(Last update: 27th June 2017)
The scientific research deals with topics concerning the impact provoked on the environment from sources of anthropic origin.
The research started at the Department of Industrial Chemistry “Toso Montanari” of the University of Bologna, is going on dealing with different research topics, relevant to the effects on the environment due to production and transformation technologies, and, more generally, to the quantitative determination of anthropogenic impacts on the environment. The different subjects can be subdivided in:
1) Waste Management and sustainability parameters of industrial processes and products: application of LCA – Life Cycle Assessment methodology to Municipal Solid Waste treatment processes, to identify critical steps from an environmental point of view; feasibility study on recycling and reuse processes aimed at the minimisation of environmental impact; application of eco-design concepts to industrial products.
2) Assessment of the sustainability of chemical processes, from a life cycle perspective.
3) Mass Flow Analysis (MFA) applied to critical elements or materials, to determine input and output flows, in-use stocks, and scenarios of future availability.
4) Integrated Environmental Monitoring System applied to the impact produced by industrial processes: description of methodological approach, definition of analytical procedures and of chemometric data treatments and application to different case studies referring to the activity of solid waste treatment plants.
5) Study of the influence of atmospheric contamination on Cultural Heritage decay: damage analysis and study of the correlation with air pollution.
During the PhD (at the University Ca' Foscari of Venice), the research has been focussed on the analysis of micropollutants present in the ecosystem of Venice Lagoon, with a particular investigation on the heavy metals in sediments, and on the toxicological effects associated to different concentrations.
The research on Integrated Waste Management (municipal and special solid waste) is the main activity. It consists in the analysis of flows at territorial or national levels; waste composition and physico-chemical analysis, aimed at a a more efficient valorization; survery on innovative treatments and assessment of experimental technologies. Potential partners of the research can be public institutions, for the formulation of waste management territorial plans, and private companies, interested in recovering different categories of discarded products and in identifying the added value deriving from their valorization. A particular interest has been recently devoted to the recycling and recovery of End of Life Vehicles (ELV) and WEEE (Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment).
The research on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) consists in the application of this approach to processes (for instance, waste incineration) or to products (e.g., materials deriving from recycling processes), in order to determine the environmental impact of present or innovative technologies, compared to those considered the best ones now available. This approach is now considered at international level as the most thorough assessment to plan a sustainable resource consumption, which both supply chains and institutions must deal with, for the best management practice.
The same approach (LCA) is applied also to the assessment of environmental sustainability concerning new chemical processes, in line with eco-design and Green Chemistry principles, also in collaboration with other research groups of the same department or of other universities.
The Integrated Environmental Monitoring System is an approach aimed at determining how a point or diffuse pollution source can affect a limited territory, by means of the sampling and analysis of different matrices: those coming from the process (e.g., atmospheric emissions) and environmental ones (air, soil, biomonitors, etc.). The procedure starts with a deep knowledge of matter and energy balance, and continues with the identification of the areas most affected by contamination, applying a dispersion model of pollutants; then, monitoring stations are chosen according to their significance (distance from contamination source, higher or lower fallout); environmental matrices are sampled (depositions, atmospheric particulate, soil, biomonitors); environmental indicators are chosen, which could be easily referable to the studied event, in order to estimate the differences in concentration in the various samples. An Environmental and Human Health Risk Analysis integrates this approach, for some of the pollutants monitored. The elaboration of data coming from the environmental monitoring is performed by means of chemometric methods (principal component analysis, factorial analysis, similarity analysis, neural networks), aimed at distinguishing the contribution of the different sources to the global contamination in the investigated sites. In particular, the analysis of historical data seriesconcerning macro-parameters (sulfate, nitrate, cloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, ammonium ions and pH) e micro-pollutants (heavy metals), in atmospheric depositions at a territorial scale, is studied both to understand natural and anthropic contributions to the pollution in the sampling site, and to determine possible exceedances with respect to Critical Loads calculated for different areas (agricultural, urban, forest, etc.).
As for the research on the interaction between atmospheric pollutants and some materials constituting our cultural heritage, the aim is to study the correlation among the processes of decay, which different materials undergo in outdoor conditions, and the level of environmental contamination. In particular, the corrosion of outdoor bronzes, the processes of degradation of bronzes exposed to natural and synthetic acid rain, the artificial ageing of materials (by dropping or alternate immersion - wet&dry) are investigated; the study of the atmospheric corrosion of Cor-Ten is also in progress.