S. Lodoisamba: Coal gas should be introduced to ger area as soon as possible

S. Lodoisamba, Advisor and Professor of the National University of Mongolia, was interviewed on ‘Smokeless stove’ Project and other solutions that can substantially influence on reducing air pollution.

-During the recent meeting with media, the Word Bank experts said that a technology of ‘Smokeless stove’ is the most cost-effective way that can be implemented within the shortest period to reduce air pollution?
-First of all, I would like to direct attention to that ‘smokeless fuel’ is a wrong concept itself. Whether it emits or not depends on how the fuel is burnt. Coal extracted from Nalaikh mine has excellent quality. Its sulphuric content and ash are low but higher calories. However, it emits much because of wrong use. If an improved and condensed fuel so called smokeless fuel is burnt in wrong way, it will emit too. Therefore, we are working to burn crude coal with no emission. There has been an established entire system in Ulaanbaatar that provides citizens with coal. There is no problem to distribute produced smokeless fuel. For crude coal, it is enough to have a stove that burns coal smoke free. Foreign organizations pay much attention on this issue and implement
projects and programs. I am briefly introducing some stoves produced through advanced technology.
Energy-efficient stove ‘Silver’ made in Turkey has a technology that coal is put under wood and paper. Smoke produced from burning coal is combusted in flames of upper parts. It is proven that the smoke is  reduced by over 90 percent as compared with Mongolia’s traditional stove. Stoves designed by GIZ engineers also have sufficient combustion and is potential to reduce smoke by nearly 90 percent. The stove is produced locally with technical assistance of GIZ and started being experimented in ger households. The customers are very satisfied with the GIZ stove. Also there is another stove that was improved from existing stove. The technique of lighting the fire of the existing stove was changed. It can be said that firewood is lit from the rare side of stove and smoke being produced is combusted in flames. As existing stoves do not have controls, it burns in the extent of coal inserted, heats chimneys to redness and loses heat completely. Improved ones do not burn like this; however it has not been introduced yet to gher residential area. Price offer for the improved stove is estimated to be more expensive by about Tgs10,000 than the regular ones. No matter what, it can reduce smoke by 80 percent. There are two more different stoves with clean combustion like this. Currently, we have not had any collaboration with Ulaanbaatar administration in introduction of ‘Smokeless Stove’ in ger residential area. New stoves have not been widely produced as well. We have just installed 30-60 stoves in households as a pilot test and will hear what suggestions citizens have.

-Can even condensed fuel be burnt in the improved stove?
-It needs to be tested. There has not been anyone who studied how much smoke it emits when condensed fuel is burnt in the existing stove. It can be used if it shows good result apparently. It makes much money useless due to lack of relevant studies and estimations. Government has not given any funding for studies in  this sphere. International organizations feel the reality and give us an opportunity to conduct experiment and research. Recently, Mongolia has had Stove Emissions and Efficiency Testing Laboratory, financed by the Asian Development Bank.

-What do you think about a coal gas? Will Ulaanbaatar city be freed from smoke if this technology is introduced into ger residential areas entirely?
-It needs to be introduced into ger residential areas as soon as possible. MCS Group plans to complete construction of its coal-to-gas plant by the end of this year. I am anxious about infrastructure to distribute coal gas. I cannot tell how it will be distributed to users. MCS Group might run estimations stemmed on reality in ger area. Coal gas is so vital for people. Actually, it is completely wrong to use raw coal. Lacking means to solve the problem, we are choosing the cheapest way to improve the stove technology. Coked or higher- calorie fuels are not suitable to regular stoves. They require cast-iron stoves. Some ger area households may use coal gas while others use improved stoves.

-You have studied air pollution for many years and have broad knowledge about it. Professional organizations announced that Ulaanbaatar is a capital with most polluted air in the world. Size of particulate matter is already beyond the standard. What would you like to say about the Air Monitoring and Health Impact Baseline, joint research with the World Bank?
-Particulate Matter (PM) is general term. PM below 2.5micrometers is considered respirable particles whilst PM between 2.5-10 micrometers is coarse. It includes pieces of some metals, smoke, pollens and organics except for dust, that all can be measured. Generally, particulates below PM10 are harmful to human health. On the other words, air quality is defined with particle size ranges in per cubic meter air. Larger particles above PM10 are generally filtered in the nose and throat and do not cause problems. But particulate matter smaller than about 10 micrometers referred to as PM10 can settle in the bronchi and lungs and cause health problems. PM10-2.5 is produced from industries and human activities and can penetrate deep in human respiratory tracts and cause human health seriously.
From now on, it is being researched how much Ulaanbaatar’s air has pollution of particulate matter. As a result of the research, PM’s size range in the center of Ulaanbaatar was detected to have 6 times higher than the standard. For ger area, it showed 7-14 times high. It is necessary to lower particulate matter by 95  percent at minimum so as to reach standard level of air quality. Air pollution in Ulaanbaatar increases by 10 percent annually since 2005. The increase is same as percentage of households migrating from rural areas to
Ulaanbaatar. 

-What measures need to be taken as a priority so as to combat dust? 
-Dust can be classified into two types; natural dust produced by soil degradation and wastes of coal and ashes on soil. Dust pollution is commonly coarse particles. 45 percent of coarse particles in central traffic roads are stemmed from earth and 34 percent from waste. Smoke pollution also can be classified into two types. It is commonly PM2.5. Firstly it is emissions from Thermo Power Station, thermo stoves and low pressure stoves. It covers central part of Ulaanbaatar (up to 35 percent) and ger area surrounding Zuun Ail (about 5 percent). Second type of smoke pollution is emissions from ger stoves. It covers 33 percent in the city center whilst it is 87 percent in ger area surrounding Zuun Ail. Dust generated from smoke and soil makes  up same percentage as PM10. Earth has no smell and does not lower clearness of air. Actually, people pay more attention on smoke because of having too much pollution; however people do not realize about earth and think that the air pollution is mostly stemmed from smoke. But both affect human health seriously. For about PM2.5 pollution, smoke makes up the most part of pollution, in particular over 90 percent in ger area surrounding Zuun Ail. Moreover, combating dust and soil erosion is so significant for human health. In my opinion, if we can design stove that can be lit with no distinction of fuels, it will be very effective. Also it needs to introduce a vehicle to sweep and suck dust of paved roads. Sweeping dust of  paved road every morning can lower dust. It needs to have taller curbs in all paved. Also dusts and small earths are carried by rain water to roads and powdered by tires of vehicles, producing PM10 and PM2.5; therefore it is necessary to protect roads from flow of rain water. Furthermore, waste management needs advancement and waste bins should be placed in ger residential areas. Monitoring, research, evaluation and reports should be conducted when these measures are carried out. To do it, an activity to determine a source of pollution and poisonous elements in the air by means of taking air samples needs to be a part of monitoring
network. By doing so, it will be possible to control what percentage of pollution from which sources is lowering.
source: The Mongol Messenger newspaper
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