Biofuels made from sawdust, oil fields laser exploration and remote power supply for drones.
The winners of the XII All-Russian contest the “Energy of Youth” proved that the future has already come. November 19, in Moscow, Russian Energy Minister, a member of the Board of Trustees of the"Global Energy", Non-profit partnership, Alexander Novak, will award the winners of the XII All-Russian contest of Youth scientific projects, the “Energy of Youth”. Research teams from Korolev, Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg will receive one million rubles each to encourage the continuation of their studies. Their technologies will solve the issue of new biofuel production and remote power supply of the aircrafts, as well as will bring Russian geological exploration to a new level.
Young scientists who are currently under the age of 35 from 51 different regions of Russia competed with each other to get the grant. The winners are determined by the group of independent experts - the same as those who evaluate the work of the nominees for the Global Energy Prize. Each project has great prospects of practical application and commercialization.
For instance, a team of young scientists from Korolev under the lead of Ivan Matsak will be able to increase the flight time of drones up to 24 hours without recharging. Today such devices can be used without changing the battery only for 25-30 minutes. The Method of “charging at a distance” is quite simple: a small solar battery is mounted to a drone and a laser beam is directed to it from some remote point. The sun itself is a source of energy which is not powerful enough to solve this problem. Ivan Matsak states that “Drones are already used everywhere, for the needs of police officers and firefighters, to film clips and observe the life of wild animals. In future, they will bring us food in restaurants and take the goods from online stores. The main problem is to solve the issue of power supply.” The technology can be also used in robotics and space: to charge nano- and micro-satellites. Ivan Matsak’s research team is also planning to get access to foreign markets - priority is given to China, Singapore, India and to the Middle East countries.
Sergei Kasheev from St. Petersburg and his research team know how to detect oil and gas with a super powerful “laser pointer”. Laser sensing will not only help to determine the presence of energy resources, but also will allow forecasting of oil and gas fields’ potential and selection of the best point for deep drilling. Moreover, the method can be applied at a distance, for example, from an aircraft or helicopter during the aerial survey. It turns out that from an aerial view, with the help of special devices one can catch a cloud of hydrocarbon molecules over any area, either land or sea. A model of the laser analyzer that is currently being developed by Kasheev’s team has ultra-high sensitivity, i.e. it can respond to even a very small accumulation of heavy hydrocarbon molecules. Its effectiveness does not depend on the weather, moreover, the device is able to process the received information by itself and then send it to the center. This research method is much faster than its counterparts: for example, manual method of analysis would require from 3 to 5 days analyzing 1 square kilometer of territory, whereas Kashcheev’s “laser pointer” will need less than a day to do the same thing. According to the scientist, the main “consumers” of this technology will become Russia's largest energy companies. Thus, they will be able to solve the problem of field research in difficult context, e.g. Arctic shelf. Prospective foreign markets are Saudi Arabia, the United States, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
Alexey Bychkov, from Novosibirsk, and his colleagues developed biofuels of new generation. Young scientists were able to significantly improve the efficiency of widely known bioethanol. Traditionally, biofuels are produced from agricultural and wood industries waste products: sawdust, straw and even rice husks. Derived material consists of two components: carbohydrates and lignin. The greater the percentage of the latter, the higher the combustion temperature. Bychkov’s team was able to increase the proportion of lignin by crushing the raw material; this allows it to enter into chemical reactions easier and to get rid of the “unnecessarily” carbohydrates. The percentage of lignin in the obtained substance is 3.5 times higher than the average market results and accounts for 70%. The technology enables to produce fuel from renewable raw materials and fully addresses important environmental issues. Today Russia produces more than 270 million tons of waste in crop production and about 70 million tons in the wood processing industry every year. And no more than 1 million from this number is actually being used. The rest of the waste is being burned or left to rot in the open air. For comparison, the United States use biomass to produce up to 70 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, Germany - more than 40 billion. Starting from 2010 China is also speeding up in using this technology and has already overtaken Brazil and Japan. Bychkov team’s project may help to eliminate the backlog in the field of biotechnology. “Experts predict that by 2050, humanity will be able to obtain up to 38% of fuel consumption and up to 17% of electricity from biomass. Besides, the energy intensity of biomass is much higher than of other green energy sources such as wind, sun and waves” - says Alexei Bychkov.
As a recall, the All-Russian contest of Youth scientific projects the “Energy of Youth” has been held annually since 2004. Over the last 11 years, 191 young scientists from 43 research centers have received the grant. The total amount of allocated funds is RUB 35.5 million.
The award ceremony will be held on November 19, 2015 in Moscow's Gostiny Dvor (plenary hall “Amphitheater”). Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak will personally present the award to the winners. The event starts at 10 a.m.
Federal and regional media are also invited to cover the event. Preliminary accreditation is obligatory.
The list of winners:
1. Alexei Buchkov. Institute of Thermal Physics named after S. Kutateladze, Siberian department of Russian Academy of Science. Theme of research: Mechanochemical Synthesis of new types of solid biofuels from renewable raw materials. (Novosibirsk).
2. Sergei Kasheev. University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO University). Theme of research: Aviation Raman lidar for search of oil and gas fields (Saint-Petersburg)
3. Ivan Matsak. National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute). Theme of research: Remote power supply of aircraft and robotic devices with infrared radiation on Earth and in space. (Korolev).