RUSNANO Launches New Technologies in First Quarter
Since the beginning of January five new entities have started business with the participation of the state corporation in different regions of Russia.
But, among society in general, there is not much interest in development institutions. Is it really true that the results of their activities are not very evident? Or is the problem related to the specific prejudices of the observers, who are unable to distinguish between development institutions and operational companies? And yet, when they were established these development institutions were set targets relating primarily to the technological development of the economy and the achievement of social and economic benefits through investment, including an increase in tax revenue, the development of scientific research and experimental construction work, and the creation of high technology jobs. These objectives for the nanoindustry’s development strategy were established 12 years ago. The effects of RUSNANO’s activities in the area of innovation can be assessed in one glance, simply by looking at its results for the first quarter of 2020.
Pipe heat treatment facility launched as part of joint project between TMK and RUSNANO
It would be a serious mistake to assume that there is no place for innovation in the traditional sectors of the economy. The first new nanoproject in 2020 focuses on upgrading and increase of the competitiveness of one of Russia’s leading metallurgy companies. On January 30, TMK, in partnership with RUSNANO, started operating a new pipe heat treatment facility at the Seversky Pipe Plant (STZ). With the help of advances in nanotechnology a new method for processing pipes has been developed, which involves treating them with a nanocompound, thereby increasing their strength, plasticity and resistance to corrosion by some 15–20%.
Pipe products of this type are particularly important when developing inaccessible oil fields and drilling wells in hostile conditions in the Far-North.
The new facility for heat-treating pipes with diameters between 168 mm and 370 mm has a production capacity of up to 300,000 tonnes a year. The total investment in the project to date is approximately RUB 5.5 bln, and 110 new jobs have been created.
“This project has not only created added value for the pipe manufacturer, but has also opened up new opportunities for oil and gas companies,” said Anatoly Chubais, Chairman of RUSNANO Management Company’s Executive Board.
The heat treating process is carried out in compliance with environmental standards, and almost 20 mln cubic metres of waste water used in the technological process is cleaned before being reused.
And Real Nanotubes
On the other hand, the second project launch by a RUSNANO entity this year involves the latest cutting edge technology developed by a portfolio company. The Novosibirsk start-up OCSiAl, which last year gained the status of a “unicorn” announced on February 11 that it had launched its new Graphetron 50 facility for the synthesis of graphene nanotubes. As a result of this launch OCSiAI now accounts for 90% of the global production capacity of this unique additive which is able to improve the qualities of base materials.
“Before our very eyes, a startup from the Novosibirsk’s Akademgorodok, which essentially began with one very ambitious idea—to create a completely new material of the future, has grown into a global market leader with industrial technologies for the production of graphene nanotubes,” said Anatoly Chubais.
OCSiAl produced its first batch of 1.2 tonnes of graphene nanotubes at its Graphetron 1.0 facility back in 2015. The construction of the Graphetron 50 facility in Novosibirsk began in 2016. The total cost of the project was RUB 1.3 bln. The first facility now produces 25 tonnes a year, and the second one produces 50 tonnes of nanotubes a year, which are sold on the international market under the brand TUBALL. Asia and Europe are the main markets for TUBALL nanotubes and nanotube-based compound materials.
The Turbines Are Gathering Speed
GTD 110M innovative high-power gas turbine engines
Russia’s lack of its own high-power gas turbine engines for use in the energy industry has long been a weak link affecting all plans for the development of this sector. However, on February 7 it was announced that the first Russian-made GTD 110M innovative high-power gas turbine engines will be ready for production as early as this year. The testing of the equipment was completed successfully in autumn 2019, having been operated for more than 3000 hours in the production unit of the combined cycle power plant.
The turbine project was developed by Gas Turbine Technologies IC LLC (founded by Inter RAO PJSC, RUSNANO and ODK JSC, represented by ODK) with financial support from the Russian Ministry of Trade and Industry. Once installed as part of a steam-gas generator, the turbines will operate with an efficiency index of 52%. This machine is now installed in the production unit of the Ivanovskie PGU (Combined Cycle Power Plant) and, jointly with other facilities, supplies electricity to the Unified Energy System (UES).
Harvesting the Sun’s Energy
Burzyanskaya Photovoltaic Power Plant (PPP)
RUSNANO’s fourth launch this year is a good example of the cluster-based approach, in which investments are directed straight into a number of technologies that are central to a new sector. On February 26, in Buryatia, the power plant with the largest electrical storage units in Russia, the Burzyanskaya Photovoltaic Power Plant (PPP), started supplying power to the electricity grid. The project uses three technologies that were developed with support from RUSNANO.
Liotech, a RUSNANO portfolio company, supplied it with the highest-capacity energy storage units in existence (8 MWh). The equipment was supplied in cooperation with Energy Storage Systems (owned by the RUSNANO Group Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs), a developer of intellectual solutions based on lithium-ion cells. The investor in the PPP, which has a capacity of 10 MW, was the Hevel Group, a leader in the Russian solar energy sector and a manufacturer of solar panels, which was established with the participation of RUSNANO.
The PPP’s automated system selects the optimum operating regime by analysing a large number of parameters and then deciding when to store energy and when to feed it into the network.
“This technology makes it possible to guarantee an uninterruptible power supply based on green energy sources to distant regions of the country. I am convinced that, following the example set by the renewable energy sector, we will soon see the active expansion of the use of smart energy storage systems based on lithium-ion batteries in power grids and the railway and water transport sectors, to create an uninterruptible power supply for enterprises,” says Anatoly Chubais.
Liotech’s energy storage cells are already being used in conjunction with Hevel’s solar panels in remote areas of Zabaykalsky Krai and the Tyva Republic.
The lithium-ion cells are also used in electric vehicles and uninterruptible power supply equipment. In Saint Petersburg, extended-range trolleybuses fitted with Liotech batteries have long been part of the public transport system.
According to a joint report by RUSNANO and the Center for Strategic Research, the Russian segment of the energy storage systems market could reach $1.5-3 bln by 2025, with almost half of it in the energy sector.
Wind Power Plant
RUSNANO has launched another project in the growing renewable energy sector, in which it is involved in both the localization of new equipment and the creation of generating capacity. Om March 1, the Sulinskaya Wind Power Plant in Rostov Region started supplying electricity and electrical capacity on the Russian wholesale market. This was an important milestone in the implementation by the Wind Energy Development Fund (a joint investment fund founded by Fortum OJSC and RUSNANO, on a parity basis) of a major investment programme, which will involve the construction of three wind farms with a total capacity of 300 MW in Rostov Region.
A total of 78 Vestas wind turbines, each with a capacity of 3.8 MW, will be installed in the Kamenskaya, Sulinskaya and Gukovskaya WPPs. The wind farms will start to supply electricity on the electricity and electrical capacity wholesale market (EECWM) in the first half of 2020.
The Wind Energy Development Fund won the right to build almost 2 GW of wind energy capacity in a tender for investment projects involving the construction of power generating facilities based on renewable energy sources. The wind farms should be put into operation from 2019–2023. The first joint project to be completed by the partnership was the Ulyanovskaya WPP-2, with a capacity of 50 MW. That wind farm started to supply electricity on the electricity and electrical capacity wholesale market in January 2019.
The Russian Flexible Electronics Centre (RFEC)
Beyond a doubt, RUSNANO’s most visionary launch in the first quarter took place on March 10: he opening of the Russian Flexible Electronics Centre (RFEC) based in the TechnoSpark nanotechnology centre in Troitsk, Moscow. The RFEC will be engaged in the development and small-scale production of flexible components for a variety of electronic devices. This will enable startups to gain expertise in the technologies used in the manufacture of new types of devices fairly inexpensively, and it will also help Russia find its niche in this still developing technology sector at an early stage.
“Flexible electronics is a global trend and a rapidly growing market which, according to research by international experts, will double, reaching over $70 bln a year in the next decade. Thanks to RUSNANO Group’s and Government of Moscow’s joint project to create the Russian Flexible Electronics Centre, our country has now joined this club,” said Anatoly Chubais.
The facility carries out prototyping and small-scale production of key components for a wide variety of devices, such as TFT (thin-film transistor) matrices for displays (e-paper, LCD screens and OLED displays) and sensors (biometric sensors, X-ray detectors, etc.), as well as integrated circuits for radio-frequency identification tags and sensors.
The RFEC plans to start production operations in two key areas of technology simultaneously. The first of these is already available to customers—flexible organic TFT matrices on a plastic substrate, a technology developed by the British FlexEnable laboratory. The transfer of the technologies used in the production of flexible oxide-based (or IGZO, Indium Gallium Zink Oxide) TFT matrices and integrated circuits from two R&D centres, IMEC, in Belgium, and the Holst Centre, in the Netherlands, will be completed by the end of 2020.
Wave the Blade
Sergey Morozov, Governor of Ulyanovsk Region (right) signs the anniversary blade in the presence of Makhmud Burikhanov, RUSNANO’s Managing Director for Investment Management (centre) and Kimal Yusupov, General Director of Vestas Russia.
It is impossible not to mention another event in which RUSNANO participated in the first quarter of this year, and which demonstrates the level of demand for the industrial production which has already been launched. On February 5, at the manufacturing site of the portfolio company Vestas Manufacturing Rus RUSNANO officially marked the manufacture of the 150th wind turbine blade.
These huge blades, each 62 metres long, are manufactured in Ulyanovsk from composite materials, using the vacuum infusion process, a technology which has been transferred to Russia by the Danish company Vestas, the global leader in wind turbine manufacture.
“We launched serial production in our first year of operations. I am confident that this year we will be able to manufacture more than 250 units, which will enable us to meet the growing demand in the Russian wind energy sector,” said Kimal Yusupov, General Director of Vestas Russia.
ПThe factory where the blades are manufactured was constructed on the territory of the Ulyanovsk Aviation Plant, and now has more than 380 staff. The blades are designed for wind turbines with a capacity of between 3.6 and 4.2 MW. It is planned that by 2021 the enterprise will be producing 500 wind turbine blades a year.
The partners in the project are Vestas, RUSNANO and a consortium of investors from Ulyanovsk Region, which includes ULNANOTECH, the Ulyanovsk nanocluster. More than RUB 2 bln has been invested in the project.
A Material Basis for Innovation
What do the various technologies launched by RUSNANO have in common? These manufacturing operations are concentrated in promising areas of industry which, according to forecasts, will become a new sector in the global market in the next ten years.
It is clear that, in the foreseeable future, the development of selected technological sectors will be funded by private investors, but the function of the state development institution is to create a capital-intensive and complex material foundation in those industries which startups lack the resources to develop. Investment support from RUSNANO makes it possible to scale up technologies developed by innovative businesses, where the level of risk is too high for major companies but there is nevertheless a realistic chance that the technology will be in line with future trends in the global market. Thus, by the end of 2019, 115 businesses established with the participation of the nanotechnology company were in operation in 38 regions of Russia.