Cookstove Emissions Have a Detrimental Environmental Impact

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 12:26

A collaborative team from Washington University in St. Louis has given a clearer picture of both cooking and heating definite, detrimental environmental impact.

"Our project findings quantitatively show that particulate emissions from cookstoves in India have been underestimated," said Rajan Chakrabarty, assistant professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Phys.org reports.

The research, recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, was the culmination of field studies conducted in India by faculty members at Washington University's School of Engineering & Applied Science and the Brown School. In December 2015, the researchers spent 20 days running a series of tests in Raipur, a city in central India where more than three-quarters of the families use cookstoves to prepare their meals.

Working in tandem with scientists from Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur and the Indian Institute of Tropical Metrology, as well as with collaborators from the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., researchers burned a wide variety of biofuels acquired from different parts of India, cooked different meals in a number of varying ventilation situations, then recorded the resulting emission levels using high-tech particle measurement devices. Once the data was crunched back in St. Louis, the results were startling: In some cases, more than twice the emission levels were detected when compared to the previous lab findings.

While further investigation is needed to evaluate the exact effect of cookstove emissions on the climate and health, the researchers say their work lays the foundation for further improving the process by which those effects are evaluated and measured.

"This then allows us to eventually determine the regions of hot spots and what locations would have high concentrations," he said. "This detailed characterization of the situation is very critical, and that can only happen in the field. We can't be doing it here in the lab."

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