Advanced Radiation Technology Institute of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (ARTI) was officially designated as collaborating center for IAEA in the radiation technology. In an inauguration ceremony held on May 15th, Deputy Director General of IAEA, Daud Mohamad handed the collaborating center plaque to Kim YoungJin, the head of the ARTI. Through strategic collaborations with IAEA, the institute is going to play a central role in spreading and developing three areas of Radiation technology such as environmental preservation treatments and development of new materials, food irradiation technology. Kim YoungJin, head of the ARTI says that recent designation means the radiation technology of ARTI is recognized internationally. In this interview, we talked to Kim about the institute’s future plans to contribute to atomic and radiological technology advancements in the world as an IAEA collaborating center.
Q. ARTI has been designated as a partner for IAEA. Would you please introduce ARTI?
ARTI is a national research institute founded in compliance with Promotion of Radiation and Radioactive Isotope Utilization Act. As part of an expansion project of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, we opened in 2006 as “Jeong-eop Radiation Institute of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. But last year we changed our name to Advanced Radiation Technology Institute as part of the government’s merged, abolished or streamlined policy, and we specialize in fusion and complex technology which grafts NT, BT, IT to the radiation technology. In particular, we are concentrating on radiation detectors and related instruments to supply differentiated equipment in the domestic radiation equipment market and to raise the domestic technology level. In the areas of advanced materials, environmental preservation, food science and biotechnology and sarcoma, we are also actively working on developing new technology using various radiations.
Q. What made ARTI officially designated as collaborating center by IAEA?
IAEA collaborating centers are international collaboration network that supports nuclear-related technology research. For each field, IAEA name a center and re-designate every four years. As our fusion and complex technology applying radiation in advanced materials, food science and biotechnology and environmental preservation has remarkably improved and reached the level of advanced countries, the importance of donating technology came to the fore. Timely enough, the government came up with an internalization policy to build international networking and promote industry development.
So, our institute has made a formal request to IAEA for us to be considered as its international collaborating center. IAEA also hoped to share Korea’s technology with its member states and named us as its collaborating center. Having the training center for radiation technology, the infrastructure for international cooperation, founded in May, 2010, with the support from government and local governments, greatly attributed to being recognized as an IAEA collaborating center. Now we are able to proudly present our outstanding achievements of radiation fusion technology in the IAEA General Assembly scheduled in September.
Q. ARTI has been designated to consult with IAEA on the specific areas of environment, new materials and food science and biotechnology. Do you have specific collaborating plans for each area?
Not yet. But we will set out medium and longer term plan by the end of June and specific plans by the end of August. Largely speaking, ARTI will provide training for experts from the developing countries, participate in the research program for developing radiation application technology such as collaborative research projects led by IAEA, dispatch IAEA experts in radiation application technology, hold international technology conventions, workshops and seminars in Korea organized by IAEA and will have IAEA trainees and scientists visit as part of technical cooperation with the IAEA, and will play our role as a radiation technology donor country. In that regard, we have newly assigned international cooperation task to Radiation Commercialization Technology Department so that they can focus on this project.
When RI-biomix center that will be completed this October and radiation breeding research center in 2013, our institute (ARTI) will have research infrastructures that enables us to integrate our fusion and complex technology into all industries that use radiation. Using the new infrastructure, we will expand our cooperation on the evaluation of safety and efficacy of new material and expand our cooperation on mutation breeding.
Q. As an IAEA collaborating center, what's been your contribution to building international cooperation network and has there been any change in the international standing?
Even before we were named as a collaborating center, we have been working closely together with IAEA on its programs such as RCA projects and CRP (Coordinated Research Program) international collaborative research projects. However, these projects were conducted at an individual not at the organizational level. What's most significant about this designation is that it will give us opportunities to expand our cooperation activities, which have so far been limited to Asia Pacific region, in all of our member states. As we perform our role as collaborating center in various activities such as training experts, sharing technology, conducting international joint research, we expect not only related technologies to be advanced but also the international standing of ARTI to become enhanced, along with that of the two previously designated collaborating centers, SNU College of medicine and Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.
Q. Is there any specific research in the radiation technology area which IAEA is currently focusing on?
Our institute has been focusing on developing high value added technology through our research. As I've mentioned earlier, the specific areas are development of new materials, environmental preservation, agricultural and food technology, radioactive isotope related field.
New materials include high strength and lightweight composite materials, components and materials such as permanent batteries, biomedical polymer materials. In environmental preservation research we are working on wastewater treatment and air purification. In the fields of agricultural and food, collaborative research on high yield crops, postharvest storage, prevention of food-poisoning is in progress. Recently, international collaborative research on patient meals is under way. Last but not least, in relation to radioactive isotope field, extensive international cooperation is being made ranging from non- destructive testing of large facilities to biological phenomena.
In particular, we signed an MOU with IBMP, Russian medical research institute, and are doing joint research on certification of sterilized food and growth of organism in space, and we held a joint seminar with Takasaki Advanced Radiation Research Institute of Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) from May 29, 2012 to June 1, 2012. We also signed an MOU with radiation research institute in Cheongdo, China and radiation research institute of Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission (VAEC) and are working to cooperate jointly in technology development, and to provide training for Vietnam experts. Our institute will also provide technical assistance in Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Mongolia.
Q. We can say ARTI has come one step closer to radiation science technology powerhouse with the designation. What do you think is the most important in international cooperation?
Radiation technology is knowledge based and it is not too much to say that it is the battleground for ideas. Realizing ideas successfully starts with originality and determined by enthusiasm and perseverance. The essence of originality lies in practice and experience. So, I think international cooperation means bench marking, exchange of information and network enlargement.
Our institute has conducted various research and development projects in the radiation fusion technology, acquiring world class technology and paving the way for originality. Now it’s time we play a leading role in cutting-edge radiation fusion and complex technology through more active international cooperation, and it’s time for us to establish a hub of international cooperation that seeks peaceful coexistence with international community through technology donation.
Q. Last question, what are your plans with regard to R&D projects and training activities and the ultimate goal of ARTI?
The government is planning to promote radiation industry and enhance R&D capabilities in radiation technology to the level of advanced countries. ARTI is planning to contribute to the development of domestic radiation industry with the aim to developing radiation fusion and complex technology for the peace and well-being of the entire mankind and to pursuing win-win growth with cooperating countries. Particularly for domestic companies that haven't been able to secure the market due to imported equipment and foreign technology, we will develop differentiated technology and create new markets for them so that they can obtain more than 50% domestic market share. We will do our best in serving as a steppingstone so that Korea can mark the beginning of the Silk Road in radiation technology