongly dependent on local meteoric recharge, also highlighting that evaporation processes are active in a limited way. The obtained results assess that the monitoring of UCZ has a crucial role in the correct preservation of more complex environmental systems, which include groundwater resources and the coastal Mediterranean forest.
A promising strategy for sustainably increasing the quality and yield of horticultural products is the use of natural plant biostimulants. In this work, through a greenhouse experiment, we evaluated the effect of a legume-derived biostimulant at three dose treatments (0.0 control, 2.5 mL L􀀀1, and 5.0 mL L􀀀1) on the yield performance, nutrients traits, leaf anatomical traits, gas exchanges, and carbon photosynthetic assimilation of greenhouse lettuce. The lettuce plants were foliar sprayed every 7 days for 5 weeks. The application of plant biostimulant, at both lower and higher dosages, increased the nutrient use efficiency, root dry weight, and leaf area. However, it is noteworthy that the 5.0 mL L􀀀1 dose enhanced photosynthetic activity in the early phase of growth (15 DAT), thus supplying carbon skeletons useful for increasing the number of leaves and their efficiency (higher SPAD), and for boosting nutrient uptake (P, S, and K) and transport to leaves, while the 2.5 mL L􀀀1 dose exerted specific effects on roots, increasing their dimension and enabling them to better use nitrate and Ca. A higher dose of biostimulant application might find its way in shorter growing cycle, thus presenting new horizons for new lines of research in baby leaves production.
A photochemoenzymatic halodecarboxylation of ferulic acid was disclosed using vanadate‐dependent chloroperoxidase as (bio)catalyst and oxygen and organic solvent as sole stoichiometric reagents in a biphasic system. Performance and selectivity were improved through a phase transfer catalyst, reaching a turnover number of 660.000 for the enzyme.
In this in vitro study, for the first time was evaluated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of an Oleuropein-enriched extract (OleE) on bovine mammary epithelial cell line (BME-UV1). OleE was obtained from olives leaves and characterized by HPLC and NMR analysis. Cell viability test indicated that OleE at concentrations of 7.8 up to 250 μg/mL did not exert cytotoxic effect. At concentration of 31.2 up to 250 μg/mL, a dose dependent reduction of ROS production induced by hydrogen peroxide was observed. In addition, OleE at 62.5, 125 and 250 μg/mL showed a dose-dependent reduction in gene expression of TNF, IL1B, and IL10 after exposure to LPS. The downregulation of ROS production and cytokines expression in BME-UV1 by OleE confirmed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In vivo experiments will be necessary for future applications of OleE as natural feed supplement in dairy cattle to reduce incidence of oxidative stress in peripartal period.
Species abundance distributions (SADs) link species richness with species abundances and are an important tool in the quantitative analysis of ecological communities. Niche based and sample based SAD models predict different spatial scaling properties of SAD parameters. However, empirical research of SAD scaling properties is largely missing. Here, we extracted percentage cover values of all occurring vascular plants as proxies of their abundance in 1725 10-m² plots from the GrassPlot database, covering 47 regional data sets of 19 different grassland and other open vegetation types of the Palaearctic biogeographic realm. For each plot, we fitted the Weibull distribution, a model that is able to effectively mimic other distributions like the log-series and lognormal, to the species–log abundance rank order distribution. We calculated the skewness and kurtosis of the empirical distributions and linked these moments, along with the shape and scale parameters of the Weibull distribution, to plot climatic and soil characteristics. The Weibull distribution provided excellent fits to grassland plant communities and identified four basic types of communities characterized by different degrees of dominance. Shape and scale parameter values of local communities on poorer soils were largely in accordance with log-series distributions. Proportions of subdominant species tended to be lower than predicted by the standard lognormal SAD. Successive accumulation of plots of the same vegetation type yielded non-linear spatial scaling of SAD moments and Weibull parameters. This scaling was largely independent of environmental correlates and geographic plot position. Our findings caution against simple generalizations about the mechanisms that generate SADs. We argue that, in grasslands, lognormal type SADs tend to prevail within a wider range of environmental conditions, including more extreme habitats such as arid environments. In contrast, log-series distributions are mainly restricted to comparatively species rich communities on humid and fertile soils.
Wood species identification and characterization of its weathering processes are crucial steps in the scientific approach of conservation of wooden cultural heritage. Many precious wooden objects of ancient Egypt are largely present in museums, nevertheless relatively little information is available concerning the nature of timber used and on their status of conservation. To address this gap, the wooden species of three relevant archaeological wood objects (statue, box, and coffin) arising from different Egyptian archaeological sites dated from the Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC) to New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC) were deeply studied. Five hardwood and softwood species were identified belonging to Tamarix mannifera, T. gennessarensis, Ficus sycomorus, Vachellia nilotica, and Cedrus sp. Such data confirmed the recurrence of Vachellia and Tamarix among the most common timbers found in ancient Egypt. Scanning Electron Microscope, Fourier Transform Spectroscopy, and Synchrotron x‐ray radiation diffraction were conducted to evaluate the archaeological wood deterioration. The formation of microcracks, biological degradation patterns (fungal colonization), or chemical characterization (accumulation of salts on and in‐between wooden cells) were detected. SEM micrographs showed the presence of fungal hyphae and conidial spores on the wooden cells. Significant changes in the chemical wood composition and decrease in the crystallinity index were detected.
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1,632 members
Pier Paolo Danieli
  • Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Gaia Vaglio Laurin
  • Department of Innovation of Biological Systems, Food and Forestry DIBAF
Simone Severini
  • Department of Agriculture and Forest Sciences (DAFNE)
Giovanni Chillemi
  • Department of Innovation of Biological Systems, Food and Forestry DIBAF
Alessandro D'Annibale
  • Department of Innovation of Biological Systems, Food and Forestry DIBAF
Information
Address
via S. Maria in Gradi 4, 01100, Viterbo, Italy
Head of institution
Prof. Stefano Ubertini
Website
www.unitus.it/