On October 17–18, 2023, RoKoCon was held at the Robert-Koch-Institute in Berlin, providing a platform for a knowledge exchange in terms of scientific findings that have an influence on climate change, public health and the environment. ATB scientists Shahsharif Shaikh and Aleksandra Atanasova won runner-up for best presentation and best poster.
Shahsharif Shaikh , scientist in "System Process Engineering" at ATB, demonstrated his process of testing the suitability of diamond-like coatings (DLC) and additives in terms of improving lubrication and possibly aiding in mitigating the consequences of climate change.
Lubrication is always important when talking about machinery, engines or any kind of mechanical system where parts are (constantly) moving, as it ensures that everything is running smoothly and prevents excessive wear and tear. Better lubrication could also im-prove agricultural devices such as tractors, robotic applications, irrigation systems and more… Shahsharif Shaikhs work aimed on “Reducing impact of climate change by using sustainable lubricants and next generation coatings”.
He ran tribological experiments where wear and tear, friction, and lubrication were tested in combination with either DLC coatings doped with rare earth metals or pure DLC coatings with added liquid additives in the lubricant. The experiments were conducted under different conditions, as they were run at different temperatures, starting at 60 degrees and going up to 100 degrees. Thus, DLC coatings and pure DLC coatings (especially in high-temperature boundary lubrication conditions) could be compared directly with each other.
The experiments proved that doping DLC coatings with metal enhances the interaction with the lubricant and therefore decreases the friction altogether.
In relation to mitigating the consequences of climate change, enhanced lubrication through applied coatings could overall improve the efficiency of machinery and decrease friction by almost 50%. This would also entail a reduced loss of energy when the systems are running and ensure a smoother run, which would prolong the life of the system and therefore increase its sustainability and save energy.
In agriculture, the results of the research could be applied to machinery like tractors, plows, and combiners. Other than machinery, it could also be applied to sensors to maintain a smooth operation or to systems like irrigation systems for maintenance (e.g.).
Aleksandra Atanasova is a PhD student in "Sensors and Modelling" at ATB. Her approach to improving public health health is to mitigate or even eliminate the transfer of antimicrobial resistance, which is being spread by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Infections from those bacteria cannot be treated the usual way, and that creates problems for public health. As a part of the project ENVIRE, which investigates the transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from chicken farms to humans through the environment, she focused on chicken manure treatment.
Chicken manure is a valuable nutrient source for plants and crops and is therefore a commonly used fertilizer, but it also potentially spreads antibiotic-resistant bacteria. She set the focus on two processes: anaerobic digestion and composting, as both were considered processes with the highest practical relevance in fertilizer production in this study.
Parameters such as temperature, moisture and pH were investigated over the course of the study in both processes to find out whether anaerobic or aerobic fermentation as a manure treatment works best in reducing resistant bacteria.
With her awarded poster “Assessment of treatments to reduce the amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chicken manure” she presented that overall, anaerobic digestion is considered the more effective way to eliminate antimicrobial-resistant bacteria since anaerobic conditions are not beneficial for the growth and development of most bacterial cultures.
However, composting, the common process for the production of fertilizer, is easier to handle. If parameters are changed and different substrates are added to the mix, the process could easily be changed, thus providing wider variability to the process.
In conclusion, the elimination of antibiotic resistance is possible through both processes, but anaerobic digestion is overall the more effective one but not the easier one.
Altogether, we congratulate them on their success at the conference and thank them for representing ATB at RoKoCon 2023.