Realized nuclear energy independence by designing a nuclear reactor and domesticating nuclear fuel
Led the nuclear energy policies and projects and advanced Korean nuclear energy technologies to the global level
(Late) Han Pil-soon
President, Korea Nuclear Energy Institute (1933~2015)
- Academic background
1953 ~ 1957
Graduated from the Air Force Academy (Radar Maintenance Officer)
1957 ~ 1960
Graduated from the Physics dept., SNU
1962 ~ 1969
M.S., Graduate School, Univ. of Illinois, USA; Ph.D., Graduate School, UCLA, USA (Physics)
- Professional career
1970 ~ 1982
Head of Research of Laser and Night Vision Equipment dept., National Defense Science Institute
1982 ~ 1991
President, Korea Nuclear Energy Institute; President, Korea Nuclear Fuel Co., Ltd.
1987 ~ 1989
President, Korea Nuclear Energy Society
1994 ~ 1997
Research Fellow, Korea Nuclear Energy Institute
1997 ~ 2001
President, Daedeok Club; President & CEO, Gaia Co., Ltd.
2010 ~ 2013
Advisor, Korea Nuclear Energy Institute
Röjongdneur. National Order of France
Order of Science and Technology, Creation Medal
Contained in the area of the contributors to the nation and the society, Daejeon National Cemetery
Dr. Pil-soon Han is the highest authority in the area of nuclear energy who led the Korean nuclear policies and projects to accomplish self-sufficiency of nuclear technology and enhance the technology to a globally competitive level.
Taking up the presidency of both the Korea Nuclear Energy Institute and Korea Nuclear Fuel Co., Ltd., he enhanced the profile of Korean nuclear technology to be self-sufficient. He accomplished technological independence in nuclear energy that he had aspired to so much, by successfully finishing the project to develop the Korean standard nuclear reactor by designing the nuclear reactor system as well as domesticating nuclear fuels for heavy and light nuclear reactors and develop multi-purpose research use nuclear reactors with a heat capacity of 300 MW. In the process, he continuously dispatched young researchers overseas for advanced nuclear energy technologies and greatly contributed to the advancement of the Korean nuclear energy technology to the global level with those researchers. His activities in this process were recognized internationally and he had the honor of receiving the highest national honorary medal of France, Röjongdneur.
One of his representative accomplishments in the nuclear energy area is the domestication of heavy and light nuclear reactors’ nuclear fuels. Nuclear fuels mean the matters which can obtain available energy by creating a chain reaction of nuclear fission by being inserted into a nuclear reactor. Domestication means securing the technology to process the nuclear fuel in a form of powder so that the fuel can be used for nuclear reactors. Considering the domestication of nuclear fuel is the starting point of nuclear technology independence, he established and proceeded with a project plant for nuclear fuel domestication since 1983. In the beginning stages of the project, he tried to get technological assistance from the Canada Nuclear Energy Corporation of which the plan was cancelled because of expense. Instead, he proposed to Germany a joint design method and omitted technological training but dispatched small numbers of his best researchers to learn the technologies. As a result, he accomplished the domestication of nuclear fuels by completing nuclear fuel factories for heavy nuclear reactors in 1987 and light nuclear reactors in 1989. Later, all the nuclear energy plants in Korea began to use Korean nuclear fuels.
Another accomplishment in the nuclear energy area is the development of the Korean standard nuclear reactor based on the design technology of the nuclear reactor system. Until the early 1980s, construction of nuclear energy plants in Korea has been depending on overseas technologies. As such, he determined that nuclear energy plant as well shall be made by ourselves for the technological independence of the nuclear energy, and proceeded with the domestication of nuclear reactor system design, which is the core for the construction of a power plant. A nuclear reactor system is the term indicating the whole equipment and facilities surrounding the nuclear reactor, which includes the reactor, cooling material pump, cooling material circulation pipes, pressuring equipment, and the steam generator, etc. Therefore, the domestication of a nuclear reactor system means that we manufacture various equipment and facilities ourselves and manage them by preparing the whole system. This meant the development of the Korean-style nuclear reactor. Like the case of nuclear fuel domestication, he entered into a joint design agreement with the USA and proceeded with the design of the nuclear reactor system for the Young Gwang 3rd and 4th Reactors. With the completion of the nuclear energy plant in 1996, Korea succeeded in technological independence with 95% of domestication of the pressurized water reactor with a capacity of 1,000 MW, resulting in Korea’s owning of a ‘Korean standard nuclear reactor’. With this accomplishment, Korea leaped toward a power country in nuclear energy technology and he became to be known to the world as one of the best nuclear energy experts.
In addition, he made an important accomplishment in the area of nuclear energy academically as well by developing “Hanaro”, a nuclear reactor for research purposes. As TRIGA Mark-Ⅱ and Ⅲ, introduced in 1962 and 1972, respectively, became decrepit and with the heightened level of Korean nuclear technology, Korea needed to have a new nuclear reactor with a higher capacity for research activities. Dr. Han was the person who recognized the situation earliest. He established a domestication plan for developing a research-purpose nuclear reactor for path-finding research to further develop the Korean nuclear energy technologies in the future. As nuclear energy technology independence was accomplished, he wanted to have a research-purpose nuclear reactor be manufactured for ourselves. According to his efforts, “Hanaro” was manufactured in 1995 and is still evaluated as one of the most superior research-purpose reactors in the world, being regarded as a symbol of Korean nuclear technology’s superiority.
Dr. Han has struggled for the independence of Korean nuclear energy technologies all his life, and this made Korea own the best nuclear energy technologies in the world. To commemorate his achievements, the Korean government contained him in the grave for the contributors to the nation and the society at Daejeon National Cemetery after he passed away.