Vietnamese researchers have successfully created a machine that converts salt water into flake ice to be used on offshore fishing boats and fetches lower prices than its imported counterparts.
The sea-water flake ice maker, which was made publicly known by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, boasts a simple design, does not look very cumbersome and is touted as reliable and easy to repair.
Its creators said the equipment deploys materials resistant to saline water corrosion and can readily vary ice compactness at a given temperature on users’ demand.
The machine can produce sea-water flake ice, which melts much more slowly than freshwater ice, in one or two minutes, and keep it between -6 and -2 degrees Celsius.
|A Vietnam-made flake ice machine is carried on a fishing boat. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Vietnam’s Ministry of Agricuture and Rural Development says the machine represents an advance in domestic seafood industry technology.
It showed no operational problems and met requirements previously laid out during trials at harbors and on fishing boats in northern Vietnam, according to Nguyen Van Thao – director of the Hanoi-based Center for High Technology Development.
It has huge potential in solving the issues of fishing logistics, renewable energy, power efficiency and drinking water supplies on islands, said the representative of a group who tested it.
Le Van Luan, who made the machine with his partners in a large state-financed two-year project, said their equipment can help reduce fuel expenses for transporting freshwater ice from the mainland to fishing boats working at sea.
With the product, seafood is better preserved offshore as the sea flake ice, which has a large surface area, gives a lower temperature than freshwater ice and cools the haul more rapidly, Luan said.
A noteworthy advantage of the machine is its cost, which is under VND450 million (US$19,400) compared with the price tags of VND550-600 million ($23,700-25,800) for machines of the same function, Luan said.
|Men install a Vietnam-made flake ice machine on a boat. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Vietnam-made flake ice makers will come in two types, with and without a screen displaying ice quantity, fuel consumption, operation hours and maintance work.
But for the screenless version, users can know this information by connecting a smartphone wirelessly to the machine.
It is planned to become less hefty and able to produce ten tonnes of ice within 24 hours, Luan revealed.
He said the greatest research problem he faced was finding a technology that can handle days-long saline corrosion without raising the machine’s selling prices.
In carrying out the state-funded project, which required several billion dong (VND1 billion = $43,000), he and his partners sailed to the sea on chartered fishing boats.
They encountered exhausting seasickness and red tape in hiring boats and incurred massive rental.
The source of motivation, Luan said, was his love for research.