Collaborative efforts to investigate emissions from residential and municipal trash burning in India

By Heidi Vreeland, Christina Norris, Lauren Shum, Jaya Pokuri, Emily Shannon, Anmol Raina, Ayushman Tripathi, Dinesh Borse, Ankit Patel, Pranjal Dixit, Michael H. Bergin, Brian R Stoner

Emissions from trash burning represent an important component of regional air quality, especially in countries such as India where the practice of roadside, residential, and municipal trash burning is highly prevalent. However, research on trash emissions is limited due to difficulties associated with measuring a source that varies widely in composition and burning characteristics. To investigate trash burning in India, a collaborative program was formed among RTI, Duke University, and the India Institute of Technology (IIT) in Gandhinagar, involving both senior researchers and students. In addition to researching emission measurement techniques, this program aimed to foster international partnerships and provide students with a hands-on educational experience, culminating in a pilot study in India. Before traveling, students from Duke and IIT met virtually to design experiments. IIT students were able to visit proposed sites and offer specified knowledge on burning practices prior to the pilot study, allowing potential experiments to be iteratively improved. The results demonstrated a proof of concept of using a low-cost sensor attached to a commercial drone to measure emissions from a municipal dump site. In addition, for small-scale residential and roadside trash burning, a combustor was designed to burn trash in a consistent way. Results suggested that thermocouples and low-cost sensors may offer an affordable way for combustor designers to assess particulate emissions during prototype iterations. More experiences like this should be made available so that future research can benefit from the unique insights that come from having veteran researchers work with students and from forming international partnerships.

Bibliography

Vreeland, H., Norris, C., Shum, L., Pokuri, J., Shannon, E., Raina, A., ... Stoner, B. R. (2018). Collaborative efforts to investigate emissions from residential and municipal trash burning in India. (RTI Press Publication No. RB-0019-1809). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. DOI: 10.3768/rtipress.2018.rb.0019.1809

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Authors

Heidi VreelandHeidi Vreeland, MS, is a doctoral candidate in environmental engineering at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Christina NorrisChristina Norris, MSc, is a research associate at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Lauren ShumLauren Shum, BSE, is an electrical engineer at DEKA Research & Development. At the time the research was conducted, she was a student in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Jaya PokuriJaya Pokuri, BSE, is a data scientist at Edison Software. At the time the research was conducted, he was a student in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Emily ShannonEmily Shannon, BSE, is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. At the time the research was conducted, she was a student in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Anmol RainaAnmol Raina, BTech, is a junior research assistant in the Department of Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India, where he was a student at the time the research was conducted.

Ayushman TripathiAyushman Tripathi, BTech, is a scientist/engineer at the Space Applications Center, ISRO. At the time the research was conducted, he was a student in the Department of Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India.

Dinesh BorseDinesh Borse, BTech, is a student in the Department of Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India.

Ankit PatelAnkit Patel, BTech, is a graduate student at Purdue University in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering. At the time the research was conducted, he was a student in the Department of Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.

Pranjal DixitPranjal Dixit is a student in the Department of Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.

Michael H. BerginMichael H. Bergin, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Brian R StonerBrian R. Stoner, PhD, is director of Duke’s Center for WaSH-AID and Research Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, as well as a Visiting Distinguished Fellow at RTI International.

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