19 July 2019

Dental decay and flavoured water

A laboratory study published in the International Journal of Environment and Health looks at the effects of flavoured mineral water drinks and sugar substitutes on the exogenic erosion of tooth enamel. Given that many more people drink flavoured sugar solutions today than ever before, there is the likelihood of an emerging dental crisis. However, the switch to sugar substitutes might not be the answer to this problem, the researchers suggest.

Anna Lewandowska and Marzena Joanna Kuras of the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland investigated several drinks available in Poland. They considered pH, titratable acidity and the concentration of phosphorus in the various flavoured mineral waters on the market. They also used solutions of xylitol, erythritol, stevia, and glucose-fructose to see what effect such sweeteners have on exogenous erosion of tooth enamel in the laboratory, with a view to understanding how that might affect dental health in the outside world.

Both flavoured mineral water and sweeteners tested in this study cause exogenous erosion of enamel according to the results of phosphorus released from hydroxyapatite,” the team explains. It is worrying that they discovered that “The erosive potential of the tested sugar substitutes concerned as beneficial for our health was similar to the glucose-fructose syrup.”

The team adds that “replacing glucose-fructose syrup with another sweetener has no beneficial effect on the exogenous erosion,” Indeed, “Any type of sweetener enhances the exogenous erosion potential of the solution [because of the drink’s] low pH.

Lewandowska, A. and Kuras, M.J. (2019) ‘The impact of flavoured mineral water drinks and sugar substitutes available on the Polish market on exogenic erosion of teeth enamel – in vitro study: preliminary results‘, Int. J. Environment and Health, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.213-223.

18 July 2019

Research pick: Maturing social media analysis - "ocial media analytics: a tool for the success of online retail industry"

Online social media analytics is a powerful tool to boost e-commerce, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics. Ogunmola Gabriel Ayodeji and Vikas Kumar of the School of Business Studies, at Sharda University, in Greater Noida, India, explain how social media apps and websites are almost ubiquitous in the lives of many people around the world now. There are more active members of some of these services than there are people in even the most populace of nations.

Businesses can instantaneously share information with their customers and clients. But, the greatest benefits to the commercial world can only come if those businesses are fully aware of how their social media presence sits within the wider context and how their customers and future customers are affected and interact with the online presence of that business.

The team explains how there are different phases of the social media analytics process and that this has to become integrated with the companies’ online retail strategy. The paper discusses the challenges and the opportunities.

“SMA metrics for customer life-cycle (acquisition to enhancement) are discussed, the team writes. They then make a comparative analysis of different analytical tools to identify which can be used to the best advantage in the online retail environment. The team points out that the tools are still in their infancy, whether free or paid and proprietary. They must be developed further to allow the approach to online retail to mature.

Ayodeji, O.G. and Kumar, V. (2019) ‘Social media analytics: a tool for the success of online retail industry‘, Int. J. Services Operations and Informatics, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.79-95.

17 July 2019

Research pick: Is Peak P a problem? - "Is phosphorus really a scarce resource?"

Chemists and materials scientists have been worried about the elements for many years. Some precious metals are, by virtue of their very nature, hard to come by. They are found in remote reserves and often in places with interesting politics that might preclude access to those resources for some companies. Other non-metal elements, such as helium are also dwindling. Ultimately, we may run out of some elements on which we rely for modern electronics and computing systems and the cooling for the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging MRI) machines, in the case of helium. Another element around which the alarm bells are ringing is the critically important phosphorus which is essential for agriculture.

Writing in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, a team from Germany asks the important question: Is phosphorus really a scarce resource?

They explain that this is a QTWAIN – a question to which the answer is no – phosphorus abundant. However, the extraction of more than 90 percent of the supply is not feasible with current technology and economic and political limitations. In 2007/2008 there was a price spike in this commodity that triggered a debate around the notion of “peak P” just as we have had with “peak oil”. The team argues that the peak P crisis was one of economics and politics rather than an actual scarcity of the element, or more specifically, the mineral from which it might be extracted to be used in agricultural fertilizer manufacture.

The team adds that better recycling and management practices are already in hand to sustain phosphorus so that for the foreseeable future there is no need to consider peak P or any other claims as a crisis. Indeed, recycling phosphorus could actually become more economically viable than acquiring and processing virgin resources.

Köhn, J., Zimmer, D. and Leinweber, P. (2018) ‘Is phosphorus really a scarce resource?‘, Int. J. Environmental Technology and Management, Vol. 21, Nos. 5/6, pp.373-395.

16 July 2019

Research pick: Using geothermal to cool your home - "Thermodynamic analysis and assessment of a geothermal cooling system for a house"

Geothermal energy can be used to sustainably keep a house cool in notoriously hot parts of the world, thanks to the design of a new cooling system by researchers in Italy and Turkey. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, the team explains how their vapour absorption chiller (VAC) was designed to meet the cooling demands of a 140 square metre, detached family home in Izmir, Turkey.

Hot geothermal fluid from deep beneath the house is transported to the VAC in which water and ammonia are used as an absorbent and a refrigerant, respectively. The system runs at temperatures of 30, 90, and 2 degrees Celsius at the condenser, boiler, and evaporator. The system runs at an equivalent of about 4.5 kilowatts based on cooling load calculations.

Under optimal conditions, the team estimates that costs would be offset by electricity saved running a conventional air-conditioning unit within six and a half years. This takes into account an up-front estimated cost of US$3500. Moreover, the use of sustainable energy to drive the system means a greatly reduced carbon footprint.

It is critical as we face rising global average temperatures and sharply rising local temperatures because of anthropogenic climate change, that we find alternative, sustainable ways to keep people cool in their homes without simply burning more fossil fuels to generate electricity to do so.

Ozcan, B., Aykurt, I.E., Akpak, M., Tacer, T., Yildirim, N., Hepbasli, A. and Ozcan, H.G. (2019) ‘Thermodynamic analysis and assessment of a geothermal cooling system for a house‘, Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 29, Nos. 2/3/4, pp.350-369.

12 July 2019

Research pick: Medical drones for accident and emergency - "Drone transportation cost analysis for emergency medical products"

Remote or computer-controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as “drones” could revolutionize the way in which emergency medical supplies, such as bags of blood plasma, are delivered to areas hit by disaster, accidents or other life-threatening situations. Of course, drones are costly and require skilled operators. Writing in the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management, a team from the USA has undertaken a cost analysis of using drones for this purpose.

The team hoped to show that the delivery of emergency supplies using drones is economically viable in the context of road-traffic accidents. By looking at a range of scenarios where drones might be used the team’s cost analysis supports their hopes, especially as the timely use of drones rather than ground vehicles could ultimately be a matter of life and death. Their particular focus could readily be generalized to other emergency situations given adequate additional data and the construction of appropriate scenarios for other types of emergency.

The team’s analysis focused on two locations in Florida, one near Tampa, the other near Orlando. Both areas have at least one fatality every week due to a road traffic accident and so an improvement in the medical response in those areas could have a significant impact on total lives lost each year in the state. Of course, a road traffic accident will inevitably increase the level of congestion on already congested road networks and make it more difficult for paramedics and ambulances to reach the accident quickly. The use of drones could allow equipment and supplies to get to a site where paramedics may well have arrived on a motorbike, for instance.

Poudel, S.R., Chowdhury, S., Marufuzzaman, M., Bian, L., Mudbari, M. and Pradhan, G. (2019) ‘Drone transportation cost analysis for emergency medical products‘, Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.251-282.

11 July 2019

Research pick: Machine learning about glaucoma - "A new intelligent system for glaucoma disease detection"

Untreated glaucoma is a major cause of sight loss. There are several forms and they are all essentially caused by damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure within the eye. A collaboration between scientists in Algeria and Belgium has led to a new “intelligent system” for glaucoma detection that promises to help diagnose the condition sooner rather than later and allow patients to be treated in a timely manner and their sight saved.

Mohammed El Amine Lazouni and Amel Feroui of the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, at Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen University in Tlemcen, Algeria and Saïd Mahmoudi of the Computer Science Department at the University of Mons, in Belgium discuss their approach in detail in the International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology.

Technically, glaucoma originates from an increase in the intraocular pressure (IOP). In the healthy eye, the aqueous humour behind the cornea is maintained in equilibrium with and equal quantity of liquid being discharged by the eye and this region refilled with fluid continuously. However, in glaucoma the rate of flow of liquid out of this cavity is slower than the flow into the space and the pressure within rise, putting damaging pressure on the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form but another condition called normal tension glaucoma can be just as debilitating. Closed-angle glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. The most common form causes no pain, but gradually leads to damage of one’s peripheral vision and ultimately the whole field of vision, causing complete blindness.

The team’s approach involves one of the standard tests for the early stages of glaucoma measuring the ratio of cup to disc measurements of the retina. Machine learning built on a database of these ratios allows an early diagnosis for a new patient to be made very quickly and accurately, almost 9%%. Such accuracy would allow the ophthalmologist to make a much more precise estimate of glaucoma risk for their patient.

Lazouni, M.E.A., Feroui, A. and Mahmoudi, S. (2019) ‘A new intelligent system for glaucoma disease detection‘, Int. J. Computer Aided Engineering and Technology, Vol. 11, Nos. 4/5, pp.613-633.

10 July 2019

International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development to invite expanded papers from ARTEM OCC conference 2020 for potential publication

Extended versions of papers presented at the ARTEM OCC conference 2020 (19-21 March 2020, Chemnitz University of Technology in Chemnitz, Germany) will be invited for review and potential publication by the International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development.

Research pick: Text messaging to Whatsapp – Early adopters and inertia

Text messaging remains an important means of electronic communication for many people requiring only the simplest connection to the cell phone network. Nevertheless, other more sophisticated tools such as Whatsapp are increasingly prevalent given their multimedia capabilities and the near ubiquity of smartphones and almost universal wireless broadband connectivity in major towns and cities and beyond. Julian Bühler and Markus Bick Chair of Business Information Systems at the ESCP Europe Business School Berlin, Germany, ask what influences how quickly such technologies are adopted in different parts of the world and how the novel displaces the old.

Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, the team has looked at the use of text messaging and Whatsapp and how these have a cultural impact on mobile commerce in two countries: the United Kingdom and Russia. Fundamentally, the team found, the expectations of users in the UK are higher than those in Russia when interacting with mobile commerce sites. This is particularly true of user expectations for hedonic services. It seems, however, that social surroundings actually play a minor role in the user decision-making process. UK users are often early adopters especially in the hedonic sphere seeking out new technology whereas Russian users maintain inertia with the initial services and systems and stay with them in the long term. When Russian users do change they are eager and keen to try out all the new functionality of a service.

The team suggests that their findings have implications for how companies hoping to introduce new technology and services might assess the putative market. They should introduce the service in the UK first as a testing ground for early adoption and move to the Russian market if the UK proves enthusiastic.

Bühler, J. and Bick, M. (2019) ‘From text messages to WhatsApp: cultural effects on m-commerce service adoption in the UK and Russia‘, Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.441-464.