How South Korean Scientists Are Working to Help Us Adapt to Climate Change

SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In order to understand climate change, it is essential to figure out how greenhouse gases move through the atmosphere. Scientists at Yonsei University in South Korea have examined data sets that included observations from the Japan-Russian Siberian Tall Tower Inland Observation Network (JR-STATION) in Siberia, one of the largest CO2 sinks in the world, to validate carbon dioxide flux data sets with increased precision and sensitivity. This research reduces the variability and uncertainty in mathematically optimized data sets and subsequent modeling, thereby providing a sound foundation for researchers and other technical professionals to examine the role of carbon dioxide in atmospheric change.

As climate change starts influencing our daily lives, research departments at Yonsei University are focusing on research that can provide implementable solutions and help us progress into a future that is built on clean and sustainable energy. Solar Photovoltaic energy is clean, sustainable and Building-integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) systems being quickly adapted in highly populated urban centers globally. In pursuit of zero-energy buildings, BIPV blinds are at the top of every sustainable architect's shopping list. Researchers from the school of Architecture and Architectural Engineering at Yonsei University have studied technical and economic variables that must be considered when selecting BIPV blinds. Their findings will enable sustainable architects to design blinds and invest in appropriate PV systems based on their requirements.    

Converting excess waste heat into electricity is another promising avenue for alternative clean energy. Thermoelectric devices that effectively convert temperature differences into usable electricity can reduce the energy consumption for every industry. Researchers from the Material Science and Engineering department at Yonsei University demonstrated enhanced thermoelectric properties of large core/shell heterostructure nanowire systems that can be used to design thermoelectric devices. Published in Elsevier, this study also opens the door to use these systems in module applications such as thermoelectric generators and computer memory systems.

The mechanical engineering department at Yonsei is also working to enhance our quality of living. Researchers have developed a method to build large, low-cost, and mass-producible advanced optical devices by using an artificial material called "metamaterial" that changes its refractive index when subjected to mechanical stress. The technology is expected to lead to the industrial-scale production of adaptive lenses for advanced miniaturized cameras, machine vision, lidar-based technologies, and most importantly, energy harvesting.

Nitrogen-capture is another challenging issue in oil recovery, air separation, and the production of hydrogen from gases emitted by the steel industry. The removal of nitrogen from methane is essential in the natural-gas industry to meet pipe-line restrictions. Present-day cryogenic distillation processes are expensive and energy-intensive and the use of adsorption and membrane technologies is an alternative cost-effective and energy-efficient solution to selectively capture nitrogen. Scientists from the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering have proposed a new biomimetic adsorbent containing accessible Chromium ion (Cr3+) sites for optimal N2/CH4 and N2/O2 separation. This study, published in Nature Materials, paves the way for development of new adsorption technologies that can help address issues in the environment and energy industry.

This pioneering South Korean University has also been producing breakthroughs in the basic sciences. In the August issue of Nature Chemistry, Professor Dongho Kim and his research team from Yonsei's department on Chemistry reported the successful chemical synthesis of expanded porphyrin with a three-dimensional structure containing aromatic molecular bridges. For the first time the 40-year-old concept of Baird-type bicyclic aromaticity, proposed by Roald Hoffman, has been demonstrated practically. So far, the problem of 'the reversal of aromaticity in a triplet ground state' had not been solved. This study will make it easy and efficient to synthesize aromatic derivatives with various properties and propel the field of organic synthesis into the future. In addition to making processes more energy-efficient, research outcomes from this study can also be applied to create a molecular switch to be used to develop the tiny supercomputer.

The research output from Yonsei University in 2017 clearly indicates that the university is actively empowering all departments to work on research that translates into actionable solutions to enhance human life and well-being.       

About Yonsei University

After introducing modern higher education over a century ago, Yonsei University has emerged as South Korea's top private university and ranks among the world's most prestigious universities. It has been the driving force behind Korea's economic and political growth, and it continues lead the way in forward-thinking research and education for a changing society. The university has 3 campuses (in Sinchon, Songdo, and Wonju) comprising 21 colleges, 19 graduate schools, and 120 research centers, where an administrative staff of over 1000 and more than 5000 local and international professors cater to the needs of 37,000+ students. Please visit for more details.   

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