Putting Cambodian Cookstoves under the Microscope: Results from GERES’ lab study
After 6 months of research on improved cookstove performance in Cambodia, StovePlus is curious to learn more about the study and to hear from Guillaume, G-BEL’s (GERES Biomass EnergyLab) manager, in order to increase our knowledge on the subject.
StovePlus: How did this study come about? What was the aim of carrying out such a challenging task?
Guillaume: GERES implemented this study to get a comprehensive overview of the stoves existing in Cambodia. This tool aims to help stakeholders succeed in their interventions on the field and to bring essential information for the cooking energy sector to move forward. We added to the study an emission inventory to get a comparison of the amount of pollution level each stove produces (Particulate Matter (PM), Carbon Monoxide (CO)). Furthermore, we tested each cookstove with different models to identify a performance interval for each result.
It’s the first time that an organization carries out a study of this magnitude. We have included the more representative technologies (devices and fuels) used to cook in Cambodia. Additionally, G-BEL is the only laboratory able to conduct tests in South-East Asia to measure efficiency, power, and amounts of polluting emissions.
Actually, this study is part of a bigger research work carried out by GERES: “FloWood”. It’s a set of studies about biomass fuel in Cambodia. The team focuses on the main pollutant sectors in the country which use dirty devices in their process:
- Brick production
- Domestic cooking
- Rubber manufacturing
- Ice block manufacturing
- Curing tobacco
- Familial food-processing (small scale)
- Smoking fish
- Refining salt
- Biomass gasification
Our researchers (agricultural engineers), have been living in Cambodia for years and were able to conduct this hard work to capitalize knowledge.
Going back to the G-BEL study, the work reflects the lab’s capabilities in working with complex tools (eg. LEMS, calorimeter bomb…) and to adapt to the field.
StovePlus: To adapt to the field? What do you mean?
Guillaume: We are recognized as a Regional Cookstoves Testing and Knowledge Centre (RTKC). Thus, we should follow the Water Boiling Test (WBT) guidelines for the tests since they are Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’ recommendation. When we began the test and because of a protocol characteristic, we found major differences between the results according to the fuel (charcoal or wood) that didn’t allowed us to compare the inputs. Thus, we had to adapt the protocol to get more accurate results.
StovePlus: Have you faced other difficulties in carrying out this study? I can imagine it wasn’t that easy to define which kind of technology is the most polluting…
Guillaume: Indeed, testing these technologies doesn’t mean testing only the cookstove itself. To get results as close to reality, we have to re-create exactly the same conditions existing on the field. Concretely, to test stoves, it is essential to take into account:
- The device or the technology used
- The fuel
- How end-user uses the stove
Indeed, testing wood bought to a reseller in Phnom Penh can be really different than testing wood gathered from the countryside near Battambang, and whether it is only wood or only charcoal. A lot of factors exist and that can influence the whole result. Small differences in the initial conditions of the test (type of wood, charcoal, tester, temperature…) can have huge impacts on the final results.
Considering the uses, you can compare the cookstove end-users with car drivers. With the same car, some drivers are able to save more fuel than other, or require less repairs…
As you can guess, one of the key factors to be influenced and which is essential to reduce is harmful emissions and to increase efficiency is for the end-users to handle how to use the improved cookstoves. Thus, building end-users’ capacities for better use will have significant impacts on their health and their budget.
Assessing the results leads to designing a new project. We aim to communicate and train end-users to take full advantage of improved cookstove capacities, HESCoP (Health, Efficiency, Safety in Cooking Practices).
You want more information?
Contact Guillaume for the study on cooking solutions: g.monceaux - at - geres.euOr for the FloWood studies: r.joya - at - geres.eu