Jae Wook CHUNG, PhD candidate in Water Technology (Korea)

Chung Jae Wook

Having visited impoverished areas throughout the world, Jae Wook Chung wants to make sustainable water development a reality in less developed communities.

UNESCO-IHE, INSTITUTE FOR WATER EDUCATION, THE NETHERLANDS

Research focus: Development of decentralised virus removal technology in water treatment using hydrothermal carbonisation of local resources

Working and travelling in rural villages and slums changed Jae Wook Chung’s life. Now he wants to change the lives of those living there.

Through intensive experience in less-developed communities in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, India and Indonesia, Chung realised inhabitants were suffering from a lack of access to clean water and sanitation. According to World Health Organisation data, unsafe water and insufficient sanitation contribute to roughly 1.7 million deaths every year, with most victims less than five years old.

To help those who need it most, Chung devoted his graduate studies to the idea that new technology should be developed based on locally available resources. He pointed out that while there are several commercial decentralised water treatment units that utilise advanced technologies, they are far too expensive for the people who truly need them. Also, the low-cost appropriate technologies such as biosand filtration, ceramic filter, solar disinfection and coagulation-chlorination have limited efficiency on viruses.

This inspired his PhD research, titled, “Removal of viral contaminations by hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) materials in water treatment”. His studies focused specifically on evaluating low-cost carbonaceous material as a virus adsorbent in water treatment. He will continue this quest as part of the Green Talents programme.

“My lifetime vision is providing a better environment to the people in need, especially children in less developed communities,” Chung says.

The jury was impressed by Chung’s pioneering research on sustainable water technologies and also the evolution of low-price and decentralised solutions to treat drinking water. The jury considers his approach using local resources for solving local environmental problems an important path.