Day: 4. September 2023

2023/08 China leads use of geothermal energy with 38% of global

China’s direct geothermal energy use will reach 40.6 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2020, accounting for 38% of the world’s total, making it the largest in the world for several consecutive years. China’s geothermal energy heating and cooling area is 1.39 billion square meters, with an average annual growth rate of 23% over the past five years. Why is geothermal getting so much attention? According to industry insiders, it has to do with its wide distribution, large reserves, stability and reliability, and remarkable carbon emission reduction benefits. The distribution of energy resources in China usually has regional bias. For example, the northwest is rich in coal, wind, and solar energy resources, while the south is rich in water resources. In contrast, geothermal energy is widely distributed and the process of using it emits almost no carbon. The goal of “double carbon” (peak CO2 emissions and carbon neutrality) has brought clean geothermal energy into the spotlight. Two examples were provided: At the China Petroleum & Chemical Industry Group Green Energy Corporation Talent Jiayuan Heat Exchange Station in Xiong County, Xiong’an New District, Hebei Province, the heat exchange station is located underground. It does not have a large site area, but it guarantees a winter heating supply for the more than 3,000 households in the complex. At this heat exchange plant, geothermal water is pumped up by submersible pumps, sand is removed by desander, and heat is exchanged in plate heat exchangers. In other words, the heat from the high-temperature underground water is extracted and used as a heat source for winter heating. The thermal energy obtained from the geothermal water is sent to each household through pipes. At China Petrochemical Green Energy Geothermal Energy Development Corporation, shallow geothermal energy is used instead of air conditioning for cooling. There are about 280 shallow pit holes about 120 meters deep under the green areas and roads in the complex, and the underground thermal energy is transported by pipes to exchange cold and heat between water and underground rock bodies through the action of heat pump units. In winter, the heat from the rock is extracted and used to heat the rooms. In the winter, the heat is extracted from the rock body and used to heat the rooms, and the underground rock body serves as the heat source in this process. In summer, the indoor heat is extracted and released into the rock to produce cold water at a temperature of about 11°C. A circulation pump then sends the water to a fan for circulation. Geothermal energy can be used in different stages based on different temperatures. Taking Yadu County, Dali City, Yunnan Province, as an example, where medium- and high-temperature geothermal energy is abundant, geothermal energy below 45°C can be used to develop the healthcare industry, such as hot springs and bathing; between 45 and 60°C can be used for heating; and around 60 to 90°C, energy after heating use can be used for greenhouse cultivation. On the other hand, geothermal energy above 90°C can be used for clean power generation. The higher the temperature, the more effective and economical the power generation.   Photo shows the heat exchange station located at the Hebei Xiong’an New District Innovation Center Intermediate Test Base.

China’s T1000 carbon fibres achieve mass production A technical appraisal meeting presided over by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation was held on August 20, and China-made ultra-high-strength ZA60XC (T1000) PAN carbon fiber 1000 ton-class industrial production technology passed the technical appraisal of the expert committee. The expert committee stated, “This achievement has reached the world’s top level. Among them, the precursor structure design and representation analysis technology lead the world, and the appraisal was unanimously passed. Carbon fiber is known as the “gold of industry” and the “king of new materials.” With its high strength, high Young’s modulus ratio, corrosion resistance, fatigue resistance, and high temperature resistance, carbon fiber is an indispensable strategic material in such fields as aerospace, national defense and military industry, transportation, new energy, and marine engineering. For a long time, the most core advanced technology of carbon fiber, especially the technology for large-scale mass production of ultra-high-strength carbon fiber, has been monopolized by developed countries. According to Changsheng Technology officials, the demand for carbon fiber and its composite materials is rapidly increasing with China’s economic and social development. China’s carbon fiber production has gone from near zero to accounting for one-third of global production by 2022. Most production capacity, however, remained at the T300 and T700 levels. High-end T800 products lacked quality stability, and ultra-high-performance carbon fiber products above T1000 had only 100-ton-level technological achievements, and large-scale and stable production at the 1000-ton level could not be realized. After more than two years of research and development, in which Changsheng Technology was in charge and Shenzhen University cooperated, a production line with an annual capacity of 1,700 tons was able to stably produce T1000 products. According to inspections, its performance has reached the level of comparable products in the world, with a product quality acceptance rate of more than 95.6%.

Major TCM hub pushes for standardized herb cultivation LANZHOU, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — Under the scorching sun in Dongjiabao Village in the heartland of Gansu Province, northwest China, Yan Baiping, 38, is busy weeding his traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) crops. Yan’s TCM herbs are thriving thanks to the region’s growing emphasis on standardized cultivation methods, which promotes eco-friendly cultivation and innovative pest control techniques, thereby reducing the usage of fertilizers and pesticides. China has been promoting the standardized green cultivation of TCM herbs to meet market demand for high-quality, high-yield herbs that adhere to these standards. A decade ago, due to poor cultivation practices, Yan struggled with lower herb quality and reputation, as well as price pressure from buyers. Over the last 10 years, he has embraced green standards, joining a local demonstration base for TCM herb cultivation. Under the Good Manufacturing Practice standards established by leading local pharmaceutical companies and expert guidance, his yields increased. The government also provides organic fertilizers as subsidies annually. Last year, various favorable policies saw Yan earn over 30,000 yuan (about 4172.5 U.S. dollars) from 0.33 hectares of TCM herbs. This year, he expanded the field to nearly 2 hectares, anticipating an income increase of over 30,000 yuan. Gansu is a major base for the production and supply of TCM raw materials. In 2022, 1.47 million tonnes of TCM herbs were produced in Gansu, ranking among the top nationwide, and 55 percent of them were cultivated using standardized methods, local statistics showed. Longxi County in Gansu benefits from a unique natural climate that is exceptionally suited for the growth of various TCM herbs. To maintain quality, Longxi allocated over 30 million yuan annually for standardized cultivation. At present, 23,300 hectares of the county’s 33,300 hectares of total TCM herb planting areas have adopted standardized green cultivation, said Wang Wei, director of the county’s office for TCM industry development. On Thursday, the fourth China (Gansu) Traditional Chinese Medicine Industry Expo kicked off in Longxi. Many attendees highlighted that the continuous promotion of standardized cultivation will provide a solid foundation for the inheritance and innovation of TCM in China. Yu Yanhong, head of China’s National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said during the expo that authorities are rapidly formulating documents to promote the high-quality development of the TCM industry, while enhancing technological research and development throughout the entire industry chain. “To enhance the standardization of TCM herb cultivation, China is focusing on improving the quality of herbs from the source and advocating for a comprehensive quality tracing system across the entire chain, thus, enhancing the core competitiveness of the TCM industry,” Yu said.

UNICEF partners with China to pilot climate-resilient WASH technologies in Cambodia PHNOM PENH, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Delegates from China and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday started a three-day field visit to Cambodia to conduct a feasibility study for piloting climate-resilient water and sanitation (WASH) technologies and solutions in the kingdom, said a UNICEF’s press statement. The Cambodia-China Climate-Resilient WASH Cooperation Project is part of the South-South cooperation program between the two countries and UNICEF, the statement said. “The feasibility study mission to Cambodia aims to leverage Chinese expertise on solar-powered water supplies, water purification and fecal sludge treatment in urban and rural areas to help identify gaps in technology and infrastructure,” the statement said. UNICEF Representative to Cambodia Will Parks said the Children’s Climate Risk Index ranks Cambodia in the top third of nations facing high risks to the impacts of climate change, and that children are highly exposed to water scarcity, riverine flooding, and vector-borne diseases, among others. “We are grateful to the People’s Republic of China and UNICEF China for their support in implementing innovative, climate-resilient responses that build sustainable environments for the most vulnerable communities,” he said. In Cambodia, one in four people in rural areas still lack access to improved water resources and sanitation, presenting risks to public health, hindering development and resulting in water resource contamination risks, according to the statement. “UNICEF China is working closely with our partners to promote international cooperation on children’s rights and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Acting UNICEF Representative to China Nenad Radonjic said. “This collaboration between Cambodia and China is a good example of how we can act as a facilitator for knowledge exchange and technical cooperation in the sector of WASH, climate and the environment, to help address common and critical challenges facing children globally,” he added.

Joint archaeological work along ancient Silk Road XI’AN/ALMATY, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — Ding Yan gives the pottery fragments a few swipes with his brush and examines them with his expert eye. They have been buried for thousands of years at the Rahat site in Kazakhstan, but now the dirt is being removed and the details revealed. This site was home to an ancient civilization that thrived on the Silk Road at the northern foot of the Tianshan Mountains. It is some 3,000 km from Ding’s usual workplace in Xi’an, capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, but this has not impaired his enthusiasm for the work here. Despite the language barrier and the differences in natural environment and living conditions, he feels at home among the brushes, hand shovels and pottery shards with their unique earthy smell. Ding will be working at the site for the next three months. “We will carry out the excavation work together with our colleagues in Kazakhstan, to understand the distribution and changes of archaeological culture in the early Iron Age in the middle reaches of the Ili River,” he said. In Xi’an, Wang Jianxin, another scholar who has engaged in joint archaeological work under the Belt and Road Initiative for a long time, is busy preparing for an international academic conference. Wang, a 70-something chief scientist with the Collaborative Research Center for Archaeology of the Silk Roads, has a full schedule. After the international academic conference, Wang will travel to Uzbekistan to participate in joint expedition and academic exchanges with archaeologists from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Xi’an, a city founded more than 3,100 years ago, served as the capital for 13 dynasties in Chinese history, including the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when the city was known as Chang’an. This is also the place where Zhang Qian began his journey to the Western regions via Central Asia during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) as an envoy. Zhang’s pioneering expedition opened up a route that later became the Silk Road. In recent years, a number of Chinese scholars have set out from Xi’an to explore the cultural relics of the ancient Silk Road, together with scholars from countries along the Belt and Road. Wang began his archaeological and research work on the ancient Silk Road at the end of the 20th century. After 10 years of archaeological excavation and research on the Silk Road in China, he felt an urgent desire to do the same overseas. “Only by mastering more comprehensive first-hand information can Chinese scholars bring a ‘Chinese voice’ to the international archaeology community,” said Wang. Zhang traveled to the Western regions in search of the ancient nomads called Greater Yuezhi, who had migrated west to Central Asia after being defeated by the Xiongnu people, an alliance of nomadic tribes also known as the Huns. Since 2009, Wang has followed in Zhang’s footsteps, leading an archaeological team from Northwest University to Uzbekistan to carry out joint archaeological work along the Silk Road. For more than 10 years, Wang’s team has been conducting explorations in Central Asia, and has formed a joint archaeological team with professionals from Uzbekistan. They have made a series of finds, including a batch of settlements of ancient nomadic and agricultural cultures in the western Tianshan Mountains. At the Rahat site, the joint archaeological work carried out by Chinese and Kazakh scholars has also yielded fruitful results. Since 2017, the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology and the State Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve “ISSYK” have formed a joint archaeological team to carry out archaeological investigations and excavations at the site and others nearby. Archaeologists from China and Kazakhstan first conducted investigations and trial excavations at the Rahat site, and then cleaned up and excavated the remains of tombs, ash pits and ditches, unearthing a large number of relics, including ironware, stone tools and pottery pieces. Gulmira Mukhtarova, director of the State Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve “ISSYK,” has also been participating in the work at the Rahat site. “From the unearthed relics, we can observe the traces of people’s lives along the ancient Silk Road, which will help us study the site in depth and make an important contribution to the historical research in this area,” said Mukhtarova. The flow of expertise is not all in one direction, according to Mukhtarova. Eight Kazakh scholars have traveled to China to participate in archaeological excavations and exchange experiences there. In April, the General Assembly of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia was held in Xi’an. A joint declaration on cultural heritage protection in Asia was issued at the assembly. According to the declaration, the alliance members will carry out collaborative archaeological projects on themes such as the origins of civilizations and the Silk Road, and make a joint declaration on world heritage. Also in Xi’an, China and five Central Asian countries reached a series of agreements on cooperation at the China-Central Asia Summit held in May, including cooperation in conducting joint archaeological and cultural heritage protection and restoration. The cooperation has not only yielded fruitful results in terms of archaeology, but has also fostered goodwill and enthusiasm that have been appreciated by Chinese archaeologists working overseas. “Local people say ‘Nihao’ (hello in Chinese) and smile at us, and government officials give the thumbs-up sign to the archaeological experts from China,” said Wang. “The joint archaeological work carried out within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative is of great significance,” said Mukhtarova. “We and the Chinese archaeologists have learned from each other in our excavation practice, bringing successful experience for Belt and Road people-to-people exchanges.”

Severe human bottleneck during the Early to Middle Pleistocene transition Changes in prehistoric population size reflect changes in climatic environments during that period, and thus retrospectively through population genetics research methods can provide a deeper understanding of the formation of modern humans. The available fossil record suggests that the last one million years was a critical period of human evolution, but the study of human population history is mostly confined to the last 300,000 to 100,000 years. Although ancient DNA sequencing technology has developed rapidly in recent years, it is not possible to extract ancient DNA from 300,000-year-old African human ancestor fossils due to hot conditions that are not conducive to DNA preservation.Therefore, this study analyzes the genomes of modern populations through the new theory of population genetics and explores the history of populations that existed millions of years ago. Although there was no written record of group size in prehistory, effective group size affects the rate of ancestry tracing in each generation, that is, the probability that two lineages came from the same ancestor in the previous generation. Thus, human ancestors had left imprints in the group genome reflecting the group size at that time. The older the group, the weaker the imprinting signals that remain to this day. In order to accurately interpret these signals, and thus accurately estimate human population history millions of years ago, researchers have created a new theory of population genetics and computational biology, the Fast Very Small-Time Ancestry FitCoal. Following the mathematical derivation of this theory, this work obtains an analytical solution for the expected value of the length of the ancestry dendrites corresponding to each mutation type (i.e., the mutation frequency spectrum) under an arbitrary population model, as well as the exact likelihood of the probability of observing a sample mutation spectrum under population history conditions. As a result, FitCoal can quickly and automatically search for the maximum likelihood value without prior knowledge of the group history, thus estimating the group history and conducting a “census” of ancient human populations. The accuracy of an analytical method can be judged by setting up a true model and analyzing the DNA polymorphism data generated by the simulation, measuring the unbiasedness and 95% confidence interval of the estimated group history. The population history estimated by FitCoal is not only unbiased, but also has smaller confidence intervals than the PSMC, Stairway Plot and SMC++ methods that are commonly used in the field today. The study further analyzes population histories under different conditions, including population mingling and natural selection, through extensive computer simulations. The results all show that FitCoal can accurately estimate human group history over millions of years. Based on FitCoal, the study further analyzed genomic data from a total of 50 modern human populations generated by the Thousand Genomes Project and the HGDP-CEPH Genome Project, and found for the first time that 930,000 years ago, the human ancestor almost became extinct due to the dramatic climatic changes in the Early and Middle Pleistocene transitions that resulted in the loss of about 98.7% of its individual members in a short period of time. The average number of adult individuals over a period of 117,000 years was only 1,280, and two independent data sets from the Thousand Genomes and HGDP-CEPH yielded nearly identical valuations of this group size, 1,270 and 1,300, respectively.This average valuation represents the upper limit of the minimum group size during the ancient group bottleneck, taking into account natural fluctuations in group size. The study was further validated using two southern African groups from the HGDP-CEPH dataset. Although the sample sizes were only six and eight individuals, FitCoal still detected the teleost population bottleneck. The results of the resampling of the African populations show that FitCoal can detect this ancient population bottleneck with the genomes of only three African individuals, further demonstrating that computational biology innovations have made this discovery possible. This severe ancient population bottleneck coincides with the missing link in the fossilized African human ancestor, the disappearance of the Homo erectus fossil, the formation of a new lineage of Archaeopteryx species (LCA), and the fusion stage of the two Archaeopteryx chromosome 2s. Further, this suggests that severe group bottlenecks during the Early and Middle Pleistocene transition had a critical impact on human evolution and may have determined the formation of many key phenotypes of modern humans. At the same time, the attenuation of population size during this ancient period reduced the genetic diversity of 65.85% of modern populations, with profound impacts on human life and health. The study was led by the Institute of Nutrition and Health and East China Normal University, in collaboration with the University of Rome, Italy, the University of Florence, Italy, and the University of Texas, USA.

CAS QIBEBT: core–shell Au@Nanoplastics as a quantitative tracer to investigate the bioaccumulation of nanoplastics in freshwater ecosystems The Industrial Biogas Research Center of CAS Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Process Technology has developed a method for the controlled synthesis of polystyrene core-shell model plastics (Au@NPs) for the quantitative detection of plastics. The surface charge and particle size of the nanoplastic can be regulated by the initiator and reaction time.With six environmental matrices (seawater, lake water, sewage, waste sludge, soil, and sediment), the recovery of Au@NPs from different environmental media was explored. The results showed that the recovery rates of Au@NPs all reached more than 80% , and also showed excellent resistance to different environmental factors in 1% hydrogen peroxide solution, simulated gastric fluid, acid as well as alkali. On this basis, the researchers applied the synthesized core-shell Au@NPs to the study of environmental behavior of NPs in freshwater system and found that different properties of Au@NPs could produce corresponding ecotoxic effects on cyanobacteria and duckweed, and the content of NPs in various parts of the organisms was quantitatively analyzed by ICP-MS, and the scattered-light imaging technique of confocal laser scanning microscope observed that the core-shell Au @NPs distribution in the organism, realizing the effective monitoring and analysis of NPs-related environmental behaviors.

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