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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.)

On October 28-29, 2017, the project PI Prof. Kim Oanh presented a training course on ambient air quality monitoring to the Center of Environmental Monitoring in Hanoi, with support provided by another collaborative project with Clean Air Asia (CAA). The purpose was to collect and use monitoring data with Quality Assurance/Quality Control to assess the effects of rice straw open burning in Hanoi. The event was also attended by several key PEER project stakeholders who had attended the PEER Evidence to Action (EtoA) project launching workshop in September 2017, including Prof. Hoang Xuan Co of the Hanoi University of Science (HUS), the Vietnamese partner involved in the activity. Prof. Kim Oanh and Prof. Co visited the project site during the burning season in October-November 2017 and discussed with farmers the perspectives of non-burning alternatives. The PI also visited a company producing farming machines to discuss potential cooperation.
With support from the PEER EtoA supplement, the AIT research team has prepared and tested the operation of a rice straw (RS) pellet – gasifier cookstove (GCS) system, and on November 3, 2017, they demonstrated it to local farmers in Pathumthani in a spin-off project under the Sustainable Research Mekong Network (SUMERNET). AIT purchased 3 gasifier-cookstove units and delivered them to HUS for utilization in demonstrations to farmers in Vietnam as planned. Prof. Co also visited AIT to see the existing RS processing unit (shredder and cyclone) and pelletizing machine and discuss a potential replication of the systems for the project with the support of a local company (Tuan Tu Co.) in Hanoi. The technical design and prototype were transferred to the HUS team in Hanoi.
The project team is preparing for the testing of energy efficiency and emissions from the RS pellet – GCS system to be conducted in January 2018 at AIT. They are working closely to support HUS and cooperate with the designated company to improve and develop the RS processing (grinder and mixer) and pelletizing machine so it will be suitable for use in the rice paddy areas in Vietnam. Also in early 2018, the gasifier cookstove systems sent to HUS will be delivered to farmers for their trial use, and the researchers will use surveys and focus group discussions to get feedback from them to improve the system. Indoor air quality will be monitored to preliminarily assess potential impacts on exposure risk when using the RS pellet – GCS for daily cooking as compared with the farmers’ existing cooking methods. A preliminary cost analysis will be done for incorporation into a future business model to sustain implementation of the technology. Key leaders among the farmers will be involved in the process to ensure the system will be affordable for them.

Overall, the PI reports that implementation of the project activities is going as planned, and she and her team are also focusing on expanding the project network to ensure bigger impacts in the region. They are already well connected to the SUMERNET network to in disseminate project activities to larger audiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion. For the common concern of the biomass open burning and impacts on air quality, the project maintains collaboration with the Clean Air Asia (CAA) which helps in harmonizing efforts and goals to achieve cleaner air in the Asian region, and they have made multiple contacts in Vietnam, including governmental organizations, industry, and farmer’s associations in selected agricultural areas in Hanoi. In Thailand, they have discussed the project with a representative of the country’s Pollution Control Department, and in Cambodia they have reached out to a climate-related NGO to discuss the potential for registering their cookstoves under that country’s carbon credit program.

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