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Land of clean rooms

Smart­phones, TV’s, computer chips: South Korea is the world’s supplier of high-tech gadgets. The country is now also discov­ering its love for energy-effi­cient produc­tion

In the 1960’s, the Republic of Korea was still a war-scarred nation of poor rice farmers. But in just a few decades, the Asian tiger caught up and is now one of the world’s most impor­tant economies. By far the most impor­tant industry is high-tech prod­ucts. More clean rooms than anywhere on the planet South Korea is home to the global leaders in elec­tronics produc­tion. Half of all flat-screen TV’s, displays and TV’s with LED and LCD tech­nology are made here. These are accom­pa­nied by computer chips, smart­phones and tablet PC’s – all prod­ucts that are at least partially manu­fac­tured in clean rooms.

Korean clean room producers are setting the tech­no­log­ical bench­marks. Inno­va­tions made here will soon be seen in the rest of the world.

Lee Kun Sub, ebm-papst Korea

Lee Kun Sub, Managing Director of ebm-papst Korea, indi­cates: “Korean clean room producers are setting the tech­no­log­ical bench­marks. Inno­va­tions made here will soon be seen in the rest of the world.” This is true, for example, for the effi­cient Green­Tech EC fans from ebm-papst. They are used in ceiling-mounted compact filter fan units (FFU) that combine filter tech­nology with venti­lation. “This kind of venti­lation system can only achieve an effi­ciency level of over 50 percent by using adjustable EC fans. And that is exactly what an increasing number of FFU manu­fac­turers are demanding. The high air exchange rates in clean rooms mean that air-condi­tioning and venti­lation are by far the biggest energy consumers, so anything that makes them more effi­cient is welcome”, explains Lee.


BU: A fan instal­la­tion module for filter fan units, ready for connec­tion. Using Green­Tech RadiCal ® fans, they achieve an effi­ciency level of 50 percent and reduce noise levels by up to 7 dB(A).

Another feature that is going down well with Korean customers is the mate­rial. The plas­tics used in the impellers are absolutely harm­less in terms of outgassing, which is a sensi­tive topic in clean rooms. This is impor­tant in wafer produc­tion, for example, where aluminium impellers are avoided out of fear of metallic cont­a­m­i­na­tion. “In the past five years, we saw partic­u­larly strong growth in clean room tech­nology, as we were producing large numbers of tele­vi­sions for Europe and America”, explains Lee. “Those markets are fairly satu­rated, everyone has a flat-screen TV. Now the focus is on China.” Due to high import tariffs in China, the South Korean firms are now starting to construct huge plants directly in the country.

We have seen a clear trend towards more energy effi­ciency in recent years.

Lee Kun Sub, ebm-papst Korea

Other customers of ebm-papst Korea also come mostly from high-tech indus­tries, such as telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions. Venti­lation systems play an impor­tant role in mobile base stations. “This is still a major growth market. The stations are becoming more powerful and more compact: ideal condi­tions for our compact fans.” The same applies to data centres that are being built all around us: in banks, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms and of course in the massive compa­nies in the elec­tronics and auto­mo­tive indus­tries. The idea of energy effi­ciency is still a fairly recent one. Energy is cheap, as the state heavily subsidises power for industry. “We have however seen a clear trend towards more energy effi­ciency in recent years”, says Lee. The country’s largest elec­tronics manu­fac­turers want to produce using the most modern tech­nology in the world. Part of this is a greater focus on energy effi­ciency. For this reason, various corpo­ra­tions have devel­oped strict internal energy consump­tion regu­la­tions in the last two years. “We are convinced that with its EC tech­nology, ebm-papst will profit from this trend,” predicts Lee. “This is just the begin­ning.”

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