Russia's top ten technological advances in 2020
Vladimir Putin suggested declaring 2021 the Year of Science and Technology. This initiative is not accidental - despite the sanctions of the West and the pandemic, the innovative economy is increasingly taking the lead in Russia. What are the main scientific and technological successes achieved by domestic scientists and industry in the past year?
After the events of 2014, many experts predicted the "technological isolation" of the Russian economy. This belief was based on the well-known opposition of two economic models: protectionism and free trade.
The usual assertion of supporters of free trade is that protectionism and the closure of the national market lead to the decay of the economy, while freedom of trade, on the contrary, leads to the prosperity of the country. It was in this logic that the developed countries of the West wanted to “colonize” Russia in the early 1990s. Then our country was offered to "quietly pump oil and gas", and everything a little bit technological and innovative - to buy abroad. Everything is in the logic of the 19th century English economist David Ricardo, who graphically calculated the example of "exchanging English wool for Portuguese wine" and proved that it is better for Portugal to grow grapes, and England - to raise sheep, so that later it is profitable to exchange these goods in free trade.
Exactly the same scheme was proposed after the collapse of the deeply "protectionist" USSR and Russia. They say, let everyone do what they do best: the US produces computers and airplanes, and Russia just pumps oil. We were convinced: Russians, stop thinking about the hi-tech you inherited from the USSR, you will earn three times more if you throw all the country's forces into oil production!
However, in the real world, they try to turn "wool for wine" into "glass beads in exchange for land." One of the countries (colony) is becoming increasingly dependent on the world leader (metropolis). After which the colony lags behind in the civilization race - and often forever. All this was proven by another economic genius - the Austrian Daniel List.
Therefore, they expected just such a scenario from "Russia of 2014": agony in the grip of Western technological sanctions, and then - the surrender of any political and economic independence.
Diamonds under our feet
Now, in 2020, it became clear that the scenario for the technological isolation of our country did not work. Robust Russian protectionism and self-reliance have proved stronger than the free trade primacy that the United States is trying to abuse. 2020 has become a time of demonstration of the final technological advances that have become the results of the efforts of previous years and even decades. Let's try to compile a rating of these successes - the ten main scientific and technological breakthroughs of our country in the outgoing year.
1. First place should be given, undoubtedly, to the Russian vaccine against the new coronavirus "Sputnik V". The vaccine was urgently developed in just a few months, but this was the result of the titanic work of previous years at the Center. Gamalei. For several years, the Center has been working on the creation of a vaccine against MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Virus) - and it turned out that this work could become the main one for the development of a vaccine against coronavirus. Several more COVID-19 vaccines from other Russian research centers are on the way.
2. Towards the very end of the year, a new domestic MS-21 airliner undergoing tests took off - and this happened for the first time with a new domestic engine PD-14. There is no doubt a colossal technological breakthrough. There are fewer countries producing such aircraft engines in the world than countries capable of putting a man into space.
3. The unique floating NPP “Mikhail Lomonosov” was put into operation in the middle of this year and supplied the first light and heat to the power grid of the Chukotka city of Pevek. Such floating nuclear power plants are a real salvation for the remote coastal regions of our country, a major technological achievement - and a very likely expensive export product for other countries of the world.
4. In space, the achievement of Russian technologies was the first X-ray survey of the cosmic sky, which was carried out by the Russian space observatory "Spektr-RG" . We now know almost ten times more X-ray sources at four times the resolution than on the former best in the world so far in the world celestial map of the German orbiting observatory ROSAT, obtained back in 1990.
5. The first flight of the new Russian Il-114-300 aircraft took place, which should become one of the main instruments providing transport connectivity to the country's regions. Russian airlines need hundreds of such machines. And for her, again, an aircraft engine of a new modification was created.
6. The first Russian-built Aframax-class supertanker was put into operation (we will describe in more detail the significance of this event below).
7. The heavy rocket "Angara-A5" made the second test launch, which means that Russia gets the prospect of making its own lunar, and perhaps even the Martian program - only rockets of this class ensure the delivery of the corresponding payload into orbit.
8. Russian nuclear reactor of new generation VVER-1200 was put into operation for the first time abroad, at the Belarusian NPP. This means further expansion of the Russian nuclear industry, confirmation of the safety and reliability of its technologies.
9. Scientists of the Kurchatov Institute, together with specialists from Moscow universities, Moscow State University and MEPhI, have registered for the first time solar neutrinos - particles formed inside our star in the course of a complex thermonuclear CNO cycle in which carbon, nitrogen and oxygen interconvert into each other, simultaneously using on it is hydrogen and "producing" helium.
10. Scientists from the Russian University of Chemical Technology (RCTU), together with colleagues from the Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University, have proposed a new technology that allows you to obtain pure ammonia using membrane purification and modern absorbents. Thus, the maxim that fundamental and applied science interact with each other, giving rise to new technological orders, was once again confirmed. It is possible that the old process of obtaining ammonia, the so-called Haber process, which has been feeding the whole of humanity for more than a century, providing about 2/3 of the necessary nitrogen for the growth of agricultural plants, will soon become part of history. This process has remained practically unchanged since the beginning of the 20th century, and its main "Achilles' heel" was the enormous consumption of heat and electricity. The famous "green revolution" in agriculture is, first of all, the expenditure of energy at all its stages, from fertilizers and pesticides to harvesting. Now, a method has been invented to produce ammonia with energy consumption an order of magnitude less than before.
Dig deeper, look wider
Each of these technological advances is just a kind of "media point" that clearly demonstrates the result of previous, long-term and purposeful efforts. For example, take the news of the creation of the first Aframax-class supertanker in Russia. Aframax is perhaps the pinnacle of world tanker construction. In the entire history of the tanker fleet, such vessels were produced only by a dozen of the most technologically advanced countries, for which the largest and most advanced shipbuilding enterprises were used.
At the same time, the lead supertanker Vladimir Monomakh went through the entire construction cycle, from metal cutting to the delivery of the ship to the customer in just over two years, at the level of the best world standards. Well, if you take into account the fact that the entire series of supertankers will comprise 12 vessels, of which three more, following the Monomakh, are already under construction at the Zvezda shipyard in the Far East, then the whole scale of the new shipbuilding program will sparkle with completely different colors.
Let's try to understand the complexity of the task of creating a ready-made supertanker in the country. After all, shipbuilding, like many other industries, is, in fact, only the end consumer, which depends on the mass of supporting enterprises from other industries. For example, a supertanker also includes huge sheets of ship steel two centimeters thick, for which we had to start producing special railway platforms in the country for transporting such oversized cargo. Not to mention the fact that the very production of ship steel for an Arctic-class supertanker is a separate challenge, already for metallurgists.
Or we can take the fuel that Vladimir Monomakh needs more than one hundred tons - in its work it will use highly environmentally friendly motor fuel of DMF type III standard. The sulfur content in such fuel does not exceed 0.5 percent, which fully complies with the requirements of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). For the production of such fuel in Russia, Rosneft has carried out a large-scale modernization at the Komsomolsk refinery, where production in accordance with the DMF standard was fully mastered this year.
In addition to 12 supertankers, the same Zvezda is now building five Arc7 gas tankers for the Russian Arctic LNG-2 project, also laid down this year. A gas carrier is a much more technologically advanced vessel than a bulk tanker. Moreover, according to the terms of the order, Zvezda will have to not only lay down, assemble and paint the ship's hull, but also mount components for maneuvering - this item includes rudder propellers, which have so far been mostly imported and not manufactured in Russia. In addition, the shipyard must also install a cargo system, that is, membrane tanks in which liquefied gas is stored, which is also the most advanced edge of modern shipbuilding. Moreover, all five gas carriers must be handed over to the customer, Novatek, also within the shortest possible time - by the end of 2022.
But, again, even gas carriers will not be Zvezda's most technologically advanced order! Now its slipways are loaded with Arctic supply vessels and elements of huge Arctic offshore platforms.
Unique vessels are also being built on Zvezda, which no one else in the world can do yet - we are talking about super-powerful icebreakers of the Leader type according to the LK-120Ya project. Such ships simply have no analogues in the world, other Arctic powers have not even come close to the Russian level of the icebreaker fleet. And Russia is going to launch the first icebreaker of this series by 2027 and by the beginning of the 2030s have at its disposal a fleet of three such "masters of the Arctic".
Where should Russia go next?
I would like to believe that our country, albeit with difficulty, was able to find its way to the future. Moreover, a road different from the recipes of the free-trader Ricardo, "according to the precepts" of which many African countries are forced to live today, each of which was contracted to produce their own monoculture - be it cocoa, coffee, diamonds, copper or bauxite. Such countries do not have their own national economic policy, there is no independent economy and, moreover, there is no technological progress.
All these victims of free trade have become only "cogs" in the global division of labor, and in the most recent and dirty roles. At old banquets in the castles of English feudal lords, such poor relatives were called "sitting at salt": a salt shaker usually closed the set of prestigious dishes served to the owners at the beginning of the table, and at the end of the table only leftovers fell to those "sitting at salt".
In 2020, Russia not only showed, but also proved that it will not "sit for salt". Our country has regained its technological leadership and is no longer going to "exchange oil for glass beads" of Western high-tech.