Research Picks – August 2017

Clearing the way

Wax deposited in well bores and pipelines is a major problem for the oil industry, resulting in waste material, blockages and overall loss of production. A team in India has now developed a novel solvent system that can quickly dissolve such wax deposits and get the oil moving freely again. Their final formulation was based on tests with 12 different solvents and three commercial dispersants. The optimal mixture could dissolve wax to between 72 and 83% of initial mass within three to six hours at ambient temperature, the team reports. This implies enormous potential for recovering solidified wax and opening up pipelines.

Banerjee, S., Kumar, S., Mandal, A. and Naiya, T.K. (2017) ‘Design of novel chemical solvent for treatment of waxy crude‘, Int. J. Oil, Gas and Coal Technology, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp.363-379.

Securing the IoT

The internet of things (IoT) is a far more complicated technological beast than the internet itself as it carries within it so many disparate devices, sensors and other technology that are not usually considered to exist within the world of computers. Environmental monitors, remote-controlled thermostats and windows, connected household goods such as refrigerators and washing machines and a whole range of industrial devices are but a fraction of the total IoT. As such there are many vulnerabilities in such an electronic ecosystem where malicious software might intrude and thence break through into other more critical systems higher up the system and compromise data and infrastructure. Researchers in China have now proposed a new trusted architecture that might preclude entry by many forms of malware attack and so make the IoT more secure at the fundamental level.

Cong, P., Ning, Z., Xue, F., Liu, H., Xu, K. and Li, H. (2017) ‘Trusted connection architecture of Internet of Things oriented to perception layer‘, Int. J. Wireless and Mobile Computing, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.224-231.

Bioremediation of nitrate

The presence of nitrate in waste water and water resources is one of the most pressing pollution problems of the modern era. Much of the polluting nitrate is from agricultural fertilisers and can lead to toxic algal blooms as well as contaminating drinking water. Various techniques are available for removing nitrate from water including ion exchange, biological denitrification, chemical denitrification, catalytic denitrification, reverse osmosis and electrodialysis. Now, a team in India have demonstrated that bioremediation using a fluidised bed biofilm reactor (FBBR) could be the most effective method of denitrification and the technology should be adopted where severe nitrate ingress into waterways and aquifers is a significant problem because of intensive agricultural practices.

Burghate, S. and Ingole, N. (2017) ‘Bio-removal of nitrate from wastewater by FBBR‘, Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.281-296.

Management agency and ventriloquism

Without communication there is no organization. However, our lives, both personal and in business are guided and nudged by dominant narratives that we do not necessarily see. Researchers in Denmark writing in the European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management hope to remedy that situation and render the invisible visible and to reveal the counter-narratives that exist in society.

Lundholt, M.W. (2017) ‘Fabric of counter-narratives: agency and ventriloquism‘, European J. CrossCultural Competence and Management, Vol. 4, Nos. 3/4, pp.316-325.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.