The Advanced Radiation Research Institute which is part of the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute was designated as the official collaboration partner of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and has started full-scale operations following its opening ceremony on the 15th of August during which the IAEA Deputy Secretary-General Daud Mohamad was in attendance. The center will serve as the hub of the technological development and expansion of the following sectors: processes supporting the conservation of the environment, invention of new materials and radiation food technology through the strategic partnership with the IAEA. “This designation means that our radiation treatment technology is on par with global standards” , says Kim Young Jin, head of the center, and will go on to detail the steps the center will take to making a lasting contribution to the advancement in the field of atomic energy and radiation technology.
Q: Please give us an introduction of the Advanced Radiation Research Institute which was recently designated as an IAEA partner.
The Advanced Radiation Research Institute (referred to as ARRI) is a government agency specializing in radiation research which was established under the Enforcement Decree of the Promotion of the Radiation and Radioactive Isotope Utilization. As a part of the expansion plan of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), the center opened as the Jeung-up branch office. The institute was renamed ‘The Advanced Radiation Research Institute at KAERI’ in accordance with government policy to grow competitive small -size institutes which conduct research specializing in convergence technology which grafts NT, BT and IT with radiation technology. Specifically we focus on research on radiation detectors and devices to further advance the standard of domestically produced technology and to provide equipment with a competitive advantage to the radiation equipment market which is expected total more than 4.4 trillion won by 2020. In addition we are actively conducting research on the latest technology on new materials, breakthroughs on methods to conserve the environment, food technology and breeding processes.
Q : What is the background behind the center being designated as the IAEA collaboration center?
The IAEA collaboration center is a global collaboration network set up to support research of radiation and to be a center for training; a collaboration center is renewed every 4 years and one center is designated per division. As most of our convergence technology on cutting-edge new materials, food technology and environment conservation has advanced to the level of other developed nations; the importance of technology sharing is being emphasized. During the same period, the government implemented a policy to create a global network and stimulate industrial development in the field of radiation research. In line with this policy, we applied to the IAEA be the ‘designated global collaboration center’ last June. The IAEA encouraged us to share our technology with other member countries. As we had already set up the radiation technology training center in cooperation with the government and regional government offices in May 2010, this existing infrastructure contributed to our achieving the designation. The designation allows us to proudly showcase the breakthrough in radiation fusion technology which was developed in our institute during the IAEA general assembly this September.
Q: The center was designated as a partner in three areas; environment conservation, new materials, and food technology. Has the detailed collaboration plan been confirmed yet?
The detailed plan has not been completed yet. We will be submitting a mid-to-long term plan to the IAEA by the end of June and will be confirming the plan details by the end of August. Broadly speaking, the center will conduct training for experts in our field coming from developing countries, participate in the IAEA research program to develop radiation applied technology, dispatch applied radiation technology experts to the IAEA, host international technology conferences, workshops and seminars. The center will play the role of a radiation technology training country that accepts IAEA trainees and scientists, as a hub not only to the Asia Pacific but globally, through strategic collaboration with the IAEA. In order to meet these requirements, we had decided that the task of international cooperation on radiation commercialization will have to come from domestic growth. This will allow researchers to access infrastructure which allows them to apply fusion technology to the industry using radiation given that the construction of the RI-Biomix center is completed by October 2012 and the radiation breeding research center by 2013. The center is planning to expand cooperative efforts surrounding the efficiency and safety evaluation of new materials and mutant breeding processes.
Q: What are the center’s contributions in establishing a global research collaboration network and how has this affected Korea’s status in the view of the IAEA?
Even before the designation, the center has conducted the RCA project and CRP joint research with the IAEA. However the research has been conducted at an individual researcher level, not at the institute level. The most significant part of the designation the expansion of research collaboration activities to include all member countries, which was previously limited to within the Asia-Pacific region. The center will play the role as the collaboration institute in the training the relevant personnel , technology sharing and the international joint research, enhancing Korea’s stature greatly along with previously designated the medical school of Seoul National University and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.
Q: Can you elaborate on the details of the radiation technology research conducted at the IAEA?
The center has focused on high value-added technology development through radiation fusion research. As mentioned earlier, the research can be represented by the development of the cutting-edge new material, environment conservation technology, agriculture and food science and radioisotope applied areas. The cutting-edge new material sector comprises of high intensity ultra-light composite material, parts such as fuel cells and medical polymer materials. The environment conservation sector is comprised of waste water treatment and the purification of air-pollution technology. In the agriculture and environment conservation area, we are conducting joint research on producing stable and high-yielding cultivation technology for crops, the prevention of food poisoning and pre-processing of crops after it is harvested. Recently, we started research on the development of hospital patients’ meals. Lastly, in the radioactive isotope sector, global collaboration is underway on non-destructive testing of large facilities to the research the identification of life phenomenon. In particular, we signed a MOU with IBMP, a medical research center in Russia, for easier international cooperation and currently are conducting joint research on the certification of sterilized food and biological growth in the area. We held joint seminars with the Tasaki Research Center, the affiliated organization of the JAEA, in Japan from May 29th to June 1. We also signed a MOU with the radiation research institute of Vietnamese Atomic Energy Commission for the joint technology development and training of human resources. We are going to further our international collaboration for technology sharing with Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Mongolia.
Q: This designation has brought Korea closer to being a world-class center for radiation science. What is the most important factor in this partnership?
The radiation technology is such an idea and knowledge intensive area that it can be best described as a ‘battle field of ideas’. The process in which an idea transforms into reality is based on the passion and patience invested in to it and also on creativity which relies on persistent research and trial and error. International collaboration needs to be headed in the direction of benchmarking predecessors, information exchange and the expansion of human resource networks to further stimulate creativity. The center’s technology and research has already reached a world-class standard and has a strong foundation in creativity, conducting various researches in the radiation fusion sector. Now it is time for us to lead the cutting-edge radiation fusion technology arena and to build a ‘hub of global collaboration’ so that the global radiation research community can grow together.
Q: Lastly, what are your goals in terms of research activities and personnel training plans; and what is the ultimate goal for the center?
The government plans to support the radiation technology industry and to further develop the research and development capacity of radiation utilization to the standards of other developed nations. By doing this, we will be able to contribute to the Korean radiation technology industry to assist in developing sustainable radiation fusion technology and will also be able to contribute to the growth of the collaborating nations, with the ultimate goal of peace and happiness for mankind in mind. Specifically, we will work on developing differentiated technologies and opening new markets for domestic companies who have been excluded from this sector due to the influx of imported devices and technology which currently holds more than 50 percent of the market share. The Advanced Radiation Research Institute will work hard to secure a stronghold in the silk road of radiation technology development.
Thank you for your time.