Southeast Asian countries join forces for scientific strength
Thanks to Pimchai Chaiyen, members of the Mahaphot community, in Nan, northern Thailand, now get value from their food scraps. In 2019, the biochemist and her team from the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC) in Rayong, installed large plastic tubs containing an anaerobic digestion system at schools, community centres and a monastery. They showed local people how microorganisms broke down the unwanted food collected in the tubs to make biogas and fertilizers.
“We wanted to create a useful tool to support the circular economy,” says Chaiyen. “Because if you don’t process food waste properly, most of it will just go to landfill, where it generates methane and carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.”
Chaiyen, who won the 2015 Outstanding Scientist of Thailand Award, the country’s highest scientific honour, and her institution exemplify progress in Thailand’s research.
The country’s Share remains in double digits only, at 45.56 in the year to August 2020, the latest full year available. This is orders of magnitude less than China’s, at 14,450.20 for the same period.
But in 2020, Thailand was third, after China and Vietnam, on Nature Index’s list of rising countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. And VISTEC, founded in 2015, is 12th in the region among the top rising non-Chinese institutions for chemistry.
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