Korea National Water Industry Cluster

After the Korean War, South Korea had to redevelop its whole infrastructure. The country was heavily relying on foreign knowledge and the focus was on creating a strong export-oriented economy. This could only be carried out if there were domestic experts. Therefore, research and development became more and more important. In the past decade, the availability of clean drinking water became more and more important. Especially in 1991, after a major chemical spill accident affecting the Han river, the focus was set on drinking water quality and quantity. To reduce the research and development costs and to improve the expertise, the idea came to centre all these research and development facilities into one location: The Korea Water Cluster (KWC).

The KWC was started as an idea in 2013 by the Korean Ministry of Environment. In 2017, after a feasibility study, the construction phase started. In 2018 the act on Development of Water Management Technologies and Promotion of Water Industry gave the final start for the KWC to operate with extra research and development funds from the government. Today, we visited the KWC campus. During the presentation about the KWC, the objectives of KWC became clear, create global top new technology and increase the overseas export of Korean companies. The KWC tries to achieve this with 5 major strategies:

  1. Technological paradigm shift support, by increasing the use of technology in the water industry in the KWC research facilities. This help realises carbon neutrality.
  2. Advancement of demonstration facility, keeping improving the KWC facilities.
  3. Strengthening market entry support, by having an overseas operation of an integrated support centre where companies can have overseas certification reviews before submitting to the foreign authorities.
  4. Fostering water industry specialists, KWC has a complete education facility where researchers can learn new insights. Also, pieces of training can be tailored made.
  5. Strengthening the water industry support system, lastly, the KWC has a public relation office. Here connected companies can expand their PR strategy.

After the presentation, strategies one and two were shown: The water industry demonstration facilities. These facilities consist of four sections. Three are about treating water.

Inside the treatment facilities

The purification facility (capacity of 2000m3/day), where ground/river water is treated towards drinking water. This facility consists of itself two lines. One with Ozone and rapid filtration and one with membrane filtration and UV-light.

The waste and sewage water facility (both having a capacity of 1000m3/day), where waste and sewage water are treated so that it can be released on the surface water. The largest difference between the two is the treatment of residual solids (by filtration or activated carbon absorption).

The reuse water facility (capacity of 1000m3/day), where treated waste/sewage water is treated towards drinking water. The reuse of waste/sewage water is more and more upcoming since good water directly used for purification is becoming harder to use.

Companies connected to KWC can rent a part of the, or the complete, production line to test new invented components and methods on efficiency, quality and duration. For example a new type of filter membrane. In this way, a company does not have to have its treatment test line. In this generalised test line, a certain adjustment’s influence on the water quality can be seen more easily.

To conclude, the Korea Water Cluster is a research centre where companies can work on research, (overseas) PR strategies and expertise in the water industry.