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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 second quarter of 2018, the project team conducted emission testing for the rice straw pellets burned in the Mimimoto gasifier cookstove (GSC). The pellets were produced by the equipment adapted for the purpose in Hanoi in cooperation with local private company Tuan Tu Co, Ltd., and the test burn was done at AIT in Bangkok. The second key activity was the indoor air quality monitoring done in Hanoi to compare the air quality in the kitchen and sitting room of a typical home in Hanoi when using different fuel-cookstove systems, including liquefied petroleum gas, pellet-gas cookstove, and coal-briquette traditional stoves. The home had a semiattached kitchen and the measurements were done simultaneously in the kitchen and in the sitting room with the door connecting the rooms closed to compare with the levels when the connecting door was open. Readings were taken during the cooking period, as well as one hour before and one hour after. The measurement data will be analyzed for the dissemination to policy makers in Vietnam and to the research community. Already, the PI reports that due to their current focus on phasing out dirty coal briquettes used in domestic and commercial cooking in the city, the Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment is interested in using rice straw pellets if suitable cookstoves for commercial cooking are available. Dr. Kim Oanh and her team also maintain contacts with the Pollution Control Department of Vietnam, the Center for Environmental Monitoring of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and other stakeholders to further disseminate the project findings. They are also attempting to link the project activities to other regional networks such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition agricultural and waste initiatives. There are potential collaborations, but larger scale implementation of the project findings in the country and more broadly in Southeast Asia remains a challenge due to the lack of available funding. Overall, however, the PI stresses that the project has provided a potential means of minimizing or eliminating rice straw open burning to gain co-benefits for air quality (health) and climate. The use of rice straw pellets for cooking can also help to reduce reliance on fossil fuel (hence reducing greenhouse gas emissions), as well as wood fuel (hence reducing deforestation).

In the next 3-6 months, the team will prepare a refined protocol for rice straw pellet production to transfer the technology to the local company with which they collaborate. The emission and indoor air quality data will be analyzed and the findings on rice straw production, pollutant emission factors, and indoor air quality impacts will be disseminated. Dr. Kim Oanh and her colleagues plan to organize a dissemination workshop for stakeholders in Vietnam before December 2018 and expect to publish a joint research paper based on their findings. Before wrapping up the project at the end of the year, they will also conduct a survey with households who will be given the rice straw pellet-gas cookstove for trial use to get their opinions on the system. The pellet production cost will also be analyzed as an input to developing the business
model to ensure sustainability and affordability.

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