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  1. Abstract

    Researchers have made headway against challenges of increasing cement infrastructure and low plastic recycling rates by using waste plastic in cementitious materials. Past studies indicate that microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) to coat plastic in calcium carbonate may improve the strength. The objective of this study was to increase the amount of clean and contaminated waste plastic that can be added to mortar and to assess whether MICP treatment enhances the strength. The performance of plastic-filled mortar was investigated at 5%, 10%, and 20% volume replacement for cement. Untreated, clean plastics at a 20% cement replacement produced compressive strengths acceptable for several applications. However, a coating of MICP on clean waste plastic did not improve the strengths. At 10% replacement, both MICP treatment and washing of contaminated plastics recovered compressive strengths by approximately 28%, relative to mortar containing oil-coated plastics. By incorporating greater volumes of waste plastics into mortar, the sustainability of cementitious composites has the potential of being improved by the dual mechanisms of reduced cement production and repurposing plastic waste.

  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  3. Abstract

    Approximately 10% of flowering plant species conceal their pollen within tube-like poricidal anthers. Bees extract pollen from poricidal anthers via floral buzzing, a behavior during which they apply cyclic forces by biting the anther and rapidly contracting their flight muscles. The success of pollen extraction during floral buzzing relies on the direction and magnitude of the forces applied by the bees, yet these forces and forcing directions have not been previously quantified. In this work, we developed an experiment to simultaneously measure the directional forces and thorax kinematics produced by carpenter bees (Xylocopa californica)during defensive buzzing, a behavior regulated by similar physiological mechanisms as floral buzzing. We found that the buzzing frequencies averaged about 130 Hz and were highly variable within individuals. Force amplitudes were on average 170 mN, but at times reached nearly 500 mN. These forces were 30–80 times greater than the weight of the bees tested. The two largest forces occurred within a plane formed by the bees’ flight muscles. Force amplitudes were moderately correlated with thorax displacement, velocity and acceleration amplitudes but only weakly correlated with buzzing frequency. Linear models developed through this work provide a mechanism to estimate forces produced during non-flight behaviors based on thorax kinematicmore »measurements in carpenter bees. Based on the buzzing frequencies, individual bee’s capacity to vary buzz frequency and predominant forcing directions, we hypothesize that carpenter bees leverage vibration amplification to increase the deformation of poricidal anthers, and hence the amount of pollen ejected.

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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  5. The ability of a natural ice-binding protein from Shewanella frigidimarina (SfIBP) to inhibit ice crystal growth in highly alkaline solutions with increasing pH and ionic strength was investigated in this work. The purity of isolated SfIBP was first confirmed via sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and size-exclusion chromatography with an ultraviolet detector (SEC-UV). Protein stability was evaluated in the alkaline solutions using circular dichroism spectroscopy, SEC-UV, and SDS-PAGE. SfIBP ice recrystallization inhibition (IRI) activity, a measure of ice crystal growth inhibition, was assessed using a modified splat assay. Statistical analysis of results substantiated that, despite partial denaturation and misfolding, SfIBP limited ice crystal growth in alkaline solutions (pH ≤ 12.7) with ionic strength I ≤ 0.05 mol/L, but did not exhibit IRI activity in alkaline solutions where pH ≥ 13.2 and I ≥ 0.16 mol/L. IRI activity of SfIBP in solutions with pH ≤ 12.7 and I ≤ 0.05 mol/L demonstrated up to ≈ 66% reduction in ice crystal size compared to neat solutions.