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Young scientist Yegor Pomnikov: "Knowledge of the properties of ice is the key to successful industrial development of the Arctic"

It is no secret that the largest university in the region, the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), in addition to its educational mission, solves a whole range of applied research tasks. Including - for such an important branch of the Russian economy as oil and gas.

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Two years ago, the Arctic International Scientific and Educational Center (ISEC) was established in the structure of the FEFU Engineering School. In turn, one of the key divisions of the Arctic is the Ice Research Laboratory. It is headed by a young scientist, candidate of technical sciences, senior lecturer of the Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Theory of Buildings and Structures of the FEFU Engineering School, Yegor Pomnikov. The head of the unique Laboratory told the ER correspondent how important ice is for the oil and gas industry, or rather the study of its properties.

- Yegor Evgenievich, obviously the connection is direct: ice means the Arctic, and the Arctic means the production of hydrocarbons and the equipment necessary for this?

 - Exactly. But first, a few words about the Center "Arctic", one of the divisions of which is our Laboratory.

It was conceived precisely with the aim of consolidating the scientific and creative potential of FEFU in the field of the development of the shelf of the Arctic and Subarctic seas. One of the main initiators of the Center is a well-known Russian and Far Eastern scientist, director of the FEFU Engineering School, Professor Alexander Tevievich Becker. We are all his students, and it is under his leadership that unique field and laboratory experimental studies have been and are being carried out, original methods for determining the calculated values ​​of the strength of ice fields are proposed, theoretical approaches to the calculation of the structures of offshore hydraulic structures (MGTS) are developed and tested, the dynamics of shelf structures is calculated etc.

It is thanks to the efforts of Professor Becker that Russian engineering science has been enriched with such world-class results as: a mathematical probabilistic model for determining ice loads on offshore oil and gas facilities and offshore underwater engineering facilities.

As for our Laboratory, among its main tasks is the assessment of ice impacts on hydraulic structures and assistance to designers in the creation of such MGTS, which, on the one hand, will be reliable and effective for certain conditions, and on the other, quite economical. To do this, you need to know the properties of ice.

The local climate and water spaces around the Russky Island, on which FEFU is located, provide an excellent opportunity for our laboratory staff (together with colleagues from other domestic and foreign scientific organizations) to carry out seasonal research of this material. The so-called "ice school" at FEFU - the official name of the international school-seminar "Ice Mechanics" - has been held since 2015. It is part of the unique project "Arctic". It, in turn, is being implemented within the framework of the FEFU Competitiveness Enhancement Program.

The knowledge gained in the course of ice research can be successfully applied in the design of any offshore structures, including oil and gas production platforms designed to operate on the Arctic shelf. Indeed, for their successful, long-term and effective operation, it is necessary to determine the standard calculations of the ice load at the design stage.

- Is it possible that the ice in the bays near Vladivostok can be compared in its properties with the Arctic ice?

- Ice is the same everywhere in principle - one of the three physical states of water. But in every point of our planet, due to the influence of various factors that influence its formation, it is unique. Studying its properties requires experience and a clear understanding of what characteristics need to be determined.

Arctic expeditions are rare and very limited in time at each point. Therefore, having mastered the theory within the framework of the Ice Mechanics-2016 seminars, we moved on to the practical part of the “school”. It was carried out at a specially prepared training ground for the frozen Novik Bay. The thickness of the ice here reached 45-50 see And this made it possible to safely perform the necessary work (just in case, under the supervision of the rescuers of the Ministry of Emergencies).

In total, the participants of the "school" this year examined almost eight tons of sea ice, conducted more than three hundred experiments, studied selected samples for salinity, heterogeneity, density, structure, as well as strength in compression and bending.

We determined the properties of ice both in the field and within the walls of the Laboratory, equipped with modern equipment - freezers, a test press, stands, etc.

The main result of the "Ice School-2016" is the work experience gained by students and graduate students. They got acquainted with the basic concepts of ice physics, the principles of modeling ice loads and methods of calculating engineering structures intended for operation in the Arctic, as well as the theoretical foundations of the development of oil and gas fields on the continental shelf. New knowledge will allow children in the future to become participants in large-scale projects for the development of the Arctic.

- As far as I know, during the research, unique devices were used, developed and constructed within the framework of your Laboratory ...

- Quite right. For example, we used an installation developed by Pavel Anokhin, an employee of our laboratory. Without going into technical details, the principle of its operation is quite simple: we subject the ice to mechanical stress and, on the basis of this, draw conclusions about the physical properties of the ice cover.

Field tests allow us to determine the degree of ice heterogeneity in a given area (in addition to the physical characteristics of the ice cover itself, other environmental factors such as water salinity, air temperature, wind direction, etc.) are taken into account. Moreover, initially we use this installation to clean up the upper surface of the ice, since its upper layer - subject to external influences and variable in its properties - does not come into direct contact with the hull of the hydraulic structures.

All calculated variables form the basis of the mathematical model. It allows you to formulate requirements for the geometry and composition of the material, of which the protective coatings of the bases of production platforms operating in the Arctic, for example, should consist. More broadly, we are talking about any hydraulic structures, the service life of which depends on the aggressive ice environment. For example, bridge supports, piers, or moving objects like icebreakers - all of them can become subjects of tasks assigned to our Laboratory by one or another customer.

- It's no secret that the “ice school” attracted the attention of the main partner of FEFU in the Arctic project - the Rosneft company.

- In general, the cooperation between FEFU and OJSC NK Rosneft has a long history. Since 2011, it has significantly intensified. More than two years ago, a basic cooperation agreement was concluded between the university and the corporation, in 2014-m a joint "road map" has been formulated, where different areas of partnership activities are spelled out. Rosneft annually donates over 15 million rubles to the FEFU School of Engineering to modernize laboratory equipment and support talented teachers and students. Separate agreements have also been signed between FEFU and subsidiary research, production and design organizations of Rosneft.

Today, contracts are in the final stages of signing for FEFU to carry out research and development work commissioned by Rosneft, as well as to provide consulting services for a total amount of more than 140 million rubles. We are talking about our participation in projects such as: development of individual elements of the Arctic engineering system on the shelf of the northern seas (Barents, Kara, East Siberian, Laptev, Chukotskoe, Okhotsk); development of the concept of a system for assessing the technical and economic indicators of the development of shelf deposits; creation of control and measuring complexes for carrying out control measurements of the state of the environment on the Arctic shelf; providing methodological support for the main directions of scientific and technological development of the Rosneft company.

In 2015, our employee took part in the Arctic expedition of Rosneft. It was an invaluable experience both for him and for our University. We hope that FEFU will take part in such expeditions in the future, as well as organize them in the future.

- Do you cooperate with foreign companies in the development of the Arctic?

- Yes of course. Today, in particular, the creation of an Engineering Center on the basis of FEFU and the South Korean shipbuilding corporation DSME is being considered at the stage of negotiations. In addition to the staff of the FEFU (Research and Development Laboratory for the Design of Marine Engineering Structures), the Center will include DSME engineers.

As for our Laboratory, we also have established strong ties with both design and industrial organizations of the same Republic of Korea, China, Norway, Canada, USA.

- Several years ago you successfully defended your Ph.D. thesis "Mathematical modeling of processes of formation of ice impacts causing abrasion of shelf structures". And to what extent has its theoretical part been successfully implemented in practice?

- The defense took place on May 31, 2012. Coincidentally, it was on this day that the platform was launched as part of the Sakhalin-1 project, the foundation of which was just constructed, partly on the basis of the conclusions of my dissertation. In particular, the platform designers agreed with my calculations and recommendations to use concrete instead of a metal protective belt.

The practical significance of my dissertation is that I managed to improve the mathematical model, which formed the basis of a computer program package (IсeStreak) for calculating the effect of ice on hydraulic structures. Applications from this package allow you to determine the ice load on a structure and the so-called fatigue strength. In other words, with the help of this package it is possible to predict in advance how long a structure made of one or another material and designed in one or another geometric form will be in operation. So, among non-specialists, there is a common misconception that the most optimal shape for structures in contact with water is round (streamlined). But in some cases, the wedge shape (acute-angled) is more effective from the point of view of the duration of the service life, for example, when it comes to resisting a stable unidirectional ice drift.

Which material to choose - concrete or steel, for example - depends primarily on the purpose of the structure and its environment. So, the protective belt of the gravitational foundations of the mining platforms operating in the northern latitudes should be made of concrete. And the hull of the icebreaker is made of steel. But in both cases, there are a lot of options in terms of the ratios of chemical elements that make up steel or concrete. And our program allows you to calculate the best option for a particular design.

- Can you successfully combine the management of the Laboratory with teaching at the Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Theory of Buildings and Structures?

- I think yes. I involve students in research and practice, which is very helpful in developing professional skills. Moreover, our department is a graduate department (the study of ice impacts on engineering structures of the shelf has been conducted there since the 70s of the twentieth century). Annually from 30 to 80 graduates, bachelors, masters in hydraulic engineering leave its walls. Almost all of them are employed in prestigious engineering positions in construction, design, and energy companies, both in Russia and abroad. Diplomas of the FEFU School of Engineering are highly rated not only in the domestic, but also in the global labor market.

ER Help:

Egor Pomnikov, 29 years old, head of the research laboratory of ice research, ISC "Arktika" ISH, candidate of technical sciences. Graduated from the Far Eastern State Technical University (Far Eastern Polytechnic Institute named after V.V.Kuibyshev) in 2010.Scope of scientific interests: formation of a generalized model of impacts (ice, wave, seismic) on engineering structures of the continental shelf, search for optimal design options in conditions of a high degree of parameter uncertainty environment.
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