A new microorganism for algae biomass to produce alternative fuels

– Professor Gyoo Yeol Jung and his research team utilized algae that grow three times faster than starch crops and succeeded in producing biofuel and biochemicals

– They developed a new artificial microorganism as a microbial platform for the biorefinery of brown macroalgae which is possible to accelerate biochemical production rate

 

The biorefinery technology uses biomass as a feedstock and converts it to energy and other beneficial byproducts. It is drawing attention as an eco-friendly and sustainable technology to prepare for depletion of fossil fuels. However, the types of biomass that can be used for this technology are very limited. Starch crops such as corns are utilized as biomass (mainly glucose), but they are easily consumed by microorganism. Such processes have limitations in satisfying the growing demands of bioproducts, for example, the consumption of food resources and limited cultivation capabilities.

 

To overcome such limitations, the joint research team of POSTECH and Seoul National University developed a new microorganism, which they named as Vibrio sp. dhg. In their study, they successfully demonstrated that Vibrio sp. dhg can be a promising microbial platform for the biorefinery of brown macroalgae which can replace starch-crop biomass. Their research is published in the latest publication of the world-renowned journal, Nature Communications on June 6th, 2019.

 

Continuing efforts on studying utilization of non-edible biomass have been made and brown macroalgae have been suggested as an alternative feedstock. Brown macroalgae grow two to three times faster than the starch crops and only require light and seawater to grow. Although they are only consumed in a few countries such as Korea, they are not eaten in most of the countries. Because of these advantages, they seem to be a reasonable alternative choice. However, there was no industrial microorganism that can easily metabolize polysaccharides like alginic acid in algae and it was difficult to develop the process for utilizing algae as biomass.

 

To solve this problem, Prof. Gyoo Yeol Jung and his research team at POSTECH and Prof. Sang Woo Seo and his research group at Seoul National University successfully developed a new microorganism, Vibrio sp. dgh, that can rapidly metabolize alginic acid in algae and genetic engineering techniques optimized for this new microorganism based on omics analysis. In addition, they succeeded in developing biorefinery processes that directly produce ethanol (biofuel), 2,3-butanediol (raw material for plastics), lycopene (physiologically active substance) and other various chemical products by artificially manipulating the metabolic pathway of Vibrio sp. dhg.

 

Especially, the new artificial microorganism they found has many advantages and brings great expectations of its future usage. For example, Vibrio sp. dhg can not only use brown macroalgae as biomass but also other various biomass more efficiently than the conventional industrial microorganisms (E. coli, yeast). Also, their growth rate is two times faster and they convert biomass more rapidly. Therefore, it is expected to be used for improving the efficiency of microbial fermentation process using not only algae but also conventional gluose-based biomass.

Prof. Jung who led the research team explained, “The microorganism that we found, Vibrio sp. dhg can rapidly metabolize algae-derived carbon sources. So, it can be utilized in producing eco-friendly value-added chemicals. Also, it can convert raw materials to high value-added chemicals exceptionally faster than the existing industrial microorganism. Therefore, we expect that this will exceedingly improve the efficiency and economic feasibility of microbial fermentation process which has been studied globally.”

 

This research was supported by the C1 Gas Refinery Program, the Global Research Laboratory Program, the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program (Korea Bio Grand Challenge) through the National Research Foundation of Korea and Creative-Pioneering Researchers Program through Seoul National University.

A step closer to future 5G smartphones with the world’s first Antenna-on-Display

– Professor Wonbin Hong and his research team developed the future 5G antenna system with global industry members including Dongwoo FineChem, SK Telecom, LG Electronics, Keysight Technologies and Y-Tech
– Completed OTA (Over-the-Air) tests of 5G Antenna-on-Displays at 28GHz, shedding new light on how to incorporate dozens of 5G antenna within foldable, rollable, wearable future 5G smartphones

 

It has been a few years since physical key boards have been replaced by on-screen touch sensors for wireless devices such as cellular phones. This eventually triggered the modern day smartphone-era by introducing large-screen displays on portable devices. In which country was this technology first developed? The answer is Republic of Korea. This time, an innovative 5G smartphone with optically invisible antennas that are embedded within super resolution displays will be introduced to the market for the first time in the world – again from Korea.

 

On the 27th of March, a University-Industry research consortium led by Po-hang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and joined by industry partners such as Dong-Woo Fine Chem, SK Telecom, LG Electronics, Keysight Technologies, and Y.Tech announced the world’s first ‘Antenna-on-Display (AoD)’ technology. Spearheaded by POSTECH Professor Wonbin Hong’s research team, this was the first multilateral academia-industry research cooperation in Korea. The POSTECH research consortium has successfully completed field testing of this technology on a 28 GHz 5G Android smartphone platform and they expect this to expedite the deployment of new concepts for 5G devices in the near future.

 

5G is expected to be at least 20 times faster than the speed of 4G LTE. Among multiple wireless components, the antenna is one of the most critical differentiators that enables such technology jump. 5G relies on millimeter-wave frequencies which are at least an order of magnitude higher than cur-rent 4G LTE and Wi-Fi. Consequently, the signal attenuation at millimeter-wave becomes much greater, leading to the need to “clustering of the antennas” to form a dense electromagnetic beam at certain directions similar to how microscopes work. Naturally, this means 5G wireless devices require dozens of antenna in contrast to a single-digit number of antennas during the 4G era.

 

However, in the mobile industry, the lack of space to place the 5G antennas within cellular devices has been the fundamental challenge. Future smartphones are expected to be ergonomically, esthetically and technically advanced-simultaneously. Using conventional antenna technology, more number of antennas to support 5G implies an undesired trade-off situation. Naturally this paradox has been slowing down the worldwide deployment of 5G cellular devices up to present.

 

Professor Wonbin Hong of POSTECH and his research team developed an alternative that can embed antennas directly on a display and exemplified its possibility of commercialization in the future. This technology is fundamentally different from conventional antenna for cellular devices. Denoted as Antenna-on-Display (AoD), this concept enables an antenna that is designed using nano-scale fabrication technology to trick the human eye into thinking that the antenna is invisible. Using this technology, it is now possible to co-use the entire view area of high definition displays such as OLED and LCD for massive number of 5G antennas. This eliminates the trade-off relation be-tween ergonomics, esthetics and technology. The research team developed a transparent thin film with Dong-Woo Fine Chem for the AoD. LG Electronics integrated the AoD within their cellular device prototype and this was used to conduct real-life 5G trials at 28 GHz with SK Telecom. This research is significant in demonstrating multilateral academia-industry cooperation for the first time in the nation. The research is published on IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, one of the leading journals in the field of electronics and electric engineering.

 

Professor Wonbin Hong of POSTECH who led the research explained, “this is the first step of our collaborative research. Similar to how on-screen touch sensors redefined wireless devices, the Antenna-on-Display has the potential to trigger various possibilities for 5G and beyond. We expect it will contribute not only to creating innovative 5G smartphone concepts but also to enabling technology for many ideas beyond our imagination”

Mr. Jong Kwan Park, Director of 5GX Labs at SK Telecom said, “SK Telecom will continue to collaborate with POSTECH research consortium to provide the world’s leading 5G services related innovations.”

This research was partially supported by the Institute of Information and Communications Technology Planning and Evaluation which is an affiliated organization of Ministry of Science and ICT.

5/9 Visit of Group INSA Delegation

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In March 9, the delegation of Group INSA of France, lead by Director M’Hamed Drissi of INSA Rennes, visited the POSTECH campus.

President Doh-Yeon Kim and the delegation discussed future possibilities of furthering the collaboration between Group INSA and K-STAR, of which the 2 organizations formed a multilateral partnership on October 2018.

Prof. Boram Kim of INSA Lyon is also a POSTECH Graduate.

First Sod Cut for Bio Open Innovation Center (BOIC)

– Genexine, ASU, and over 20 pharmaceutical institutes to move into the BOIC
– Initiative launched to build the first Cell Membrane Protein Research Institute in Korea

 

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POSTECH cut the first sod on the site of the new Bio Open Innovation Center (BOIC) on February 26, 2019. The BOIC, an innovation platform for academia-industry collaboration on new drug research, is one of POSTECH’s signature initiatives to drive the regional development as in line with its vision of becoming a Value Creating University.

 

The groundbreaking ceremony for BOIC was held in attendance of more than 200. The guests included POSTECH president Doh-Yeon Kim, economic vice governor of Gyeongbuk province, mayor of Pohang, local member of the National Assembly (Mr. Myoung-Jae Park), president of Genexine, POSCO officials, and representatives of biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

 

POSTECH, Pohang city, and Genexine have made a joint investment in the BOIC with the aim of developing it into a new drug industry base. They anticipate that the BOIC will boost the tri-sector collaboration on new drug research, bringing the academia, industry, and research institutes closer. It will also lay the foundation for a regional industry ecosystem through incubating biotech startups and attracting firms and research institutes. Genexine, one of the co-investors, is widely known as a successful model of a biotech venture company. The once nascent startup, founded by POSTECH professor Young-Chul Sung, has now grown into a Korea’s leading pharmaceutical company.

 

Along with domestic and overseas bio companies and research institutes set to move in, the BOIC is to be equipped with a new drug development pilot plant that supports the testing and production of new drug candidates. A project bureau for the Cell Membrane Protein Research Institute (CMPRI) will also settle in the BOIC.

 

The establishment of the BOIC has been of great importance in POSTECH’s efforts to contribute to the regional development. It will serve as the focal point for developing the high value-added pharmaceutical industry and attracting enterprises with new job opportunities.

 

Gyeongbuk province and Pohang city are, likewise, taking the lead in the investment for this initiative and adding momentum to bringing in business from home and abroad, encouraging entrepreneurship, and training bio experts. They are hoping that these movements will ultimately lead to a boost in job creation in the region.

 

As part of the BOIC groundbreaking ceremony, the CMPRI project bureau kicked off on the same day with an inauguration ceremony. This project is one of the core schemes for new drug research pivoted on the PAL-XFEL.

 

At the inauguration, POSTECH, Gyeongbuk province, Pohang city, and POSCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding and agreed to support the establishment and management of the Cell Membrane Protein Research Institute. The ceremony was followed by the unveiling of the signboard of the Institute and announcing the appointment of Professor Jie-Oh Lee of Life Sciences as the head of the project. Professor Lee, listed in the top 100 rising influential Koreans, is a domestic authority in the field of cell membrane protein.

 

The Cell Membrane Protein Institute will use the PAL-XFEL, the 4th generation light source, to identify the structure of the cell membrane protein and derive candidate substances of new drug. Despite the fact that cell membrane proteins account for over 60% of the causes of diseases, the examination and analysis of their biostructure still largely remain an unsolved problem due to the complexity. The Institute, for that reason, is expected to provide a breakthrough for Korea’s new drug industry and help rise in the global market that has reached 1,500 trillion KRW.

 

Doh-Yeon Kim said, “Pohang has achieved incredible development based on the steel industry represented by POSCO, but now it is time to take a second leap. As a Value Creating University, POSTECH hopes to lead the betterment of Gyeongbuk province and Pohang city hand in hand with BOIC.”

2019 Family Field Trip

2019 Family Field Trip

 

Dear International Members,
International Relations is pleased to invite you to the 2019 Family Field Trip! On April 20, we will be visiting Gyeongju World to enjoy the warm Spring season, socialize with other international members of POSTECH, and celebrate May, “the month of family.”
We look forward to your participation!

[Time & Date]
   09:00 – 18:00, Sat, Apr 20, 2019

[Venue]
   Gyeongju World

[Schedule]
   09:00 – 09:20 Registration at POSCO Int’l Center Lobby
   09:20 – 10:00 Depart for Gyeongju World
   10:00 – 17:20 Free time
   17:20 – 18:00 Return to POSTECH 

[Participation Fee]
   5,000 won/person

[Important Notice]
※ Limited number of participants, chosen on a first-come, first-served basis, will be joining the field trip. Only those who receive a confirmation email will be able to join us.
※ For safety reasons, participants must be over 12 months and under the age of 60.
* This event is only for POSTECH-registered international students, scholars, and their family members.
* Participants are responsible for any additional charges that are not included in the entrance fee (free pass/자유이용권).
* Snacks and bottled water will be provided. As meals are not included, you may bring your own food or purchase at the destination.

– For more information on Gyeongju World, visit https://www.gjw.co.kr/Contents/contents.php

– For inquiries, please contact Ms. Dabin Jeong (dabinjeong@postech.ac.kr) of International Relations.

 

We look forward to your participation!

 

International Student and Scholar Services

International Relations

A New Novel Technology for More Hydrogen Storage in Ice-Like Crystals

[Scientists are getting closer to finding ways to store larger amounts of hydrogen within an ice-like solid]

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Recently, Professors Kun-Hong Lee and Bo Ram Lee at POSTECH have introduced a new concept for improving hydrogen storage capacity inside the structure formed by water molecules called gas hydrates.

 

Simply, gas hydrates are ice-like solid compounds including gas. In case of naturally occurring methane hydrates, it is estimated as a future energy resource since trillions of tonnes of methane are trapped as methane clathrates in nature all over the world.

 

One volume of hydrates contains about 160 times the volume of gas at standard temperature and pressure, and this leads scientists to look for ways to use gas hydrates as a medium for hydrogen storage. The main problem facing scientists so far has been storing hydrogen in the hydrate structure at milder condition consuming less energy (it typically needs at least 200 megapascals for pure hydrogen hydrates or 10 megapascals even with the injection of thermodynamic promoter), and simultaneously, increasing hydrogen capacity even at these mild conditions.

 

To overcome this intrinsic issue of gas hydrates, a team of scientists in Korea and the US (Colorado School of Mines) investigated the abnormal behaviour of metastability of gas hydrates. Here, the metastability is determined as a stable state of a dynamical system: a state that can be changed by the addition of a small amount of energy. By using the metastability of gas hydrates, they successfully made hydrogen hydrates stable at very mild pressure (0.5 to 1 megapascals) and demonstrated highly increased hydrogen storage (up to 52% larger amount) in the hydrates.

 

“If an appropriate process is designed to trap the system in this metastable state with a high concentration of gas, coupled with the benefits of hydrate self-preservation, a new paradigm will be born for gas storage in clathrate hydrates,” the researchers conclude.

 

The research has been chosen to be on the front cover (February issue) of the Journal of Physical Chemistry C published by American Chemistry Society.