Nieuws - 1 januari 1970

MSc thesis on industrial ecology wins award

MSc thesis on industrial ecology wins award

MSc thesis on industrial ecology wins award

The best MSc thesis among this year's graduates was announced Friday January 22nd, at the end of the day's graduation ceremony

The Van der Plas award went to Nguyen Phuc Quoc from Vietnam, for his thesis in Urban Environmental Management, a joint MSc between WAU and the IHS (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies) in Rotterdam. Quoc's research deals with industrial solid waste prevention and reduction, using his country's rubber and footwear manufacturing industries for case studies. His 200-page thesis has such an overwhelming amount of data and information that the jury also suggested creating a more reader-friendly format to make it accessible to a wider audience

A simple explanation of his research was not an easy matter either, as Quoc described his circular metabolism model of the complexities involved in industrial production processes. It is difficult to get the industrial sectors in Vietnam to consider prevention and reduction of industrial wastes, Quoc begins. In the rubber industry there is little incentive to save materials for on-site recycling as the price of natural rubber is so low. Raising environmental standards would mean improving equipment: a costly and complex process. Promoting domestic rubber recycling is hampered by the fact that the main customers (Taiwanese companies) also supply the raw material, and the government's tax policies do little to stimulate the domestic market

Looking at the sports shoe industry, Quoc found that much can be done to reduce and prevent waste. I traced the assembly process of rubber and other important components like plastics, phylon (EVA), and synthetics like polyurethane. Quoc's recommendations include on-site suggestions: more efficient material use in shoe design, providing clear instructions for illiterate workers, and using water-based glues. By-products from one activity can also be used as an input for another. For example, EVA dust can be a raw material for the rubber industry. However, many of these options belong to long-term environmental strategies. Off-site waste reduction is more feasible in the short term: foam polyurethane and EVA scraps can be used as padding materials for the glass and pottery industry, for instance

Quoc came to WAU through a cooperative effort between international educational institutions in the Netherlands and Vietnam called REFINE (Research and Education for Industry and Environment). This programme aims at upgrading skills in Industrial Transformation at the Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam's rapid pace of industrialisation since the 1980s has been accompanied by an urgent need for environmentally friendly methods of industrial production, Quoc's supervisor, Tuur Mol, explains

When presenting Quoc with his diploma during the graduation ceremony, Mol commented: This MSc thesis is the best I've ever seen in the field of Industrial Ecology. Quoc's work came so close to my own level of understanding on the subject that I had to deviate from my normal role as Supervisor. Later, Mol continued: This thesis reflects not only an ability to network well to obtain information, but also to integrate the social, economic and technical issues in a very intelligent analysis. If Quoc continues as he has worked on his MSc research, he should manage to complete his PhD within two years, rather than the usual four. Am.S