Professor Kim Ki-hyun, Laureate of the Science Technology And Researcher (STAR) Award
A pioneer in the field of air preservation
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Over the course of the past few years, public awareness and concern for the level of air pollution has increased rapidly. More people have begun to monitor the level of fine dust concentration on a regular basis, and sanitary masks have become an indispensable daily item. In addition, air purifiers have become a key home appliance, now that opening the window brings in polluted air.
In the midst of this growing awareness, the research achievements of Professor Kim Ki-hyun (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) is more illuminated than ever. Having been recognized for his significant contribution to air preservation, Kim received the Science Technology And Researcher (STAR) award in June.
The STAR award is a prestigious award presented monthly to scientists in the fields of education, research, and industry. It was created in 1997 to promote the scientific and technological minds to the public, while boosting the morale of scientists in various sectors of the country. Kim was recognized by the committee for his creation of a nano-material that enables the assessment and control of pollutants in the air at a more effective rate.
To delve into the details of the research, Kim created the Metal Organic Framework (MOF), essentially a web of metals connected by an organic substance. This new material was created to act as a nano-level filter that could reduce pollutants in the air at a more effective rate. Furthermore, he made improvements in the standard environmental analysis system, making it more efficient to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOC) and odor-causing substances in the air.
“The current level of air purification technology is quite effective. However, there is a limit to the ability to detect and eliminate VOC,” explained Kim. Unlike dust, which is a solid form of pollutant, VOC includes substances such as benzene and formaldehyde, which are in the form of gas. As byproducts of household activities like cooking, these materials are highly toxic; unfortunately, only 40 to 50 percent of them can be eliminated by a standard air purifier. When considering that people spend 80 percent of their time indoors on average, the damage from these substances could be significant. Kim is hopeful about the prospects of his research and predicts that he will someday find a method to eliminate gas pollutants all together.
When asked for a comment on receiving the award, Kim answered that it was the result of hard work. As a researcher devoted to the interface between human activities and the environment, Kim has spent his life attempting to raise the public's awareness and interest in environmental issues. After working on the discovery and monitoring of pollution levels, Kim set out on a path to reduce them. “I feel fortunate and grateful," answered Kim, who felt that his devotion to the field had been recognized.
Kim's current goal is to break down the limitations of reducing VOC in the air. Although it is currently possible under the condition of the air being stagnant, the dynamic nature of air necessitates the creation of a technology that will make it possible under all conditions. In the long run, Kim hopes to create a road map that stipulates the various hazards created under different conditions, and how to address them.
In his last comment, Kim raised his concerns of the public's discretion in accepting environmental facts. Although he recognizes the increase in public awareness, he pointed out that we should be more critical of what we consider facts, as well as our actions.“Nothing strikes me as more ignorant than a smoker who puts on air filter masks,” added Kim. Though our hearts may be in the right place, there is a need for the public to critically review their life patterns in making efforts to combat pollution.
Lee Chang-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Jin-myung
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