From garbage to alternative fuels: how to organize waste recycling in Astana?

From garbage to alternative fuels: how to organize waste recycling in Astana?

February 27, 2019

Scientists at NLA say that 30% of municipal solid waste in Astana could be recyclable, and another 10% of municipal solid waste potentially could be sorted to derived solid fuel for the city’s energy needs. These figures were obtained by a research group studying landfills in Astana for opportunities to obtain energy fuel from solid domestic waste.  

“A lot of solid waste is disposed of on a daily basis, we wanted to explore if some of this waste could be processed as fuel to meet the municipal needs of the city, specifically, we were interested in the production of  heat during the winter season,”- said the  senior project manager, PhD Yerbol Sarbassov.

In the course of the experimental process, samples of the treated fuel were co-fired in a fluidized bed unit to study the combustion parameters with and without coal.

The researchers of the Laboratory of Green Energy and the Environment, National Laboratory Astana and the School of Engineering, NU concluded that the dry combustible residue from solid waste can be disposed of in two ways: by pyrolysis to produce syngas or co-firing in fluidized beds. The second option would be more effective for use in the small district boiler houses of Astana.

Scientists said that the composition of garbage varies, depending on the area of ​​export.  Thus they are extremely optimistic, emphasizing that the disposal of solid waste in Astana will have a positive impact on the ecological situation in the city, as well it will help to increase the service life of sanitary landfills for the disposal of solid waste.

NLA researchers are investigating the influence of the quality of the human microbiome on the development of age-related dementia

NLA researchers are investigating the influence of the quality of the human microbiome on the development of age-related dementia

February 18, 2019

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive memory loss, drastic changes in personality and behavior, and in the latter stages the patients are unable to carry even simple daily activities. There is evidence that AD might be associated with bacteria residing in our intestine. In this regards, researchers from Nazarbayev University have begun studying the composition of the intestinal microbiome of patients diagnosed with AD. Similar studies are being conducted in the United States and in China.

As part of our study, samples of intestinal flora were collected from elderly people diagnosed with AD and mentally healthy individuals. ‘We are looking for a correlation between the composition of intestinal microflora and AD, as a potential marker for early diagnosis of this disease’ – reports Sholpan Askarova, a Leading researcher and the Head of the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, National Laboratory Astana.

Until recently, it was believed that intestinal microbiome is involved in processes such as fermentation of carbohydrates, synthesis of vitamins, xenobiotic metabolism occurring exclusively in the intestines, and acts as a barrier to pathological bacteria. However, over the past 15 years, the functions of the intestinal microbiome have been revised. A direct relationship has been established between density and the composition of intestinal microflora with the development of a number of pathologies such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, which, in turn, are known risk factors for the development of AD.

It has been established that age, lifestyle, diet as well as place of residence play a big role in intestinal microfloral composition – comments Almagul Kushugulova, Leading researcher and the Head of the Laboratory of Human Microbiome and Longevity, National Laboratory Astana.

Data obtained from the study of laboratory animals suggest that bacteria that colonize the intestine can negatively impact the function of nerve cells and contribute to the development of AD. Clinical studies conducted at Chongqing Medical University (China) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (Wisconsin Alzheimer’s disease Research Center, USA) confirm these findings.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the incidence of age-related dementia worsens every year and projects that by the year 2050 there will be a three-fold increase in the number of AD patients. AD affects approximately 10% of people aged between 65-75 years and 32% of the elderly aged 80 years and above. There is currently no accurate data in Kazakhstan on the number of elderly people suffering from dementia. However, based on the world statistical data and considering the population of Kazakhstan, it can be stipulated that not less than 200 000 elderly people could suffer from age-related dementia.

NLA launched a new system for genomic research and bioinformatics problem solving

NLA launched a new system for genomic research and bioinformatics problem solving

February 12, 2019

Scientists of  NLA  launched the first high-performance bioinformatics computing platform in Kazakhstan for dealing with “big genomic data” and solving problems in the field of bioinformatics.

– This platform uses “Qazaq symphony of bioinformatics” or Q-Symphony and other optimized bioinformatics methods to analyze large-scale human genomics data, to detect specific structural genomic variants, and to conduct complex comparative and population analysis. Previously it took up to two months to process one computational task, but now with Q-Symphony, it takes about seven days to complete this process! – commented Ulykbek Kairov, Leading researcher, Head of the Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Center for Life Sciences, National Laboratory Astana.

For scientists and the research community of Kazakhstan, the data obtained using Q-Symphony will serve as the foundation for creating a reference database of genomic variants of Kazakh individuals and will have further applications in analyses of comparative population genomic variants described in the scientific literature. This computing platform makes it possible to more effectively apply the reference database of genomic variants in biomedical practice in order to evaluate new genetic variants in healthy individuals and patients with different pathologies within the Kazakh population.

In addition, this data can be used in medicine to improve the identification of diseases and select appropriate treatments.   It is essential for medical professionals to understand all that they can about the genomic characteristics of the population because the presentation of diseases and the efficacy of different drugs can be related to genetics.  This work can clarify the diagnosis of a patient with unclear etiology associated with human genetics, and can also be used in personalized medicine to identify genetic predispositions and prevent possible risks of developing pathologies, as well as to assess the effectiveness of different drugs depending on the patient’s genetic features.

The Q-Symphony system consists of four main nodes: an input or control node, a memory node, a network of computing nodes combined into one, and a storage node. All nodes are connected by a high-speed data exchange network Infiniband with a capacity of 100 Gb/s. The total capacity of computational nodes is 172 cores, 3072 GB of RAM and 198 TB of data storage.

Q-Symphony uses a special data caching system, with a volume of 3.2TB, which increases the  computational speed of  input-output data for individual tasks. The data is automatically transferred to regular disk drives. Moreover, the monitoring system provides convenient transparent display of resource loading and task execution in 3D visualization mode.