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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 - June 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
September 9-15, 2017, Prof. Kim Oanh made an official trip to launch her new Evidence to Action supplement project in Vietnam in partnership with the Hanoi University of Science, with the team there being led by Prof. Hoang Xuan Co. On September 12, Prof. Kim Oanh and Prof. Co organized a workshop “Alternative non-burning options for rice straw management in Vietnam” at HUS. It attracted the participation of local experts and stakeholders from the state and private sectors, including representatives from the Pollution Control Department of Vietnam, Center for Environmental Monitoring (CEM, MONRE), Urban Rural Solution Company, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, Hanoi Agricultural University, and others. All participants expressed their strong interest in the potential of turning rice straw into cooking fuels in Vietnam. They contributed valuable recommendations and suggestions for the project operation. For example, local experts and stakeholders suggested that it would be more convenient and convincing for farmers if a mobile pelletizing package could be provided for onsite application. This should include a grinder, mixer, and pelletizer that can be used directly in the field after harvesting. In addition, the discussion also centered on the possible follow-up to develop a workable business model and further collaboration in spin-off projects in Vietnam. As recommended by local experts and stakeholders, the rice-straw pellets produced should also be used for combustion on a larger scale, such as in industrial boilers or for commercial cooking in restaurants, rather than only at the household scale. On September 13, Prof. Kim Oanh made a field visit and met with farmers in the Hoai Duc rice planation area near Hanoi. Back at AIT in Bangkok, her team has already begun technical modification of the previously developed lab-scale rice-straw pelletizing machine. The Vietnamese partner at HUS will purchase a grinder to start the experiments in time. Further down the road, the team will work toward creating a business model for the efficient and effective use of rice straw for fuel. The impacts will include less emissions of climate forcing pollutants (short-lived climate pollutants and greenhouse gases), less toxic air pollution emissions from rice straw open burning, better indoor air quality with improved cookstoves (hence less exposure risks to people), less dependency on mineral fuel and wood fuel for cooking (with an associated reduction in deforestation), and potential income for farmers by selling rice straw to produce pellets.

In the next six months, the team plans to finalize the technical modification for the rice-straw pelletizing machine and demonstrate the pellet making process to farmers. The cookstoves for use with the pellets will be delivered to farmers, and a survey and focus group discussion on their acceptability will be conducted. During this time, indoor air quality in the users’ homes will be monitored to preliminarily assess potential impacts on indoor air quality and health exposure when using the cookstoves with rice straw-derived fuel as compared with existing cooking methods.

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