Libmonster ID: BY-1584
Author(s) of the publication: Marina MALYGIIA

by Marina MALYGIÍA, journalist

The International Committee on Global Energy Awards named two winners at a solemn meeting held in Moscow at the ITAR-TASS press center on April 18, 2013: Academician Vladimir Fortov (Russia), Director of the Joint Institute of High Temperatures (RAS), who made noticeable contribution to studies of thermophysical properties of plasma and development of powerful pulse energy devices, and Akira Yoshino (Japan), Dr. Sc. (Tech.), General Manager of Yoshino Laboratory, who developed innovative lithium-ion cells for information and communication devices, electrical and hybrid transport facilities.

The Global Energy is the first personal award in the world fundamental and applied science granted for outstanding discoveries and studies in power engineering. The idea of moral and material incentives of talented national and foreign scientists, researchers and specialists in this sphere was suggested by Zhores Alferov in 2001 at a meeting with the RF President soon after receiving the Nobel Prize. Later, in November of 2002, at a summit of the leaders of Russia and the European Union Vladimir Putin made a public announcement about institution of "a Russian Nobel in power engineering" (an unofficial name of the Global Energy award). Its first winners in 2003 were American Professor of the Illinois University Nick Holonyak for a fundamental contribution to the creation of silicon power electronics and invention of semiconductor LDs in a visible spectrum and also Russian academician and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Gennady Mesyats and Ian Smith from the USA for a fundamental research and development of powerful pulse energy industry. Since then 29 scientists from Great Britain, Germany, Iceland, Canada, Russia, the USA, Ukraine, France and Japan became winners of this prestigeous award.

The financial fund of the award is formed by leading national energy companies as members of the Nonprofit Partnership. This year its sponsors are Gazprom, Unified Energy System Federal Net Company (FSK EES) and Surgutneflegaz. Andrei Kazachenkov, First Deputy Chair-

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man of the Board noted at a press conference: "The Federal Net Company supports granting of the international award for six years running. We consider it an honor to participate in this event and always strive to support studies in power engineering. We have worked out a long-term program of innovative development, which is recognized as one of the best in the Russian Federation. We think that modernization of the electrical net complex is impossible without development of fundamental and applied science." The next speaker Vyacheslav Ni-kiforov, Deputy General Director of Surgutneftegaz informed that the monetary value of "the Nobel in Energy" would make up 33 mln rubles in 2013.

According to the press conference moderator Igor Lobovsky, President of the Nonprofit Partnership, innovations are introduced this year into a procedure of nomination and selection of award winners, which will allow to make awards from organizational point of view most significant in the world. The creation of an Institute of International Experts is one of the major innovations. He pointed out that at the first stage more than 2.5 thous. scientists from 57 countries received application forms for nomination of their candidates to become winners. By the way, such right have Nobel Prize holders, as well as holders of the Global Energy award, international awards of Kyoto (Japan), Max Planck (Germany), Wolf (Israel) and Balzan (Italy) and also members (including foreign members) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who represent the Earth sciences, physical, chemical and materials sciences, power engineering, mechanical engineering, mechanics and control processes. As a result, the International Award Committee received 82 application forms. Then a group of 40 experts analyzed each of them and made a short list of 8 candidates. At its final meeting on April 17 the committee, headed this year for the first time by the foreign specialist Rodney John Allam from Great Britain, chose by secret ballot two of them--Vladimir Fortov and Akira Yoshino. Their names were kept secret, and only at a press conference Allam, in the recent past himself a winner of two prestigious prizes, the Nobel Prize in 2007 and the Global Energy in 2012, disclosed the secret and announced a short list of the nominees. Apart from the said winners the list included Igor Gorynin and Ashot Sarkisov (Russia), John Goodenough and George Olah (USA), Rashid Yazami (Singapore) and Antonio Luque (Spain).

In line with a current tradition Allam and Chairman of the Supervisory Council Academician Nikolai Laverov congratulated the winners by phone in the presence of journalists and wished them every success. The award holders thanked the International Committee and promised to carry on their studies related to handling energy problems on our planet. Vladimir Fortov said: "It is a great surprise and honor to become a winner of the award which is considered rightfully the most prestigious in power engineering. This award belongs not only to me

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but also to my coworkers with whom we made complex calculations and difficult experiments in the sphere of extremely high pressure and temperature."

The journalists took the opportunity to enter into dialog with the award winners, and their first question concerning the money received stumped Yoshino. After a long pause the professor admitted that he had not thought of that yet but he knew best what further steps he should take in the professional field. He connected them with elaboration of new battery systems, opening up new vistas for mass use of such energy sources in electromobiles.

The representatives of mass media asked the top management of the International Committee whether the fact of annual election of Russian scientists as laureates could not be regarded as a kind of pressurizing from above? Allam responded: "The nomination procedure for the Global Energy award is absolutely transparent." And Igor Lobovsky added: "I see that it might seem a directive but it is not so. The Regulations for the Global Energy state: any nominee irrespective of country of residence can become a winner. For 11 years of the award existence 29 persons from 9 countries have become our winners. Decision is taken by the International Committee as a result of secret ballot."

At the press conference Nikolai Laverov highly appraised the achievements of both applicants and their contribution to the development of energy infrastructure, creation and introduction of innovations and breakthrough technologies. He made an emphasis on practical importance of their works.

One of the award winners Acad. Fortov started his activities in science in the 1970s from unique experimental and theoretical studies of dense plasma properties. The calculations made by the young scientist at the Department of the Institute of Chemical Physics of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Chernogolovka near Moscow (today the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences) led to the creation of general theory of construction of semiempiri-cal wide-range equations, which allowed an all-round description of substance thermodynamics in different aggregate states with account of phase transformations. When Acad. Yakov Zeldovich presented Fortov's research work at a session of the USSR Academy of Sciences, he

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noted that a set of his studies testified to the emergence of a new field of research, i.e. dynamic physics of non-perfect plasma.

Besides, the scientist studied thermomechanical, kinetic and strength characteristics of structural materials, explosives and solid rocket propellants under action of pulse shock-wave loading. The accumulated experience proved useful early in the 1980s, when a group of experimenters headed by Acad. Roald Sagdeev set about to implement the International Vega Space Program to study the Venus and Halley's Comet. Within the limits of a project implemented in 1984 two space vehicles Vega-1 and Vega-2 were created, which met high requirements of anti-meteorite protection. This problem was handled by Fortov. Together with his coworkers he carried on a set of computational and physical experiments and elaborated a model of Vega screen disintegration under action of micrometeorite impact. The created protection fulfilled its mission, and the utilized computer codes were adapted later to handling of problems of asteroid hazard*.

Laverov noted that Fortov's works on electrical network protection, especially at an early stage of electric power transmission to the consumer, have become a recognized practical contribution to science. For example, short-circuit current originates often in high-voltage networks of 220 kV and more. In such cases you should act immediately: to switch off electrical line, to redistribute electrical loads on a real time basis and thus to avoid an accident. But it needs new modern methods of heavy current limitation. At the Joint Institute of High Temperatures of the Russian Academy of Sciences** headed by Fortov since 1992 special breakers are developed, which can break kiloampere circuits for several microseconds.

Another similar problem was also solved here. When the lightning strikes at an electric transmission line, the electrical network becomes overloaded, short-circuits, malfunction of automatics and other failures take place. Mobile sources of pulse currents have been developed at the institute for ground tests and checking of current

See: L. Zeleny, V. Yesin, A. Kokoshin, "Asteroids, Comets: Danger!", in this issue of the magazine.--Ed.

** See: V. Fortov, "Up the High Temperature Scale", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2011--Ed.

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limitation systems and efficiency of other electrical equipment. Adjusted to a full-scale simulation of a spark discharge, they can nevertheless be located in a production truck body. Such equipment can provide tests for immunity of not only electric power lines but also atomic power plants, telecommunication equipment, missile systems and other large-scale objects to the action of electric current and electromagnetic field of the lightning.

A set of experiments "Plasma crystal" conducted now under supervision of Vladimir Fortov to study structural and dynamic properties of plasma-dust crystals and liquids in a wide range of temperature and pressure has become rather promising in terms of application perspectives. Started in 1998 in cooperation with the Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics of the Max Planck International Society and the German Space Agency on the Mir orbital complex, the experiment proceeds now on the International Space Station. For more than a decade the scientists carry out experiments on ionized gas freezing in weightlessness. They resulted in obtaining the so-called dust plasma which contains electrons, plus ions and neutral particles, highly charged specks of dust of a micron size which promote formation of ordered structures, i.e. plasma liquid or crystals. Similar formations are widely spread in nature (planetary fascia, comet tails, interstellar clouds), and are also met in thermonuclear fusion units. Vladimir Fortov told in his interview to the

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Noviye Izvestia newspaper: "As soon as mankind learns to produce dust plasma, it will find a way to radically new technologies." It can be used, for example, in electronics in microcircuit production and also in artificial diamond growing. There are also other attractive fields of application for plasma-sprayed crystals. In his opinion, they can be used for creation of a unique "vacuum cleaner" to deactivate radioactive wastes in nuclear accidents and also a brand new type of engines for space vehicles, which will substantiate stellar world missions.

Nikolai Laverov spoke about professor Akira Yoshino as a top specialist in rechargeable lithium-ion cells, the most popular power source for cellular phones, notebooks and digital cameras. They are also considered promising for use as drive batteries in electric transport.

The first ideas of lithium-ion cells appeared early in the 1950s, but efficient lithium-based devices were created only at the end of the 1980s due in many ways to works of Akira Yoshino.

In 1972 Yoshino received the Master's degree in mechanical engineering in the Kyoto University, one of the best in Japan, and joined the Asahi Kasei company specializing in chemical industry products and production of electronic devices. He set about to study and create rechargeable lithium cells for the company products and market promotion.

Lithium is a very light metal, twice lighter than water. However, it possesses a high electrochemical potential. This property allows creation batteries and accumulators of a very high density of conserved energy with minimal sizes and mass. Their market price is estimated now approximately at US$ 2 bin annually.

The first production lithium accumulators appeared in the 1980s and possessed superior properties for their

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time, i.e. they were rapidly charged and discharged and had adequate capacity. But at an increased number of charge-discharge cycles dendroid (with dendritic branching structure) lithium crystals formed on anode, which penetrate to cathode and thus provoke intercell short circuit. Therefore, usage of the first generation of lithium accumulators was limited due to high explosion hazard.

Devices based on lithium cobaltite (LiCoO2) absorbed on coke anode and cathode became commercially successful. In case of observance of discharge-charge conditions these cells proved to be quite safe in terms of explosion and are now widely used in products of the Sony company (Japan).

The innovative studies of Yoshino relate to the next generation of accumulators (called lithium-ion ones*), on which he worked since 1981 (he completed the main concept in 1985 and commercialized the product in 1992). A new system of batteries differed by the fact that they used carbon as anode, graphite--a laminated structure having a rather sizable "clearance" between layers, into which other atoms can penetrate. Such property has also lithium: during a charge-discharge process of the accumulator, it forms LiC6 compound, in which metal atoms are introduced in graphite. Besides, the reaction of its formation is reversible as at a charge process carbon is filled with lithium, and at a discharge process the latter comes out of it. It allows avoiding of appearance of the said "dendrites" on a lithium anode. Lithium cobaltite (LiCoO2) was used as a classical cathode. For his innovative work in the field of accumulator batteries Yoshino received awards of the Chemical Society of Japan (1999), the Itimura Development Fund (2001) and the Japanese Institute of Inventions and Innovations (2003).

Lithium-ion accumulators possess a great potential and enable scientists to improve them. In 2003 specialists

See: M. Khalizeva, "Lithium-Ion Accumulators From Siberia", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2012.--Ed.

of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) for the first time suggested lithium ferrophosphate (LiFe-PO4) as a cathode material. This compound is the most promising for industrial use. For example, operation of an electric motor car with such accumulator is much cheaper than a gasoline car. Cheap, safe, highly energy-efficient and ecofriendly batteries for transport are today a matter of Yoshino's interest in science.

At a press conference the journalists did not miss an opportunity to ask Acad. Laverov about achievements, discoveries and inventions providing new potentialities in the development of power engineering, which could be suggested for the International Global Energy award in the coming years. Laverov, who recently visited the shale oil and gas fields in the USA and participated in discussions of the problems of their development, said that we should wait for breakthrough discoveries just in the sphere of alternative hydrocarbon sources. According to specialists the total reserves of shale oil in the world amount to about 650 trln tons. Up to 26 trln tons of oil-based raw material can be produced out of this quantity. Probably the volume of shale oil is 13 times more than the reserves of conventional oil. Under the present levels of consumption these energy resources will be sufficient for over 300 years of continuous production. Laverov concluded: "I can say that the United States for the first time in their history solved in reality the problem of ensuring the highly developed economy with their own hydrocarbon material. I believe that our committee cannot ignore this fact."

Illustrations from the site of the International "Global Energy" award and other internet sources


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