Scientist uses his talents to aid fishermen

December 11, 2020 - 09:00

Witnessing his parents’ hard work, Sơn aimed to study well, get rich and change his homeland.

Trần Thái Sơn is in his laboratory. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — After turning down a PhD scholarship in Germany, Trần Thái Sơn returned to Việt Nam to carry out a series of projects to support Vietnamese fishermen.

In particular, a project to provide satellite equipment to fishing boats has great significance to fishermen.

Sơn is the first child in a poor fishing family with four brothers.

During summer holidays, Sơn went out on his parents' boat to go fishing. Witnessing his parents’ hard work, Sơn aimed to study well, get rich and have a better life somewhere else. During his years in high school, Sơn was always a poor student but could overcome difficulties.

After graduating from the mechatronics faculty under the Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu University, in 2012, Sơn won a scholarship to study for a master's in Germany.

“When I was a student, I researched and built a seawater purifier into freshwater for fishermen who went offshore but failed. Therefore, when I won the scholarship, I set the goal to study abroad to have more opportunities to deepen research at a professional laboratory, with support of professors to successfully manufacture that machine," Sơn told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

During a year studying abroad in Germany, Sơn worked hard, studying for his degree and working part-time to make ends meet.

From scholarship money and the cash he earned washing dishes, Sơn purchased materials, designed and manufactured a purifier with a capacity of 50 litres per hour, priced at VNĐ150 million (US$6,400).

After he finished his master's degree, professor Jan Hoinkis from Karlshure School in Germany offered to grant him a doctoral scholarship, but Sơn refused and returned to Việt Nam to use his seawater purifier.

After bringing the water purifier back to Việt Nam, Sơn improved it with a filter capacity of 100 litres per hour, priced at VNĐ70 million ($3,000).

Seeing the value of the machine, a fisherman ordered 10 units. Word of the machine spread and so far, Sơn has produced more than 1,000 machines.

He said the seawater-to-freshwater purifier not only improves the quality of life of fishermen but also contributes to reducing plastic waste at sea.

Sơn personally surveyed and directly installed 15 seawater-to-freshwater filters at the DK1 rig house and 23 machines at different places of Trường Sa (Spratly) Archipelago, powered by solar batteries. The filter in Trường Sa has a capacity of 200 litres per hour.

Digitalisation of Vietnamese fishing vessels

Concerned about wastewater pollution in the fisheries sector, since 2014, Sơn and his colleagues have embarked on research on environmentally friendly wastewater treatment technology.

During three years of research, Sơn used all his money and efforts to pursue his goals.

“Many people wonder where I get my energy to work so much. I just enjoy working, no matter what the circumstances. I am young, having the opportunity to work and be dedicated is the greatest happiness,” Sơn said.

With passion and non-stop efforts, in 2017, Sơn and his colleagues deployed wastewater treatment services for the fisheries sector without using chemicals and reusing wastewater. In October this year, Sơn finished a wastewater treatment system of 350cu.m per day and night.

Sơn is most interested in the project of satellite equipment for fishing boats. In July 2019, after years of research and testing, Sơn provided satellite equipment services for fishing ships. Up to now, the equipment has been provided to more than 7,000 fishing vessels.

He said satellite equipment for fishing boats is very meaningful to the profession.

Sơn's satellite equipment offers a communication device on a fishing boat and transmits WiFi, helping fishermen as a means of communication in emergencies while also monitoring weather and fish tunnel temperature. Notably, the transmission of WiFi opens up the possibility of applying information technology (IT) at sea.

"Our next goal is to deploy IT applications at sea, promote the digitisation of Vietnamese fishing vessels, and help fishermen feel secure to go offshore," Sơn added.

Sơn is one of the delegates participating in the third Việt Nam Young Talent Congress in 2020, organised by the Youth Union. He is currently the director of Hiệp Lực and Việt Development Co Ltd, located in Bưng Riềng Commune, Xuyên Mộc District, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province. In 2020, although the COVID-19 pandemic affects all aspects of life, Sơn's company had a high turnover of more than VNĐ100 billion ($4.3 million). — VNS