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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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Filter-fan-units in cleanrooms

More than just moving air