Nguyen Van Toan, a 60-year-old farmer won gold medal at Techmart 2005 in HCM City.
Nguyen Van Toan from Dak Nong province in the Central Highlands has won gold at Techmart for two inventions that came to him by chance after experiencing difficulties in his work.
In the early 1980s, as chairman of a cooperative, Mr Toan bought a private paper factory in HCM City. At the time it was very difficult to buy chemicals to operate the factory, and Mr Toan had to seek methods to reduce the volume of NaOH used to break down raw materials for paper production. On the verge of success, members of the cooperative grew impatient with the ineffectiveness of the factory, and he lost his chairmanship when the enterprise was eventually sold.
In 1999, Mr Toan realized the chance of pursuing his unfinished research after watching a TV report about Vinh Hao state farm in Bac Quang District, Ha Giang. He later came to the farm to offer them his invention, which can help process raw materials for paper over a shorter period, while consuming a smaller volume of materials. At the farm, for one tonne of pulp, 500-550kg of NaOH was required to break down raw materials, while using Mr Toan’s technology, only 350kg of NaOH is required with no changes to existing equipment required.
It is calculated that if the 300 existing paper pulp factories in Vietnam used Mr Toan’s technology, several hundreds of billions of dong in chemical purchases could be saved each year, not to mention the benefit to the environment. The National Office for Intellectual Property under the Ministry of Science and Technology granted patent for Mr Toan’s invention.
In order to raise capital to build a pulp-processing factory with an annual capacity of 20,000 tonnes, he established an agricultural service cooperative; and it was while processing agricultural products, that he realized his second invention. After observing that regular dryers with horizontal drying floors caused material losses and affected product quality, Mr Toan designed a new dryer with a vertical drying floor to take full advantage of heat.
With Mr Toan’s dryers, materials are dried in separate layers, which not only speeds up the process, but also ensures that the products are not damaged or blackened by soot. In early 2003, Toan sent his product to the 7th national technological innovation contest and won the encouragement award. Later, a private mechanical engineering company bought the invention for VND50mil.
Mr Toan is currently working on another invention – a wastewater treatment system for pulp processing factories. The idea flashed through his mind after visiting some pulp plants and realising that capital required to build a waste water treatment system was higher than building the factory itself. Some pulp plants have to cease operation after a short time because expenditure on wastewater treatment is too high.
He says his new invention will be presented next year, and unlike existing wastewater treatment systems, it will account for just one sixth of total capital.