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Xjenza Online Vol. 7 Iss. 2 - December 2019
Xjenza Online Vol. 7 Iss. 2 - December 2019 ISSUE: Xjenza Online Vol. 7 Iss. 2 - December 2019


Xjenza: the key for a brighter future
Cristiana Sebu
A study to define the physicochemical characteristics of biochar from manure generated on 3 different livestock farms in Malta
G. Attard, D. G. Connell, A. Gruppetta, O. Fenech, F. Berti
Pages: 84 - 96
Abstract | View full article | PDF
The amounts of livestock manure produced in Malta surpasses the application rate as stipulated by the Nitrates Directive with the consequence of having an accumulation on farms. In such cases, manure becomes a liability instead of a benefit, incurring significant risk in creating environmental pollution. Pyrolysis of manure is an interesting alternative to land application, as it has the ability to render organic nitrogen into inert nitrogen gas and reduces manure biomass volumes. This technology utilises high temperature, thereby destroying any potential pathogens that may be present in the manure, has the potential of extracting useful energy and generates potentially high value products, e.g. biochar. The functions and application of biochar when used as a soil amendment to improve soil physical, chemical and biological properties depend on its structural and physicochemical properties. Such understanding is crucial for its sustainable use and application. Manure feedstock originating from large ruminant, small ruminant and poultry operations were subjected to a pyrolysis process at 570°C. The starting nitrogen (N) content was repartitioned into inert N2 (59%), whilst 38% was retained within the biochar structure. The biochar physicochemical properties relating to electrical conductivity (EC) values, the accumulation of zinc and the alkaline nature, render the application of this biochar on Maltese soils challenging. Alternatively, this biochar could be used as a solid fuel to dry the incoming manure biomass, and the resulting ash utilised to extract potassium and phosphorus.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2019.2.01
Environmental Effects on the Incidence of Spontaneous Pneumothorax
J. Galea, K. Grech, T. Parnis, L. Camilleri
Pages: 97 - 103
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Spontaneous pneumothorax (SP) is a common occurrence especially in young male asthmatics and smokers. Several studies have shown that this condition occurs in clusters although other reports showed the contrary. There is evidence that clustering of cases occur as a result of severe changes in atmospheric pressure. The literature is however very limited with regards to the relationship between air pollution and spontaneous pneumothorax. Methodology: Observational study on consecutive patients admitted with SP from January 2010 to December 2014. The data regarding dates of admissions, gender, age, residential address, smoking history, relevant medical history and sequential management of the pneumothorax were collected and tabulated. The admission dates were analysed to test for clustering of admissions of patients. The patients were identified by location to assess the incidence of SP in different locations or areas. The Environment and Resources Agency (ERA) of Malta supplied daily particulate data from 3 different sites in the archipelago for the years 2010-1014. Results: There were 112 patients presenting with 134 episodes of SP. The mean age was 29 years and 86.6% were males. No admission date clustering occurred and therefore linkage to atmospheric pressure changes cannot be made. There was however a very significant increase in incidence in patients hailing from the harbour area (p < 0:00001). ERA data shows that there was a similarly significant increase in particulate material in the air of the harbour locality when compared to non- harbour areas. Discussion and Conclusion: SP is commoner in men and smokers. There was no evidence of admission day clustering but areas with increased air particulate matter had an increased incidence of patients with SP. Increased air pollution seems to increase the incidence of SP either directly or indirectly.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2019.2.02
An augmented seismic network to study off-shore seismicity around the Maltese Islands: The FASTMIT experiment
G. Bozionelos, P. Galea, S. D'Amico, M. P. Plasencia Linares, M. Romanelli, G. Rossi, S. Parolai, A. Vuan, M. Sugan, M. R. Agius
Pages: 104 - 121
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Appropriate planning and deployment of a seismic network is a prerequisite to efficiently monitor seismic activity, determine the seismic source, and eventually contribute to the seismotectonic interpretation and seismic hazard assessment. The evaluation and effectiveness of a local network on the Maltese islands, recently extended by a further six seismic stations for one year, is presented. We investigate the new temporary network's data and site selection quality, utilizing spectral patterns in the seismic data and also evaluate the network's event location performance by relocating a number of recorded events. The results will be signifi cant for the future installation of permanent seismic stations on the Maltese islands.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2019.2.03
A new Council and direction for the Malta Chamber of Scientists
Gianluca Valentino
Pages: 122 - 122
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