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- Brazil's nuclear industry option
The mid-1950s saw the advent of nuclear industries with the first radiological research centre in Brazil and today the country has four research reactors and two nuclear power reactors in operation as well as eleven fuel cycle facilities. Researchers writing in the International Journal of Nuclear Energy Science and Technology, explain that nuclear power represents about 3 percent of output but this in no way represents the full potential of nuclear in the country. This is particularly poignant given that Brazil has the seventh largest reservoirs of the nuclear starting material, uranium.
One of the obstacles that the team of Vitor Fernandes de Almeida, Luciana Sampaio Ribeiro, Edilaine Ferreira da Silva, Anna Flávia de Freitas Valiante Peluso, Nathália Silva de Medeiros, and Amir Zacarias Mesquita of the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) in Minas Gerais, see in changing this situation is that the general population has little comprehension of the nuclear industry, which, of course, is the case in many other parts of the world. As such approval when sought is often met with misunderstandings and misconceptions.
Given that the nuclear industries could have an important role to play in addressing climate change as well as their ongoing role in medically important radiopharmaceuticals and diagnostics, there is a pressing need to understand the level of understanding among the public to allow the nuclear industries in Brazil to mature further. Greater understanding of such issues usually leads to greater approval and the team's evidence suggests that this is the case in the situation. However, the perceived negatives often receive greater attention in the media and on social media than the benefits of the nuclear industries, often being equated with weaponry and environmental harms.
The team suggests that clear and accessible information about the benefits and the limitations of the nuclear industries is needed if the general public is to accept the paradigm. Opening up visitor centres for adults, improving educational input, as well as endeavouring to drive a positive message across social media could all be done to benefit the nuclear industry and reduce unwarranted prejudice without compromising integrity and being accepting of the limitations.
"Public acceptance of nuclear power and radiation applications are important for the government, the major stakeholder of the industry because consensus is required to drive actions," the team writes.
de Almeida, V.F., Ribeiro, L.S., da Silva, E.F., de Freitas Valiante Peluso, A.F., de Medeiros, N.S. and Mesquita, A.Z. (2020) 'The current public acceptance in Brazil of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes', Int. J. Nuclear Energy Science and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.328–338.
- Predicting and controlling dioxins
Dioxins are a group of toxic and persistent environmental pollutants. These compounds are formed through a variety of processes but commonly through incomplete combustion of organic matter. Levels are usually monitored in industrial settings for safety reasons using offline laboratory analyses that are carried out periodically. New work published in the International Journal of System Control and Information Processing offers an emission concentration estimate from soft measurements that utilises a deep forest regression algorithm.
Such an approach could offer a better approach to dioxin monitoring allowing a profile of emission concentrations to be seen almost in real-time in a way that periodic monitoring cannot. As such, this might allow optimal control of the processes to reduce the risk of noxious emissions. The team has validated the predictions made by the trained algorithm with data from a typical industrial process, municipal solid waste incineration, which is well known as an important potential source of dioxins in many places. Their approach provides a rather accurate prediction based on input parameters for the known data from an incinerator.
Municipal solid waste is increasing by up to ten percent annually across the globe. Moreover, given that practical recycling is not possible in many of the world's cities at any meaningful level, waste incineration represents one of the only pragmatic ways of addressing this growing problem. But, the issue of pollution must also be addressed if incineration is not to cause more problems than it solves. Of course, the heat generated by municipal waste incineration can itself be put to good use in heating local buildings or generating electricity.
Jian, T., Heng, X., Junfei, Q. and Zihao, G. (2021) 'Soft measurement of dioxin emission concentration based on deep forest regression algorithm', Int. J. System Control and Information Processing, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp.208–228.
- COVID-19 dynamics across India
New research published in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, has looked at the non-pharmautical interventions that were used during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rohit Sindhwani, Venkataramanaiah Saddikuti, and Omkarprasad S. Vaidya of the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, explain that the exponential thread of a potentially lethal infectious disease requires a strong response from those in authority if the impact is to be limited in any way. The team has modelled the response and effects of the pandemic on ten of the worst affected states in India to see if there are any state-specific dynamics. The modelling gives them a dynamic reproductive number for the virus and its spread. Such dynamics might offer clues as to how best to deal with re-emerging waves of infection or the development of a future pandemic. Importantly, the team's study reveals the importance of understanding the heterogeneities that exist between different places, which can help to highlight what measures are useful and what measures fail.
At the time the work was undertaken, the strongest message that is offered is that in terms of non-pharmaceutical interventions, regular personal testing and self isolation, social distancing, and ongoing personal hygiene measures, such as wearing a face covering and hand-washing should be continued. Critically, it is important to identify super-spreaders and to counter the impact they might have on the development of new waves of infection.
Given that India is the second most populous country in the world, it is important for a huge number of people that science understands very clearly how pandemics unroll across the sub-continent. There are, of course, implications for its citizens, its near neighbours, and the whole world.
Sindhwani, R., Saddikuti, V. and Vaidya, O.S. (2021) 'Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Indian states during lockdown: incorporating heterogeneity and non-pharmaceutical interventions', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp.490–521.
- Up-converting for Super SloMo video
Research published in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, points to several approaches that might be used to up-convert Super SloMo video files with deep learning offering improvements in final quality. The methods described offer a way to convert a video with a lower number of frames per second to be converted to one with a higher number of frames per second.
Minseop Kim and Haechul Choi of the Hanbat National University in Daejeon, Republic of Korea explain how a training data set can be used to gain optimal results with Super SloMo boosting signal-to-noise ratio significantly. Super SloMo is a deep learning-based frame rate up-conversion (FRUC) method proposed by graphics hardware company NVIDIA. The current team's approach works with this and can preclude flickering effects when displaying video that does not match the quality of the display itself by creating frames between frames using the techniques of artificial intelligence. This allows a more natural up-conversion to be carried out whereas earlier approaches can successfully reduce flicker but look unnatural. The new approach avoids the negative impact that can be seen when a bad motion vector is used to add frames.
The team trained the system with thousands of videos showing various moving objects of different sizes. The large objects dataset contained more than 50000 images of basketball, soccer, volleyball, marathons, and vehicles. The dataset with small moving objects contained more than 50000 images of golf, badminton, table tennis, and tennis. A similar-sized dataset of both large and small objects was also used.
"The results of training by object size shows that the performance was improved in terms of peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) and the mean of the structural similarity index (MSSIM) in most cases when the training set and the validation set had similar properties," the team reports. Specifically, "The experimental results show that the two proposed methods improved the peak signal-to-noise ratio and the mean of the structural similarity index by 0.11 dB and 0.033% with the specialised training set and by 0.37 dB and 0.077% via adjusting the reconstruction and warping loss parameters, respectively," the team writes.
Kim, M. and Choi, H. (2021) 'A high-quality frame rate up-conversion technique for Super SloMo', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp.512–525.
- Culture and social media
Research published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising has looked at how cultural differences affect behaviour on social media. Myron Guftométros and João Guerreiro Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, in Lisbon, Portugal, focused on what is perhaps the most well-known and well-populated online social network, Facebook. They used an organic approach to assimilate data from 6750 posts from 225 different Facebook brand pages across fifteen different countries.
The team categorized the engagement metrics such as the number of likes, shares and comments and the various versions of "likes" such as love, wow, and funny that can be used to tag an update. They then used Hofstede's cultural dimensions to analyse the data. The team found several interesting differences that could be explained by Hofstede's dimensions. For instance, countries that are considered low in individualism and/or high in power distance, share posts more than commenting on them. They also found that the use of the "funny" or "wow" emoticon responses instead of a standard "like" also related to higher scores on individualism.
Despite the reach of Facebook and other social media systems, globalisation and interconnectedness, people still retain and favour their own cultural values in different regions and across different groups within those regions. However, ongoing studies are still needed to discern whether the effects of globalisation are blurring cultural distinctions or not particularly in update and commenting activity on social media. The authors write that their work appears to be the first published based on real-world organically gathered data in the form of engagement metrics to analyse cultural differences.
The next step will be to look at cultural differences surrounding smaller, local companies, and also to extend the analysis of metrics to other applications, such as the microblogging site Twitter and the photo- and video-oriented Instagram. The researchers also find that their study poses several more questions that future research might answer: Does "loving" a post instead of "liking" it mean that there is a stronger brand relationship? Also, they ask, does responding with the "funny" or "wow" emoticon mean that customers are more engaged and interested in the posts? Of course, the bigger question is to learn whether these fleeting online sentiments actually reveal anything at all about a user or customer's actual feelings towards a given brand.
Guftométros, M. and Guerreiro, J. (2021) 'The effects of cultural differences on social media behaviour', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp.412–428.
- The COVID-19 response
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic governments, corporations and private companies, as well as not-for-profit organisations have tried to support public health in many different ways. A new report in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, has looked at what strategies appear to have worked in coping with this disease.
Amina Omrane of the ECSTRA Research Center at IHEC Carthage, University of Sfax, in Tunisia and Sudin Bag of Vidyasagar University in West Bengal, India, found that digital tools and technologies coupled with specific cultural responses have helped us face the pandemic in many ways. Their detailed findings point to how corporate management, government and state officials, as well as entrepreneurs, might learn from the current crisis how best to cope with the ongoing problems it brings as well as how we might successfully cope with a similar crisis in the future.
In late 2019, human health, security, and safety took a turn for the worse with the emergence of a novel and potentially lethal airborne coronavirus dubbed SARS-CoV-2, which causes a disease labeled COVID-19, as we all know. In March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic, which has proven to be the worst for many decades in terms of people affected and the number of deaths around the world that it has wrought.
There have been many different responses to the disease in different parts of the world, such as telecommuting mandates, lockdowns, and border controls, some more successful in some places than others. At the time of writing, we now have several vaccines available to some parts of the world population. There has also been significant blowback from those concerned with the societal and economic impact as opposed to the direct public health effects. Irrespective of the politic of such discussions, the pandemic has wreaked havoc in most parts of the world affecting everyone in one way or another. At the time of writing, the WHO reports that more than 4.6 million people have died of this disease.
There is now a pressing need to move forward with research in the biomedical, social, and business sciences to help us cope with the current ongoing problems we face and to ready ourselves for a future pandemic even before this one is over.
Omrane, A. and Bag, S. (2021) 'Which strategies are appropriate for the fight against the worldwide coronavirus crisis?', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp.416–430.
- Busting the problem of cloud cover
The downside to solar power is that it's not always sunny and so grid operators have to compensate for energy drops by bringing alternative generation sources online. New research in the International Journal of Powertrains, looks at how short-term forecast of sunshine using satellite images could offer one tool to help power companies maintain a steady supply.
A. Shobana Devi of the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, in Chennai, India and colleagues explain how solar irradiance forecasting currently represents a major challenge to companies hoping to integrate solar energy resources into the existing structures of energy supply. Fundamentally, it is the vagaries of changing cloud cover that compromise the power output of solar panels. However, it might be possible to compensate for the problem if there were a way to predict cloud movements within a fifteen to ninety-minute window throughout the day.
The team has developed an approach using the long short-term memory (LSTM) technique and tested it against known satellite imagery and the power output of a 250-megawatt solar plant to show that the predictions can be sufficiently accurate to allow grid operators to balance power output from solar and other sources. Their tests demonstrate that this approach is more accurate than other methods when tested against cloud cover data accumulated over a seven-month period. Statistical regression models allow them to assess the efficacy of the various models tested.
"The results of experiments verify and affirm that over current techniques, our suggested algorithms can considerably enhance the precision of cloud monitoring and solar energy estimation," the team writes. They add that "This predictive solar power data in the smart grid can be used efficiently for grid operation (load tracking) and energy management system."
Devi, A.S., Maragatham, G., Boopathi, K. and Prabu, M.R. (2021) 'Short-term solar power forecasting using satellite images', Int. J. Powertrains, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.125–142.
- AI for employee retention
Machine learning might be able to predict which employees within an organisation are readying themselves to leave the company for whatever reason. Research published in the International Journal of Data Science, explains how employee turnover costs organisations billions of dollars annually. Finding ways to improve employee retention might be guided effectively if there were a way to spot the trends in employee intentions ahead of their making any decision to move to a new position within another organisation, for example.
Owen Hall of the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, USA, points out that, as one might expect, engagement, job satisfaction, experience, and compensation are four of the most obvious factors that point to an employee's decision to leave when any combination of those factors fails to align with that person's aspirations and expectations with regard to their career and prospects.
Employee retention is a perennial issue for those working in human resource management. This has become even more acute during the COVID-19 where normal life and work practices have been changed beyond recognition in many areas of employment. Increased competition, more customer demands, and intensified recruiting and onboarding challenges, have never been of greater concern, it might be said.
Within HR, the understanding of employee turnover has generally been done in retrospect, perhaps long after specific employees have already moved on. A proactive stance is needed, which is where Hall suggests machine learning might be able to assist. "Machine learning can be used to both identify employees that are planning to leave and design specific implementation amelioration strategies," writes Hall.
Machine learning can do this with much less bias than might be experienced with human assessment of the situation as it unfolds in terms of employee intentions. Of course, engaging senior leadership is then required to mitigate against the loss of experienced and useful employees to opportunities elsewhere. Hall explains that "The results of a machine learning analysis featuring extreme gradient boost trees and neural nets of a representative employee database yielded classification accuracy levels on the order of 90%."
Hall, O.P. (2021) 'Managing employee turnover: machine learning to the rescue', Int. J. Data Science, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.57–82.
- Baking greener bread after COVID
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not squander the clean energy gains that were made through reduced human activity and economic downturn during the periods of lockdown and beyond. That is the message from recent research published in the International Journal of Global Warming.
Fatemeh Nadi of the Department of Agricultural Machinery Mechanics at the Islamic Azad University, in Azadshahr, Iran, and Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how during the ongoing pandemic, prices across the energy sector were pushed down by reduced demand.
As such, there may well have been a shortfall in investment into renewable energy projects in the short term during the current period and after the pandemic, they add. That said, at the time of writing this Research Highlight, there is already growing signs that point to price hikes across the energy sector as nations relieve restrictions and endeavour to unlock their economies once more.
The team has looked at one particular energy-intensive sector in Iran – bakeries. The Iranian baked goods industry is among the most energy-intensive in that sector across the globe with bread production amounting to an annual 15 million tonnes.
The team has developed three different scenarios that could lead to a 45% reduction in energy consumption across bakeries, a rate that amounts to well over 100 megajoules per tonne of produce per annum. Their approaches involving adopting wind power and biogas use in baking and in the growing of wheat and flour milling before that. They also suggest a potential greening of the sector amounting to a 70% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. They add that waste products and waste bread might be fed back into the production cycle for bioethanol for making requisite transportation greener too.
To conclude, the team writes how "Sustainability of the baking industry may be improved substantially through implementing three different scenarios: improving the flour production process from farm to factory, replacing fossil fuels with their renewable counterparts, and producing ethanol from the leftover bread." They add that "Such an improvement may be a major attempt toward protecting the clean energy gains of the pre-pandemic era."
Nadi, F. and Özilgen, M. (2021) 'Effects of COVID-19 on energy savings and emission reduction: a case study', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp.38–57.
- Hazardous goods in the smart city
The transportation of hazardous materials through densely populated areas, such as cities, is a necessary part of modern life, but comes with risks of spills and leaks, explosions, environmental issues, and public health concerns. New research in the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling, has used a transportation management simulation to look at problems that might arise in moving hazardous materials within a city when traffic congestion is common.
Luiz Antonio Reis, Sergio Luiz Pereira, Eduardo Mario Dias, and Maria Lídia Rebello Pinho Dias Scoton of the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo in Brazil explain how their simulation can be used to reduce risk and find optimal routes for the transport of hazardous materials. By suggesting ways that traffic might be better managed overall in a city, they also demonstrated how to improve city life. The advanced simulation system makes a huge contribution to reducing traffic jams and their consequences on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the team writes.
The team points out that Brazil's National Transport Confederation says that road transport is responsible for 61% of cargo transportation, and practically all of the dangerous cargo transportation in the country's urban areas. "Thus, the greater the control and standardisation of operating procedures for this type of transport, the better and safer it will be for society," the team writes.
As city infrastructure and control mature and we can begin to talk about "smart" cities, there is a pressing need to address the issues of real-world logistics and transportation which can succumb to the whims of real-world traffic and drivers and the incidents and accidents that plague them. To make use of the output from their simulation there is thus a need for greater control and traffic awareness and management in the urban environment.
Obviously, registered vehicles with hazardous cargos will be tracked continuously, but private and even commercial traffic will not other than through the closed-circuit television network and monitoring present on many roads and perhaps drone or helicopter surveillance of traffic congestion as it arises. As such, there need to be stronger connections formed between different stakeholder departments who might then share timely information and using the team's model be able to respond quickly to help avoid congestion issues and potential accidents involving, primarily, the hazardous cargos, but also the wider traffic base in a city.
Reis, L.A., Pereira, S.L., Dias, E.M. and Scoton, M.L.R.P.D. (2021) 'Traffic jam prediction using hazardous material transportation management simulation', Int. J. Simulation and Process Modelling, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.256–269.
New Editor for International Journal of Revenue Management
Prof. Wen-Chyuan Chiang from the University of Tulsa in the has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Revenue Management. The previous Editor in Chief, Prof. Jason C.H. Chen, will remain with the journal as Honorary Editor in Chief.
New Editor for International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics
Associate Prof. Jason Papathanasiou from the University of Macedonia in Greece has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics.
New Editor for International Journal of Product Sound Quality
Associate Prof. Jinyang Xu from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Product Sound Quality.
New Editor for International Journal of Internet Manufacturing and Services
Prof. Mitsuo Gen from the Fuzzy Logic Systems Institute in Japan has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Internet Manufacturing and Services.
International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Powertrains (ICAVP2021) a Success
The International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Powertrains (ICAVP), a biennial event since 2017, was initiated by the International Journal of Powertrains. ICAVP2021 took place over 3-4 September (hosted by Beihang University in Beijing, China), and the two-day conference was truly a success. More than 200 online and offline experts and scholars from China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries participated to discuss "dual carbon goals". Furthermore, the development status and future trends of cutting-edge technologies such as advanced motive power systems, electric propulsion systems and new energy vehicle technologies were also discussed.
The hybrid conference offered both in-person and global online attendance to address the pandemic situation. It was also broadcast globally via the internet for its prospective audience. 73 experts attended in person, over 143 attended online, and over 186,000 viewers viewed its free broadcasts.
The following broadcast links from ICAVP2021 will be available online for one year.
ICAVP2021 had five invited keynotes, ten invited technical reports from ten automotive companies, and 29 technical presentations from 32 accepted full papers. One BPA and two Student BPAs were awarded. The conference programme is available here.
Please refer to the above links for more detail information.