Student Research Makes the Case for Improved Cookstoves

October 16, 2018

Tommy Klug in Madagascar

A recently released volume of case studies published by Duke’s student-run Global Energy Access Network (GLEAN) features research by former Bass Connections student team member Tommy Klug. Klug’s study, “Building the Case for Improved Cookstoves in Mandena, Madagascar,” examines how reliance on traditional biomass fuel, such as wood, charcoal, dung and crop waste, has affected a village community in Madagascar.

Klug ’18 (Public Policy and Environmental Science) was a member of the 2016-17 Cookstoves and Air Pollution in Madagascar: Finding Winning Solutions for Human Health and Biodiversity team, which studied the effects of traditional cooking practices on human and environmental health in Mandena, Madagascar.

My work in Madagascar began with a Bass Connections project in spring 2016. I decided to return to Madagascar on a DukeEngage independent project grant in summer 2017 to work more closely with the Duke Lemur Center: SAVA Conservation (the branch of the Lemur Center in Madagascar that focuses on community based conservation efforts). My work in Madagascar led me to work for the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI) based here at Duke, which is an international network of energy access researchers and practitioners that coordinates and supports new energy access research around the globe. –Tommy Klug ’18

Klug traveled with the team to Mandena in the summer of 2016 to collect data on cooking practices, respiratory health, blood pressure and air quality and found strong indications that traditional cooking practices were contributing to impaired lung functioning among local residents as well as biodiversity loss in the region. Four members of the team, including Klug, co-published their original research in GLEAN’s first volume of energy access case studies in February 2018.

GLEAN Vol. 2Klug took his research further through a DukeEngage independent project and returned to Madagascar in the summer of 2017. There, he partnered with the Duke Lemur Center: SAVA Conservation to conduct surveys and personal exposure measurements among populations that depend on biomass fuels for cooking. He spent a month in Mandena and a month in the town of Sambava gathering health data and assessing the performance of improved cookstoves, including their potential to mitigate harmful emissions, such as biofuel particulates and carbon monoxide.

Klug now works at the Duke Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI), a program that supports global interdisciplinary research on energy transitions and energy access. 

This is the second volume of case studies published by GLEAN, a student organization that brings together graduate, professional and undergraduate students across disciplines to explore diverse perspectives on energy access issues. Housed in the Duke University Energy Initiative, GLEAN is supported through the Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN) grant program. In addition to publishing a second volume of case studies, GLEAN has also organized an Energy Access Speaker Series and curated an energy access photo contest and exhibit.

See a related article on the Duke University Energy Initiative site.

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