The ultrastructure of pecans was investigated using light microscopy, environmental scanning electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. Specific methodology for the sample preparation of pecans for electron microscopy investigations was developed. Electron microscopy of the ultrastructure of opalescent (discoloration of the interior) and nonopalescent kernels revealed that cellular damage was occurring in opalescent kernels. The damage was due to cell wall and membrane rupture, which accounted for the release of oil throughout the kernel. This rupture is due to the lower level of calcium in the cell membranes of opalescent pecans, as shown by energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry, making them more susceptible to damage.
Water treatment plants (WTP) in the City of Manaus, Brazil, generate tons of sludge daily, which are then disposed of in landfills and main watercourses, particularly two important Amazonian Rivers: the blackwater Negro River and the pale sandy-colored water Solimoes River. Because WTP-based sludges are rich in silicon and aluminum, they have been employed in the synthesis of geopolymers - alkaline activated inorganic polymers consisting of silicate and aluminosilicate chains. This paper reports the results of a geopolymeric synthesis process in which calcined sludge was explored as a source of silica and alumina. In this research, a laboratory testing program was developed to characterize the waste material generated from a water treatment plant in Manaus, whose intake water is influenced by the above referred rivers. Sample preparation involved kiln drying at 110 degrees C for 8 h, grinding in ball mill for 2 h, and calcination at 750 degrees C for 6 h. The calcined sludge was used as precursor, and potassium hydroxide added as activating alkali. Two geopolymers, one from each sludge source, were prepared following identical procedures. The chemical, compositional, morphological, thermal and mechanical properties of the fresh and hardened geopolymers were characterized. The geopolymers reached uniaxial compressive strengths of over 50 MPa at 28 days. Calcination conveyed more refined properties to the sludge-based geopolymers, akin to metakaolin-based geopolymers. The results presented herein support the technical feasibility of geopolymer synthesis in the lab scale.