Two students from the Hanoi University of Technology received gold medals from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for their outstanding research in water treatment and environmental protection.
Nguyen Khanh Anh Hong and Pham Minh Hao’s innovative research of zeolite has proved to be profitable and helpful in Vietnam’s shrimp farming industry.
Their scientific research involves selecting domestic sources of the mineral kaolinite, which is used to produce materials containing zeolite, and developing new technologies that would help conserve Vietnam’s marine environment.
“Zeolite has an excellent ability to selectively absorb water pollutants, which I quickly learned is of great use in water treatment and environmental protection,” said Ms. Hong.
She shared her idea with her classmate Mr. Hao and the two students realized the major role zeolite could play in the shrimp industry. One of the major challenges facing the shrimp-farming industry today is the mass death of shrimp due to poor environmental management practices.
The pair encountered many obstacles during their research. The majority of reference books were obsolete and written in Russian and the few books on zeolites were written in French and English. Even when they got the books translated, information was inaccurate due to the lack of understanding by the translators. Instead they did the translation on their own.
While researching and reading material took time, working in the lab called for patience, diligence, and deftness. “To successfully synthesize zeolite group A from kaolinite, we spent several sleepless nights toiling away at the samples in the lab. The test tubes were so delicate that we had to handle them with great care or else the experiment fail,” said Mr. Hao.
In the end, all their hard work paid off. The inexpensive and abundant supply of natural kaolinite in Vietnam will be exploited and put to good use in Vietnam’s marine industry.
In addition to their discovery of zeolite group A, they helped mass producing zeolite. “Our zeolite not only filters the water but also stabilizes the pH in water which is essential to shrimp growth,” said Ms. Hong. He also adds the “made-in Bach Khoa” zeolites cost half as much as similar imported products, if not much better, as far as quality is concerned.
Ms. Hong and Mr. Hao continue to experiment the usage of zeolite in the fields of petrochemistry, animal husbandry, and environmental protection.