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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's no secret that the largest university in the region - the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) - besides the educational mission, solves a whole range of research problems in the applied field. Including - for such a significant branch of the Russian economy, as oil and gas.

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Two years ago, in the structure of the FEFU School of Engineering, the International Research and Education Center (IREC) "Arctic" was established. In turn, one of the key units of the "Arctic" is the laboratory of ice research. It is headed by a young scientist, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in the department of hydraulic engineering, theory of buildings and structures of the FEFU School of Engineering, Egor Pomnikov. About how important for the oil and gas industry is ice, or rather, the study of its properties - the head of the unique Laboratory said in an interview with an ER correspondent.

- Egor Evgenievich, the connection is obviously direct: ice means Arctic, and the Arctic means hydrocarbon production 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 intended to consolidate the scientific and creative potential of the FEFU in the development of the shelf of the Arctic and subarctic seas. One of the main initiators of the Center is the well-known Russian and Far Eastern scientist, the director of the Engineering School of the Far Eastern Federal University, Professor Alexander T. Bekker. We are all his students, and it was under his leadership that unique field and laboratory experimental studies were conducted and conducted, original methods for determining the calculated strength values ​​of ice fields are proposed, theoretical approaches to the calculation of structures of offshore hydraulic structures (MGTS) are developed and tested, the dynamics of shelf structures are calculated etc.

It was the efforts of Professor Becker that the Russian engineering science enriched itself with such world-class results as: mathematical probabilistic model of determining ice loads for offshore oil and gas facilities and offshore underwater engineering facilities.

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

The local climate and water areas around the Russian Island, on which the FEFU is located, give an excellent opportunity to conduct seasonal research of this material (together with colleagues from other domestic and foreign scientific organizations). The so-called "ice school" under the FEFU - the official name of the international school-seminar "Ice Mechanics" - is held from 2015 year. It is a part of the unique project "Arctic". It, in turn, is realized within the framework of the FEFU Competitiveness Program.

The knowledge obtained in the course of ice research can be successfully applied in the design of any offshore structures, including oil and gas production platforms intended for operation on the Arctic shelf. After all, for their successful, long-term and efficient operation, it is necessary to determine the normative calculations of the ice load at the design stage.

- Can ice in the bays near Vladivostok have the same properties as 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 influencing its formation, it is unique. The study of its properties requires experience and a clear understanding of what characteristics need to be determined.

Arctic expeditions are very few and very limited in time at each point. Therefore, having mastered the theory in the framework of the “Ice Mechanics-2016” seminars, we moved to the practical part of the “school”. It was carried out on a specially prepared test site of the frozen Novik Bay. Ice thickness here reached 45-50 see And it allowed to carry out the necessary work safely (just in case, under the control of rescuers of the Ministry of Emergency Situations).

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

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

The main result of the "Ice School-2016" is the 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, and also with the theoretical foundations for 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 developed and constructed within your Laboratory were used ...

- Quite right. For example, we used a device developed by an employee of our laboratory, Pavel Anokhin. If you do not go into the technical details, then the principle of its operation is quite simple: we subject the ice to mechanical action and on this basis 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 (except for the physical characteristics of the ice cover itself, other environmental factors such as salinity, air temperature, wind direction, etc.) are taken into account. And initially, with the help of this installation, we sweep the upper surface of the ice, since its upper layer — exposed to external influences and changeable in its properties — does not come into direct contact with the hull structure.

All calculated variables form the basis of the mathematical model. It allows us to formulate the requirements for the geometry and composition of the material, of which the protective coatings of the bases of the mining platforms operating in the Arctic, for example, should consist. We are talking more about any hydraulic structures, the life of which depends on the aggressive ice environment. For example, bridge piers, moorings, or moving objects like icebreakers — they can all become subject to the tasks assigned to our Laboratory by one or another customer.

“It’s no secret that the ice school attracted the attention of FEFU’s main partner in the Arctic project, Rosneft.

- In general, the cooperation between FEFU and OJSC "NK" Rosneft "has a long history. Since 2011, it has noticeably intensified. More than two years ago, between the university and the corporation, a basic cooperation agreement was concluded, 2014-m A joint "roadmap" was formulated, where different areas of partnering activities are prescribed. Annually, Rosneft donates more than 15 million rubles to the FEFU Engineering School for upgrading laboratory equipment and supporting talented teachers and students. Separate agreements have also been concluded between FEFU and Rosneft's subsidiaries of research and production and design organizations.

Today, in the final stage of the conclusion, there are contracts for FEFU research and development work to be commissioned by Rosneft, as well as consulting services - for a total of more than 140 million rubles. We are talking about our participation in such projects as: the development of separate elements of the Arctic engineering system on the shelf of the northern seas (Barents, Kara, East Siberian, Laptev, Chukchi, Okhotsk); Development of the concept of a system for assessing the technical and economic indicators of offshore development; Creation of control and measuring complexes for conducting control measurements of the state of the environment on the Arctic shelf; Providing methodological support to the main areas of scientific and technological development of Rosneft.

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

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

- Oh sure. Today, in particular at the negotiation stage, the establishment of the Engineering Center on the basis of FEFU and the South Korean Shipbuilding Corporation DSME is being considered. Besides the FEFU (Scientific and Design Laboratory for the Design of Marine Engineering Structures), the Center will include DSME engineers.

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

- A few years ago, you successfully defended your thesis "Mathematical modeling of the formation of ice effects, causing abrasion of offshore structures." And how much is its theoretical part successfully implemented in practice?

- Protection took place 31 May 2012 year. It coincided that on this day the platform was launched on the water within the framework of the Sakhalin-1 project, the basis of which was just designed, partly based on the conclusions of my dissertation. In particular, the platform designers agreed with my calculations and recommendations to use concrete instead of metal protective belt.

The practical significance of my thesis is that I managed to improve the mathematical model, which formed the basis for the software package (ICeStreak) for calculating the effect of ice on hydraulic structures. Applications from this package allow to determine the ice load on the 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 this or that material will be operated and constructed in one or another geometric form. So, among amateurs the error is widespread that the most optimal form for structures in contact with water is round (streamlined). But in some cases, the wedge shape (acute-angled) is more effective from the viewpoint of the duration of exploitation, when it comes to the resistance to stable unidirectional ice drift, for example.

What material to choose - concrete or steel, for example - depends primarily on the purpose of the structure and the environment of its stay. So, the protective belt of gravity bases of mining platforms operating in northern latitudes should be made of concrete. And the icebreaker hull is made of steel. But in either case, there are lots 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.

- Is it possible to successfully combine the head 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 practical work, and it is very conducive to the development of professional skills. Moreover, our department is a graduate (research of ice impacts on the engineering structures of the shelf has been conducted on it since the 70 years of the twentieth century). Every year from its walls go from 30 to 80 graduates, bachelors, masters in hydraulic engineering. Practically all of them are employed in prestigious engineering positions in construction, design, energy companies - both in Russia and abroad. The FEFU engineering school diplomas are highly valued not only in the domestic, but also in the global labor market.

ER Help:

Egor Pomnikov, 29 years, head of the research laboratory of ice research, MNOC "Arktika" ISH, Candidate of Technical Sciences. Graduate of the Far Eastern State Technical University (FEPI named after VV Kuibyshev) in 2010. Research interests: the formation of a generalized model of impacts (ice, wave, seismic) on the engineering structures of the continental shelf, the search for optimal design options under conditions of a high degree of uncertainty of parameters the environment.
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