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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Assessment of impacts of the emission reduction measures of short-lived climate forcers on air quality and climate in SE Asia  

PI: Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)
Co-PIs: Huang Xuan Co, Hanoi University of Sciences (HUS) Vietnam National University; Asep Sofyan, Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB); and
Nguyen Tri Quang Hung, Nong Lam University (NLU)
US Partner: Philip Hopke, Clarkson University
Project Dates: June 2012 - August 2016
Evidence to Action Supplement: July 2017 - December 2018

Project Overview

"Say No to Rice Straw Open Burning" is a summary of the project activities and results produced by Dr. Kim Oanh and the project team.

In Southeast Asia (SEA) the levels of strong short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) such as black carbon and tropospheric ozone have been reported to be high and increasing, which may have multiple effects on air quality, health, crops, and climate. SEA is also recognized as a major emitter of both air pollution and climate forcers in Asia, with several typical emission source types of importance such as agroresidue field burning, residential combustion, solid waste open burning, and small and medium industries. As yet, no comprehensive study has been conducted to explore quantitative links between the SEA source emission intensity and resulting air quality, the associated effects, and the climate impacts within the region and beyond. To meet the need for data and analysis on the topic, this project will bring together leading SEA and U.S. research groups to study air pollution – climate interactions. The project will involve assessment of the impacts of various mitigation measures of important SLCFs in the SEA region on air quality and climate using a co-benefit approach and will generate a scientific basis for policy recommendations to integrate air quality and climate policies.
The concrete objectives and planned activities of this project include a comprehensive emission inventory database of key air pollutants and climate forcers for major emission sources for SEA, development of action plans for emission reduction, and pilot scale emission reduction projects for the target sources in selected SEA countries. Two countries, Indonesia and Vietnam, were selected for the emission inventory and pilot scale projects. The target sources will be selected based on the results of the emission inventory and should have the potential to multiply, such as agroresidue field burning, solid waste open burning, and residential cooking. Realistic emission reduction scenarios will be developed and assessed using a modeling tool. Through its involvement of researchers from Vietnam, Indonesia, and the United States, the project should create new knowledge on the interactions between emissions, local and regional air quality, and regional climate as it promotes the development of a strong research network.
Summary of Recent Activities
(Note: Dr. Kim Oanh and her team completed their original PEER Cycle 1 project in August 2016. In July 2017, after a competitive review process, they were awarded a PEER Evidence to Action supplement to build on their previous efforts. As a side project associated with their work on their completed Cycle 1 project, the PI and her colleagues had received other funding to develop a technology for turning roped rice straw into pellets that could be burned in gasifier cookstoves. This would provide an alternative use for rice straw so that farmers would not just burn it in their fields. It would also provide economic/livelihoods benefits for those who would produce the pellets, as well as health benefits for people in the country and the entire region. The new technology acceleration supplement being provided through PEER will allow the team to improve the pelletizing machine as a prelude to mass production, test selected pellet/stove systems, collaborate with a Vietnamese company to create a prototype and mass production model, work to build farmers’ capacity to adapt to the technology, and explore a business model for sustainable mass production. Following is a summary of recent activities under the supplement.)

During the first quarter of 2018, the PI Dr. Kim Oanh reports that she and her team successfully adopted a prototype of pelletizing equipment and produced pellets from rice straw (RS) in a local private company, Tuan Tu Co, Ltd. in Hanoi, Vietnam. During her visit to Hanoi March 25 – April 3, she and Prof. Huang Xuan Co, leader of the project team at Hanoi University of Science, participated in the experiments at the company’s facilities. Prof. Kim Oanh also led the successful pellet burning test in a gasifier cookstove (GCS) in Hanoi. The indoor air quality will be monitored to compare levels of pollution when cooking with pellets as opposed to coal briquettes. Back at AIT in Bangkok, the project team will conduct efficiency and emission testing of RS pellet burning in the selected GCS. They will use the results to identify potential improvements in pellet product quality so that any necessary modifications can be made in the RS pelletizing machine. The researchers are continuing to improve their prototype before moving forward to demonstrate the RS pelletizing machine – GCS system to farmers in selected areas in Vietnam. Information on capital cost is being compiled for use in developing a business model in the future. The group is also exploring other funding sources to conduct more in depth analysis of the available non-burning alternatives.

Regarding outreach, they have shared their project findings with the Pollution Control Department (PCD) of Vietnam, Center for Environmental Monitoring (CEM) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), and other stakeholders, who have shown good interest in the project outcomes. In collaboration with the Vietnamese private sector, the project team has developed their RS pelletizing equipment and demonstrated that the pellets produced can be burned successfully in a GCS. This is an important achievement of the project, as the results will help fill in the gaps on the feasibility of making RS pellets and provide data on the emission reduction impacts of using the pellets. DONRE in Hanoi is interested in the products to replace the dirty coal briquettes used in domestic cooking because this practice will be banned in Vietnam in the near future.

In the spring and summer of 2018, the team plans to conduct indoor air quality monitoring tests in Hanoi, test the emissions efficiency of the RS pellet – GCS system, further improve the prototype, and demonstrate the system to local government officials and other stakeholders (farmers, restaurants, etc.). A survey and focus group discussion on the acceptance and prospects of the RS pellet-GCS system among users will be conducted at a later stage. The team will also complete their cost analysis to support development of a business model to ensure sustainability and affordability of the system.

1-243 HUS Students at Monitoring Site

1-243 Rice straw burning

1-243 Indonesia air monitoring

Students from HUS visiting a monitoring site at the Athletic Vocational School, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi.Open burning of rice straw on the outskirts of Hanoi, fall 2014.ITB researchers install an air quality monitoring system in Karawang, August 2014 (photos courtesy Dr. Kim Oanh).
The project website can be found online at