Climate and socio-cultural changes are major ongoing concerns in our modern societies, their impacts on past populations are also central to understand the evolution of the human species, its resilience, and its capacity to adapt to new environments. 8200 years ago, the Mesolithic populations (hunter-gatherers) from Portugal faced a climatic event that profoundly changed their environment in a similar way to what is expected to happen in the next decades. In addition to these challenges, they were also confronted with the arrival of migrating Neolithic populations introducing farming, plant and animal domestication, and sedentism, gradually leading to the disappearance of the hunter-gatherer nomadic way of life. MUGE project aims to unveil the life story of the last hunter-gatherers from the Tagus valley (Muge village) in Portugal and to understand whether the environmental, and socio-cultural changes during the Late Mesolithic (ca. 8200-7100 cal B.P.) impacted the composition and health of these past populations. Discovered 150 years ago and representing the largest European anthropological collection for the Mesolithic (more than 250 individuals), humans from Muge are still poorly studied from a biological perspective because of the state of preservation of the skeletons. Cutting-edge imaging techniques will allow us to correct the taphonomic alterations and go into great detail in the analysis of skeletal remains, providing crucial information about the biological profile of the individuals (age-at-death, sex, etc.), the structure of the populations, and their health status. With more than 1000 years of occupation, Muge furnishes an ideal skeletal sample for exploring changes in health status through time and between sexes, adults, and non-adults but also between sites and understand the impact of each change on these populations. This project is the first to combine both palaeodemographic, palaeopathological, and palaeoimaging approaches to the Muge populations.
The aim of this grant is to establish a world leading research centre focusing on developing a radically different way to generate clean energy from algae. GREEN will deliver a self-sustainable bioenergy generator, with an output power of the order of W/m2 that is at least 100 times larger than current state-of-art bioenergy generators. The unprecedented enhancement in output power finally breaks the power scalability barrier for bioenergy generators and in this way delivers impact on the world’s renewable energy research trajectory. I have recently discovered that a population of diatoms, a form of algae, communicate in a cooperative manner and produce long lasting large magnitude electrical oscillations. The discovery has been made possible through my recent breakthrough - I have developed a large area and low impedance transducer to record cooperative communication in cells. My idea is to harvest the generated electricity from the algae. Using 2D electrodes, the output power is µW/m2, which is low. However, the power increases with the density of diatoms adhered to the electrode and with the electrical coupling of the cells to the electrode. By going from a 2D to porous 3D electrodes, and by optimizing the coupling an output power of W/m2 is within my reach. To deliver the new bioenergy generator, it is essential to understand 1) which materials and 3D electrode geometries comprise larger cell densities and enable a more efficient charge transfer from the living organisms to the electrode 2) which organisms provide the higher output powers, and 3) how the electric circuitry will be developed to store and deliver the generated power. This multidisciplinary research will advance the state-of-the-art by delivering a prototype for a new green self-sustained energy harvester, suitable for power scalability, through realising technological advances in 1) electrochemical electrodes, 2) cooperative signalling mechanisms in algae and 3) energy harvesting circuits.
Liquid3D proposes bioinspired electronics and machines that are soft, resilient, self-healing, shape-morphing, and fully recyclable. Functional sensing/acting/processing/energy cells will be 3D printed using a series of game changer Liquid Metal based composites. As a result, we will print futuristic soft electronics that sense and interact with humans or the environment. This provides an excellent design freedom to scientists for manufacturing complex “living” electronics, while guaranteeing that any possible product coming from these inventions will be Resilient, Repairable, and Recyclable. I expect that over 80% of microchips, and metals in the printed circuits, can be recovered. Liquid3D redefines the electronics, by rethinking the materials, fabrications, and design architectures. These objectives are feasible, thanks to the recent breakthroughs that I made to the field: First; discovery of the biphasic (liquid-solid) composite based on Gallium-Indium Liquid Metal (LM), that allowed the first ever method for room temperature printing of stretchable circuits; and second, a method for inclusion of microelectronics into ultra-stretchable circuits through self-soldering, self-healing, and self-encapsulating of LM-Polymer composites. With Liquid3D I will develop fundamental understanding, and mathematical modelling of biphasic systems, and develops novel room temperature printable composites with sensing/acting/energy storage properties, and methods for recycling them. I will investigate novel forms of implementing truly 3D electronics, with distributed functional cells. Liquid3D intends to fundamentally rethink, the concept of electronics, as we know today. From rigid and brittle to soft, resilient and repairable; From polluting to recyclable; from battery dependent to self-powered; from 2D to truly 3D; It proposes a radically new way of making “greener” electronics. With Liquid3D I aim to establish the world leading centre on recyclable, and green electronics.
With 162,000 tons/year, Portugal and Spain have the largest world quota of cork production, being cork stoppers for wine and champagne the “star product”. About 90% of the cork stoppers used worldwide are produced in these two countries. The European Cork Federation established mandatory practices to ensure the quality of the natural stoppers which include several washing, bleaching and disinfection steps. These procedures generate large volumes of wastewaters up to 195,000 m3/year that contain non-biodegradable organic matter, hydrogen peroxide used as disinfectant and different dissolved salts; and constitute a serious risk to environment and human health. The E-CORK project builds on the premise that cork washing wastewaters can be effectively treated by electrochemical advanced oxidation processes. The main goal is to develop an optimized electrochemical treatment line for the depuration and reutilization of cork washing wastewaters taking advantage of the hydrogen peroxide in the main effluent (from by-product to reactant), attending not only to the treatment performance, but also to its technical, economic and environmental feasibility. With this approach and bearing in mind the possibility of reuse the regenerated wastewaters, the E-CORK project aims to revolutionize the cork industry towards a circular economy. The inherent responsibility of Portugal and Spain R&D to promote cleaner and more cost-efficient technologies that safeguard cork production and aquatic environments; the close link with the industrial needs; and the experience of the candidate and supervisor at University of Coimbra, make the perfect conditions to successfully develop this project.