by Vladimir BONDALETOV, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Chairman of the Istra Board of Directors, Director of the High-Voltage Study Center, Lenin All-Russia Institute of Electrical Engineering;
Sergei SAMARSKY, General Director of the Electrical Engineering Research Institute, Russian Aerospace Agency;
Vladimir BATOV, Director of the All-Russia R&D Center of the All-Russia Research Institute of Electrothermal Equipment;
and Viktor LIPATOV, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), senior researcher of the Electrical Engineering Institute (High-Voltage Study Center)
The history of what is now the Town of Istra dates back to the end of the 16th century from a few villages over there. One of them, founded in 1636, later grew into a town of Voskresensk which became a center of various crafts (since 1781) such as pottery, tailoring, smithcraft as well as weaving and sewing industries. The town got its present name (Istra) in 1930, and during the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany it was practically reduced to rubble. It was rebuilt anew in the post-war years. Then, in the 1960s, Istra was chosen as a site for several R&D centers and electrical engineering plants and moved into a period of rapid growth. The Istra of today is a modern center with more than 33 thousand residents. It lies in a picturesque river valley of the same name some 39 kilometers west of the Moscow Ring Highway.
Istra is developing as a R&D center of Russian electrical engineering, and as such it can be said to rest on three main pillars which we propose to examine in greater detail in this article.
In December 1959 Istra was chosen by Academician Andronik losifiyan*, the Director of the All-Union Research Institute of Electrical Engineering, as the site for its subsidiary which received an independent status of its own (known as NIIEM) in 1992. The bulk of its research staff were young graduates from various Russian technical colleges and institutes. Today its staff approaches two thousand and includes five Doctors and 45 Candidates of Sciences (M.S.).
One of the main areas of NIIEM research is the development of orbiting weather probes. The Meteor project, involving more than 20 different organizations, scored first results in 1969, and 1975 saw the launching of Meteor-2, a new satellite in the same series which was fully designed and built at NIIEM. The annual returns brought in by the space weather system to his country were estimated at no less than 500-700 min roubles (in 1990 prices) at the level of expenses of not more than 250 min roubles. A total of 34 such probes were launched, with each completing more than 200 percent of its estimated service life.
Further work on probes in this series produced a weather satellite of a new generation called Meteor- 3 (1983). It possessed high accuracy of orientation (which is important for greater resolution) and featured some more powerful and reliable equipment. The new probe was launched into a higher circular orbit (about 1,200 km); it had improved data collection and processing equipment and remained in operation for nearly 3 years. Its TV and infrared cameras probed the Earth and its atmosphere within a band of 3,100 km. The probe also carried instruments for measuring the spectral brightness of this planet in the visible, infrared and ultra-
* See: S. Gandilyan, "Ahead of His Time", Science in Russia, No. 2, 999.-Ed.
violet bands which made it possible to trace high-altitude temperature profiles in the troposphere, a general ozone level and its vertical distribution in the stratosphere. And the probe also monitored a radiation background in near- earth space.
Coming up next on the list of such weather satellites is Meteor-3M to be launched in the middle of the year 2000. It will have the most up-to-date equipment including a 4-channel scanning radiometer for the visible and infrared bands, an 11-channel microwave radiometer for sounding of the ocean, atmosphere and dry land, spectrometers for temperature and humidity measurements in the atmosphere, sets of monitors for near-earth space, instruments for global monitoring of the environment and climate for obtaining annual sets of changes in environmental parameters, radiation balance, etc. All of these data will be stored for subsequent transmission to regional processing centers.
Among the onboard equipment developed by the Institute, one should note a three-dimensional system of orientation and angular stabilization providing for orbital orientation accuracy of 20 ang. min. Its sensors include instruments for angular velocity measurements based on gyroscopes, a gyroorbitant and a three-dimensional meter of the Earth's magnetic field.
Special mention should be made of our guidance systems for weather satellites. Back in 1962 NIIEM experts developed the world's first electro-rocket unit with pulsed plasma motors which was installed on the first Omega probe. This was followed by low-thrust electrothermal jets used for orbital corrections of certain satellites.
For ground tests of complex ele-ctrotechnical devices in real time, including space probes, NIIEM scientists developed a testing site which makes it possible to control parameters within preassigned allowances, diagnose flaws in satellite systems, anticipate and simulate emergencies and do many other things. NIIEM scientists have developed a series of
onboard cryogenic systems for the cooling of various radiation sensors on the basis of radiation interaction with outer space. They have also developed a testing site with nitrogen and helium heat absorbers.
NIIEM scientists have been actively involved in a number of international programs for earth studies from space. And it all began with the Intercosmos- Bulgaria-1300 probe (1981). In this experiment Bulgarian equipment was mounted on board a Meteor-2 probe for comprehensive studies of the ionosphere and magnetosphere and for the prognostication of the impacts of solar events on various aspects of life on our planet. The implementation of the Soviet-American Meteor-3/
Toms project made it possible to observe and study ozone layer changes on a global scale. On the Russian side of the project, there were the NIIEM and the Central Aerological Observatory of the Weather Service (GIDROMET) of the Russian Federation; the US side was represented by the Hoddard Space Center. Starting from August 1991, the Toms ultraviolet spectrometer mounted on board the probe registered for 4 years direct solar radiation intensity and levels of scattered emissions from the Earth and its atmosphere.
In 1993 the Meteor-2 satellite was equipped with the Temisat microprobe manufactured by the German firm Kaiser-Trade Gmbh to order from the Telespacio
Company (Italy). It was intended for collection and transmission of data on the state of the environment in the Mediterranean. When the main probe was in orbit, a unique separation system developed by NIIEM experts, was activated which sent the Temisat probe on its mission. The separation system can eject what we call microsatellites of 30 to 50 kilos at velocities of 0.6-0.8 m sec. In 1994 Meteor-3 carried a Russian-French instrument - a scanning radiometer of radiation balance. The instrument is essential for climate studies and preparation of long-term weather forecasts. The same satellite also carried a high-precision Prare navigation unit
and a Turbosat separable min-isatellite (both made in Germany). The project as a whole relied on a wide network of Prare ground stations installed by the European and German space agencies.
Today NIIEM scientists are working together with their NASA colleagues on placing a Sage spectrometer on board Meteor-3'Mand minisats from Malaysia, Morocco and Pakistan.
Among other R&D projects tackled by NIIEM is the Skala system of centralized control which has been installed at various nuclear power stations. This system recorded and later "rerun" the process of the Chernobyl power reactor disaster and helped work out improved safety rules for future stations of this kind.
NIIEM scientists have also developed a unique dipping compass which is used for control of the geometry of oil wells.
The list of NIIEM latest achievements also includes an autonomous wind-cum- diesel generator, a testing stand for motors of the high-speed VSM-250 locomotive, an electric drive for light transport vehicles, a transistor welding unit TEMKOR, a set of contact-free current and tension sensors, a clip-on (long-test) instrument, fluorescent lubricant analyzer and a versatile test bed forVAZ cars. NIIEM experts have set up a successful joint venture with the Italian GAMFIOR firm which specializes in power converters.
For medical uses, NIIEM scientists have developed dosing apparatuses for medicinal preparations (DLV-1, NDL-3, DLTN-1 and 2), and electric breathing stimulators (ESD-2P and ESD-2P-NCH). Production has been started in cooperation with the Preis-Deimler firm (Germany) of glucose analyzers (ESAT- 6660). Medical tests are now in progress of an apparatus for breathing insufficiency correction, a portable and stationary electric muscle stimulator and a steam-and-oxygen tent. The more than 100 thousand instruments and 100 X- ray units for mammal cancer diagnosis developed by NIIEM experts are now in use at medical centers of Russia and its CIS neighbors.
For many years now the Institute has been the head R&D center of the Ministry of Electrical Engineering in the field of printed circuitry. The list of products and achievements in this field includes dry film photo-resistors, materials for printed grid plates, protective soldering masks, impregnation and filling lacquers and compounds, glues, fluxes, etc.
To conclude this far from complete review of NIIEM's products, we must add that all in all, more than one thousand of them have been patented in this and other countries.
Next on our list is a branch of the All-Russia Institute of Electric.al Engineering named after Lenin (VNITs VEI). This modern R&D center, now over 30 years old, has a staff of over 400, including 6 Doctors and 34 Candidates of Sciences (M.S.). It specializes in innovative electrical
equipment and science-intensive technologies for various branches of the national economy.
Basic and applied research of the center has received broad recognition far and wide, namely in the field of high and super-high tension, pulse electrophysics, generation of strong pulse electromagnetic fields in a broad range of parameters and other achievements. Specialists of the Center are quite versatile in a variety of fields - from R&D work and up to the launching of commercial production.
Recognized on an international scale is the center's basic research into spark discharges in long air-gaps and criteria of opposite (counter) discharge; and into the effectiveness of plasma-chemical processes in streamer* discharges with pulsed excitation.
VNITs VEI scientists have designed and built an advanced testing stand for experiments with high-tension and high-capacity electrical units exposed to natural and man-made electromagnetic fields**. The stand consists of several complementary units which create no problems for the environment since they are located at a safe distance from residential areas and objects sensitive to electromagnetic emissions. A super-high voltage pulse generator of 9 MV, a chain of transformers of 3 MV and a constant tension unit of 2.2 MV possess technical capabilities and parameters unrivaled elsewhere in the world. This equipment is used for lightning protection tests of aircraft and for tests of blanket insulation for very high-tension power transmission lines, and so on.
The excellent testing facilities enable the center to conduct research into a new generation of electrotechnical equipment, including pulse-tension generators for special studies; technological units for surface cleaning of equipment and high- quality coatings application from various materials. Also, work is underway on high-output power sources for a wide range of currents and tensions for technological, physics, laser, X-ray and other units; on modern switching equipment for power supply networks, distribution and factory substations.
One typical example of R&D work is offered by ORION electromagnetic emission simulators.
These were used for the first time in this country to demonstrate the possibility of generating pulses with an amplitude of up to 2 MV, front duration of 0.5-1 ns and abatement pulse of several nanoseconds.
Of considerable practical importance are also theoretical studies of magneto- pulsed and electric discharge processes; this research has led to the development of units for the cleaning of surfaces of any shape and for scale removal from heat exchangers and similar equipment. The most interesting of these units, called ZEUS and MIUS, have been patented in this and other countries. They are widely used for the
* Streamers-narrow branched channels produced by spark and corona discharges, such as lightning. - Ed.
** See: "Taming the Lightning" in this issue. - ёrf.
cleaning of heat exchangers, boilers, water supply systems and wells, and operate on the principle of high-voltage discharges in liquids. The maximum length of piping which can be cleaned in this way is up to 300 meters. This technique ensures high quality of processing, long service life, low power consumption and ecological cleanliness.
The MIUS units are based on the effect of induction-dynamic impact upon the cleaned surfaces. They are widely used for the cleaning, for example, of dry-milk tanks, air ducts in drying chambers and for the prevention of coal scaling in fuel supply systems of thermal power plants.
Another area of studies conducted by the center provides for
the safe operation of various "non-ordinary" machines and equipment, such as injectors and thermonuclear units. The center has on its menu heavy-duty electronic switchgear and power supply systems designed and built on their basis, which are unrivaled elsewhere in the world. This equipment is based on fully controlled electron-ray valves* and is intended for load modulation of equipment and emergency cutoffs in case of breakdowns. Switchers (maximum tension - 150 kV, current - 100 A) can operate both in a pulsed and continuous regimes. They combine high efficiency (0.95-0.97) and rapid response (up to 0.1 us).
Within the framework of international cooperation these devices are incorporated into the SHF system of plasma generation at a research reactor in Madrid, Spain.
High-voltage power sources with electron-ray switches for voltage of up to 30 kV and 3 A current are incorporated into SHF units and electric filters of inverse- sign power supply used in industrial gas stripping, such as those installed, for example, at Moscow central heating stations (cogeneration plant TETs-22), which considerably boosts their performance.
Working hand in hand with the ISTOK R&D Center (Fryazino, Moscow Region), the R&D center has developed highly competitive laser units on copper-vapor** and CO lasers. These compact and light-weight units combine powerful levels of emission, which can be regulated and stabilized within a broad range. By their output parameters and other characteristics
* Electron-ray valve - unidirectional-conduction electric devices: high conduction - for forward current, low conduction-for back (reverse) current. - Ed.
** See: L. Glinkin, "Metal Vapor Lasers", Science in Russia, No. 3, W7-Ed.
copper-vapor lasers are best suited, as proved by practical experience, for what doctors call transluminary laser angioplasty, that is, for the treatment of atherosclerosis because of their broad spectrum of light emission, great depth of penetration into tissues, etc. Such laser units have already been successfully tested in some of this country's leading medical centers.
Finally, a few words about yet another interesting product of the Istra-based center. This is a rapid-action switchgear which is widely used in power engineering. Such devices are based on standard electrically driven vacuum switches and have what are called induction-dynamic controls. In case of breakdowns these switches can reduce the time for actuating standby power supply from the ordinary 0.6 to 0.12 seconds, which helps prevent breaks in the technological cycle.
One can also mention a trainer-simulator for the assessment of industrial electrical systems and for staff training.
And last, but not least, we come to the third Istra "pillar", which is the Engineering and Experimental Center of the All-Russia Institute of Electrothermal Equipment (or IETs VNIITO for short). It was founded back in 1965 and now has a staff of over 600, including 50 Candidates of Sciences (M.S.).
This R&D center specializes in electrothermic devices for induction and arc heating and for electro-resistive heating. Its experts are also developing control and automation systems and devices for such systems.
One of the major problems of our technological time is waste disposal. The center has developed an unprecedented technological line for the disposal of solid domestic, medical and industrial wastes, including toxic
ones, which are reduced to building materials and safe gases. Waste disposal equipment manufactured in Istra is already in operation in many countries, including Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, India, China, Mongolia, France and Yugoslavia. IETs VNIITO experts are now working on some advanced equipment for the safe disposal of radioactive wastes.
Another area of its research are diamond tools and equipment for surface hardening of cutting tools in a glow discharge which boosts their performance by scores of times.
New electric resistance furnaces of a new generation are in good demand. They are remarkable for good reliability, low power consumption, simple ser-
vicing and small dimensions; obtainable at moderate prices, they enable quick returns on investments. This equipment can be used in research labs and also at jewellery, ceramics and glass factories, repair shops and big industrial plants.
One of the main methods of production of high-grade steel and alloys is known as electroslag remelting or refining. It provides for metal purity and uniform density thanks to oriented and slow crystallization of the ingot in a water-cooled solution. Another innovative technology is that of remelting of steels, non-ferrous metals and alloys with different catalysts and also some novel methods of production of bimetallic copper-iron ingots of different configuration. The new equipment makes it possible to produce ingots from several kilos and up to 3 tons in weight. The list of users includes such prominent names as the Serp i Molot and Prometei plants in Moscow, the Bolshevik and Krasny Vybor-zhets factories (St. Petersburg) and the Cheboksary Tractor Works, to name but a few.
As was mentioned before, boosting the wear resistance of cutting tools is a major technical challenge of this day. The IETs VNIITO center has designed methods of activating the physical and chemical processes which occur in the gas and solid phase of the chemical-thermal processing of steel and alloys. A new class of industrial equipment produced in this way are units for ionic nitriding, cementation and nitrohardening. They can be used for the hardening of various machine parts, including high-precision and heavily stressed ones, and parts operating in extreme conditions. The absence of practically any degree of deformation or warping makes it possible to do away with the labor-consuming and expensive finishing of parts.
In 1999 Istra researchers were the first in Russia to produce a specialized unit, EVT-45, for the hardening of matrixes used in the production of aluminum structures. What are called ionic cementation, or hardening units are used for carbon saturation treatment of machine parts, including the heavily stressed gear (EVT-25); and the technique of vacuum tempering in oil is employed in Sverchok and EVT-110 units.
During the years of its existence this Istra-based R&D center, working in collaboration with the head R&D Institute, has designed and launched into commercial production more than 500 models of smelting equipment for iron- and-steel and engineering plants, including AC and DC arc-smelting furnaces, ferro-alloy and ore-reduction units for various applications, induction smelters for ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and also plasma units for rare metals extraction and for the production of super-fine powders.
The equipment and devices designed and built by IETs VNIITO experts are now in operation at actually all automobile, machine-tool and roller-bearing factories and plants in this country. The range of these products includes equipment for sintering and heat treatment of powder products, composite materials, ceramics and other materials. Work is continuing on units and equipment for growing crystals of silicon, germanium and also sapphires, garnets and so on.
One of the latest products is a vacuum electric arc source which generates a separated flux of gas-metallic plasma. This flux is free of micro particles of cathode material and of the neutral component, which makes it possible - in the surface treatment of various parts - to introduce alloying additives in measured amounts into practically any material. The surface coating thus produced is free of flaws and can be of any desirable structure and composition including those based on composite materials.
This brings us almost to the end of our survey of the "Electric Town" (Elektrograd) of Istra and its main R&D centers. Now, what about its future?
Some time ago the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Fuel and Power Industry of the Russian Federation passed a special decision on Istra and the surrounding area. It was chosen as a "demonstration zone of power generation efficiency" and was integrated within an appropriate international program of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (Power Efficiency-2000). Plans have been drafted for building up a 62 hectare land patch with residential houses that will have the latest control and metering instruments, regulators and automatic systems. The main idea of this experiment consists in providing maximum comforts for the residents at a minimum of heat and electricity consumption. Istra is also launching a number of joint ventures, such as the Russian-Danish Institute of Energy Efficiency Studies.
The Istra of today lives up to its "electric town" status and reputation even despite Russia's current economic hardships. State-owned R&D centers are pursuing most promising avenues of research and keeping for themselves their often unique brainpower and retaining leadership in the nation's power industry.
Опубликовано 07 сентября 2018 года
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