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AOL France /9 février, 18h03
Les scientifiques russes demandent à Poutine d'arrêter la fuite des cerveaux
Известные ученые России обратились к президенту Владимиру Путину с просьбой принять меры против «утечки мозгов», угрожающей, по их мнению, будущему российской науки.
Des scientifiques russes de renom ont appelé lundi le président Vladimir Poutine à prendre des mesures contre la fuite des cerveaux, qui menace selon eux l'avenir de la science en Russie, lors d'une réunion du Conseil sur la science et les hautes technologies.
Entre 1990 et 1998, le secteur de la science en Russie "a perdu plus d'un million d'employés, soit plus de 54% de ses cadres", certains chercheurs ayant quitté le pays, d'autres ayant changé d'emploi, a expliqué le recteur de l'université Lomonossov de Moscou, Viktor Sadovnitchi, au cours de la réunion à laquelle assistait M. Poutine. Le Conseil sur la science et les hautes technologies réunit une vingtaine de chercheurs réputés, membres de l'Académie russe des sciences, dont le prix Nobel de physique Jaurés Alferov. La "deuxième vague de l'émigration scientifique", qui a débuté à la fin des années 90, est marquée par "le départ des plus jeunes chercheurs, spécialistes dans les domaines les plus modernes et les hautes technologies, dont les mathématiques, la physique et la biovirologie, la génétique et la biochimie", a regretté M. Sadovnitchi. "Près de trente mille chercheurs travaillent à l'étranger sur contrat et une partie d'entre eux n'ont pas l'intention de revenir en Russie, où les salaires ne sont pas comparables avec ceux que peuvent proposer les employeurs étrangers", a souligné le recteur. "S'en vont ceux qui ont le plus de talent et qui travaillent avec le plus de productivité", a-t-il relevé, ajoutant que la recherche scientifique en Russie avait "des problèmes qui ne peuvent pas
être réglés sans la participation du président". "Le financement de la science a été multiplié par 2,5 depuis l'an 2000 et celui de l'éducation par plus de trois. Ce n'est peut-être pas suffisant, mais c'est ce que l'Etat peut faire en tenant compte des possibilités du budget" national, a souligné de son côté Vladimir Poutine.
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gateway2russia / 02 February 2004 11:31
While the Oil Barons Sleep
Два года назад в Институте Катализа создана новая высокоэффективная технология очистки нефти и нефтепродуктов
"Do you understand what you've done?! Now, we have two options. Either we kill you or chuck the whole oil-refining industry!" This is how the industry's major players reacted when they heard about the new technology developed two years ago by scientists at Novosibirsk's G.K. Boreskov Catalysis Institute, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In contrast to the traditional multi-stage process, the Novosibirsk technique refines oil in only one stage. The process yields high-octane gasoline and high-quality diesel oil that meet even the tightened environmental regulations recently introduced in Europe. Most importantly, however, the production of excellent quality fuel using the new technology costs several times less than older methods. The Catalysis Institute is no typical Russian academic establishment. Throughout its history, its scientists have only rarely pursued pure scientific curiosity. As a rule, they have been guided in their research by the needs of various industries. Virtually all developments at the Institute have found their buyers. The new, single-stage technology is no exception. At the Expert's second Russian Innovation Competition, the know-how from Novosibirsk took the British Council prize. It is already in use at several companies.
The light fractions
The discovery from Siberia only involves the so-called "top," the light fractions of crude oil that are refined into gas and diesel, and not fuel oil. Using traditional refining technology, after initial distillation, the gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fractions are each further refined via separate processes. Thus, one method for refining the gasoline fraction into high-octane gas involves hydrotreatment (which removes sulfur and nitrogen), reforming, and alkylation. The diesel fraction is generally refined into what is referred to as "winter-grade diesel" in Russia and undergoes hydrotreatment and dewaxing. For more than a hundred years of this technology, each fraction has been processed separately using separate catalysts. Platinum catalysts are used in reforming, cobalt-molybdenum catalysts in hydrotreatment, and platinum and palladium catalysts in dewaxing. There have been many attempts to shorten this long chain and optimize the process, but all innovators were hampered by a single pre-existing assumption. They believed it was impossible to refine several different fractions at the same time (meaning in one reactor with one catalyst). The Novosibirsk scientists, however, proved them wrong.
The super catalyst
The new, single-stage method, when everything is processed at the same time, is called Binary Motor Fuel or BMF technology. It is very simple: after primary oil distillation, all light fractions are fed into one reactor block where the refining process takes place. Then, the resulting compound is directed into a dividing block where it is split into three final products, high-octane gasoline, winter diesel, and propane-butane. The last fraction yields a liquefied gas that can be used as both a household and automotive fuel. The beauty of the new method lies in a unique catalyst that is loaded into a reactor. The idea of a catalyst that could process heavy and light fractions at the same time without the processes interfering with each other occurred to Gennady Yechevsky, Doctor of Chemistry and the Head of the Catalytic Hydrocarbon Transformation Laboratory. He assumed that if a catalyst's structure were transformed in a special way, its active centers (the special areas of a catalyst where specific chemical reactions can take place) would occur with non-uniform density. In this case, diverse reactions, such as aromatization, alkylation, cracking, desulfurization, and isomerization, could take place at the same time on these active centers. The speed ratio of these reactions would allow all fractions to be processed in same amount of time, without clogging the active centers. The entire lab group, a scientifically strong team with several promising developments for the oil-refining and petrochemical industry to its credit, got to work on the new technology. Together they invented an industrial synthesis technique for this elegant catalyst. The method for redistributing active centers in the volume of a catalyst constitutes a fundamental innovation, as the material scientist chose to use in the new process – high-silica zeolite – is nothing new. The lab ran pilot trials of the new method in 2001, just one year after the discovery of the super catalyst idea. The first experimental industrial trials were already underway in August 2003. They proved Yechevsky's theory.
Clean, cheap, and beautiful
Thanks to BMF technology, the oil refining process has becomes considerably simpler. It no longer involves complex and costly processes, such as hydrotreatment (and cumbersome and troublesome hydrogen facilities), reforming, isomerization, alkylation, dewaxing, and various rectification stages. Capital expenditures are six times less and operating costs are at least eight times less, compared to the traditional process. BMF technology also uses at least four times less energy. The BMF catalyst– in contrast to the expensive and touchy noble metals used in the traditional process – is convenient in all respects: it is cheap, non-aggressive, and undemanding to boot. There is one more essential advantage to the Novosibirsk technology: it can refine oil with absolutely any concentration of sulfur compounds. When refining "dirty" oil using traditional method, hydrotreatment costs increase dramatically. Sulfur has to be removed, as it rapidly destroys the catalysts used in the next refining stages. Therefore, oil refineries are not eager to accept oil with high sulfur content for further refinement, because costs are too high. Russia, however, has a large amount of high-sulfur oil. The new zeolite catalyst isn't afraid of sulfur at all. That's why it doesn't matter in BMF technology how much sulfur the raw crude contains. Gulping up "sour" crude with ease, the BMF method yields fuel with a sulfur content of less than 0.001% (whereas under Russian state standards, 0.05% is considered good). Another advantage of BMF technology is the low benzol content of the resulting fuel. Benzol is carcinogenic when burned and Russian state standards set an upper limit of 5% for benzol concentration in fuel. The maximum benzol percentage under European standards is 1%. BMF technology produces fuel with a benzol content of less than 1%. BMF technology also produces excellent winter diesel. Traditional diesel fuel is considered high-quality if it remains liquid at -35єC. The Novosibirsk fuel doesn't freeze even at -75єC. If oil is refined using the traditional process, about 25% of the gasoline turns into a gas and is lost. BMF's developers have outperformed the older method here, too. They have succeeded in achieving much higher liquid yield, the most valuable fraction. The maximum "gas losses" run less than 18%. However, even this 18% cannot really be called a loss. The propane-butane content of this gas is as high as 95%. "A patent search has shown that there is other technology of this kind anywhere in the world. We already have four Russian and two international patents for a number of variations of BMF technology. Seven more patent applications for the innovations we made during our work are currently under consideration," Yechevsky says.
The BMF technology presents a radical break with existing oil refining processes. This, however, prevents BMF technology from be applied immediately industry-wide. It is not that simple to fit the new technology into the complex, multi-stage production cycle at oil refineries. While waiting for a response from "big oil," Catalysis Institute officials have focused on promoting their technology in more limited niches, where smaller oil refineries are being set up from scratch. These include plants in remote and hard-to-reach areas, in particular in the Far North. Building oil refineries using the Novosibirsk technology also proves economically sound when developing new oil deposits. Secondly, the new technology is ideal for processing "problem" crude with large amounts of sulfur or paraffin. Plants bluntly refuse to accept some grades of this kind of oil, and in such cases there is simply no commercially viable alternative to BMF technology. There is one more promising market. Using the new technology, it would be possible to process gas condensate efficiently, as the liquid fraction is separated from the gas produced in order to send only residue gas through the main pipeline. Gas condensate is an ideal input for BMF technology. It is a mixture of mainly light oil fractions, and its fuel oil content is very low. The developers also hope to fuel the ambitions of regional politicians for promoting BMF technology. Officials in regions without their own oil refineries often want motor fuel production in their area to avoid price gauging at crucial moments like sowing and harvesting. Using BMF technology, they could build a compact and inexpensive oil refinery on a regional scale
© Copyright Gateway to Russia 2003
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ITAR/TASS / 29.01.2004,19.27
Russia Academy of Sciences may be exempt from paying for land
Российская Академия наук может быть освобождена от платы за землю
MOSCOW, January 29 (Itar-Tass) -- The Duma committee for property has supported the bill of Academician Zhores Alferov suggesting the exemption of the Russian Academy of Sciences and its institutions from the payment for land, Viktor Pleskachevsky, the chairman of the committee, told the press.
"The committee has endorsed the amendments to Russia's Land Code suggested by deputy Alferov under which the Russian Academy of Sciences and its institutions will be exempt from the payment for land on the same basis as state institutions," Pleskachevsky said.
According to the Land Code, plots of land are provided for termless use to state organisations only while other enterprises and organisations must either buy them out before January 1, 2006, or to acquire the right of lease of plots of land on which they are situated.
The presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Tass that the academy, under its charter, is a non-commercial organisation with a state status, rather than a state institution.
"We have supported this approach as the funding of academic institutions is yet low and the payment for plots of land used by the academy consume considerable part of the funding," Pleskachevsky said.
He said the bill would have the first reading at the plenary meeting of the State Duma in early March.
© ITAR-TASS. All rights reserved
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Itar-Tass / 30.01.2004, 11.38
First Russo-American technology symposium
Первый русско-американский симпозиум по сотрудничеству двух стран в области высоких технологий
PALO-ALTA (CALIFORNIA), - The first Russo-American technology symposium is currently under way at Stanford University here. Its purpose is to promote the Russo-American contacts in the field of science-intensive technologies.
Co-Chairman of the Symposium and Russian Acting Minister of Industry, Science and Technology Andrei Fursenko told Itar-Tass that the forum's main task and end-goal should be to improve the relationships between partners in both countries. He expects the symposium to serve as a catalyst for the promotion of cooperation in this domain.
President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia Andrew Somers shared this view.
The main goal is to achieve better understanding among American investors, he noted. At present, U.S. investors in information technologies have, as a rule, a very faint idea of the opportunities offered by the Russian information technology market and of its potential, he added. Therefore, the current symposium will help them acquire a better understanding of the situation, Somers pointed out.
In turn, President of the Boeing-Russia/CIS Company Sergei Kravchenko, who is representing the Boeing Corporation, described the symposium as a very useful meeting of leaders of the Russian and American science-intensive industries, wishing to cooperate with each other.
© ITAR-TASS. All rights reserved.
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Vietnam news nagency / 02/04/2004
Viet Nam, Russia to strengthen research cooperation
Россия и Вьетнам подписали соглашение о сотрудничестве в области научных исследований
Ha Noi, Feb. 4 (VNA) -- Representatives of the Vietnamese and Russian governments on Wednesday signed a supplement protocol on further cooperation in scientific research at the Viet Nam - Russia Tropical Centre.* * *
Signatories were Senior Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Huy Hieu, President of the Vietnamese section in the Joint Committee for Viet Nam - Russia Scientific Research and Tropical Technology and Paplov D.X, member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The protocol provided the centre with another function in the training of scientists.
Established 15 years ago, the Viet Nam - Russia Tropical Centre, has become an effective model of cooperation between Viet Nam and Russia under their strategic partnership. Established 15 years ago, the Viet Nam - Russia Tropical Centre, has become an effective model of cooperation between Viet Nam and Russia under their strategic partnership.
The New York Times / Published: February 1, 2004
Uut and Uup Add Their Atomic Mass to Periodic Table
Команда российских и американских ученых под руководством Юрия Оганесяна, работавших на циклотроне в Объединенном институте ядерных исследований в Дубне, заявила о том, что ею были синтезированы два новые искусственные сверхтяжелые элемента, занявшие 113 и 115 ячейки таблицы Менделеева.
A team of Russian and American scientists are reporting today that they have created two new chemical elements, called superheavies because of their enormous atomic mass. The discoveries fill a gap at the furthest edge of the periodic table and hint strongly at a weird landscape of undiscovered elements beyond.
The team, made up of scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, is disclosing its findings in a paper being published today in Physical Review C, a leading chemistry journal. The paper was reviewed by scientific peers outside the research group before publication. "Two new elements have been produced," said Dr. Walt Loveland, a nuclear chemist at Oregon State University who is familiar with the research. "It's just incredibly exciting. It seems to open up the possibility of synthesizing more elements beyond this."
The periodic table is the oddly shaped checkerboard — with an H for hydrogen, the lightest element, in the upper-left-hand corner — that hangs in chemistry classrooms the world over. Each element has a different number of protons, particles with a positive electrical charge, in the dense central kernel called the nucleus. The number of protons, beginning with one for hydrogen, fixes an element's place in the periodic table and does much to determine an element's chemical properties: ductile and metallic at room temperature for gold (No. 79), gaseous and largely inert for neon (10), liquid and toxic for mercury (80).
Elements as heavy as uranium, No. 92 on the list, are found in nature, and others have been created artificially. But much heavier elements have been difficult to make, partly because they became increasingly unstable and short-lived. Still, for roughly half a century, nuclear scientists have been searching for an elusive "island of stability," somewhere among the superheavies, in which long-lived elements with new chemical properties might exist. Dr. Loveland said that the new results indicated that scientists might be closing in on that island.
"We're sort of in the shoals of the island of stability," said Dr. Kenton J. Moody, a Livermore nuclear physicist who was one of the experimenters in the work.
"It's an amazing effect," he added. "We're really just chipping away at the edges of it."
The experiments took place at a cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator, in Dubna, where the scientists fired a rare isotope of calcium at americium, an element used in applications as varied as nuclear weapons research and household smoke detectors. Four times during a month of 24-hour-a-day bombardment in July and August, scientists on the experiment said, a calcium nucleus fused with an americium nucleus and created a new element.
Each calcium nucleus contains 20 protons and americium 95. Since the number of protons determines where an element goes in the periodic table, simple addition shows the new element to bear the atomic number 115, which had never been seen before. Within a fraction of a second, the four atoms of Element 115 decayed radioactively to an element with 113 protons. That element had never been seen, either. The atoms of 113 lasted for as long as 1.2 seconds before decaying radioactively to known elements.
Scientists generally do not give permanent names to elements and write them into textbooks until the discoveries have been confirmed by another laboratory. By an international convention based on the numbers, element 113 will be given the temporary name Ununtrium (abbreviated Uut for the periodic table) and element 115 will be designated Ununpentium (Uup).
Dr. Loveland said he agreed that the new elements would require independent confirmation before they could receive final acceptance. And he conceded that the Dubna find was likely to receive more than the usual amount of scrutiny: two years ago, the reported discovery of Element 118 was retracted after a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was found to have fabricated evidence.
Copyright 2004The New York Times Company
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Science a Go Go / 2 February 2004
Melting Siberian Peat Bogs May Unleash Huge Quantities Of Methane
Таяние сибирских торфяных болот может освободить огромное количество метана
Massive Siberian peat bogs, widely known as the permanently frozen home of untold kilometers of moss and uncountable hordes of mosquitoes, also are huge repositories for gases that are thought to play an important role in the Earth's climate balance, according to newly published research by a team of U.S. and Russian scientists in the journal Science. Those gases, carbon dioxide and methane, are known to trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, but the enormous amounts of the gases contained in the bogs haven't previously been accounted for in climate-change models.
The new research, said Laurence Smith, an associate professor at the University of California and primary author of the paper, could help to refine those materials. Smith's work was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). A key finding of the research, unrelated to modern climate change, is that the bogs themselves came into being suddenly about 11,500 to 9,000 years ago - much earlier than previously thought - and expanded very rapidly to fill the niche they now occupy. Their appearance coincides with an abrupt and well documented spike in the amount of atmospheric methane recorded in ancient climate records. The finding counters previously held views that the bogs were largely unchanged - and unchanging - over millennia. The rapid appearance of the bogs provides strong evidence that this is not the case.
Scientists have hotly debated the origin of the methane spike, variously attributing it to sources in tropical wetlands and offshore sediments. The new research conclusively points for the first time to Siberia as a likely methane source. But the researchers also point out that the bogs - which collectively cover an area of roughly 603,000 square kilometers - have long absorbed and held vast amounts of carbon dioxide, while releasing large amounts of methane in the atmosphere.
If, as many scientists predict, a regional Arctic warming trend thaws the bogs and causes the trapped gases to be released into the atmosphere, that could result in a major and unexpected shift in climate trends, according to the researchers. The teams spent three seasons in the Siberian Arctic, drilling several meters down into the sphagnum moss to produce the peat samples for analysis. Smith said thawing of the permafrost would essentially turn the carbon and methane balance in the peat bogs from a scientific constant in climate-change equations to a variable.
"Traditionally, we had thought these areas were simply a gradually varying source of methane and an important sink for atmospheric carbon," he said. "They've been viewed as a stable thing that we always count on. The bottom line is Siberian peat lands may be a bigger player in climate change than we knew before."
"There are natural sources of greenhouse gases out there that are potentially enormous that we need to know about," Smith said. "One of the concerns is that up until now, the bogs have been more or less a sink for CO2, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In an extreme scenario, not only would they stop taking up CO2, they would release a lot of the carbon they have taken up for centuries." Smith conceded that the team searched their Siberian peat samples for evidence that such a drastic release of gas occurred in the past, with inconclusive results.
But, he added, as other research into Earth's ancient climate begins to yield evidence that changes have occurred before, accounting for unknowns such as the carbon and methane balance in the bogs becomes more important. "It emphasizes a point that has been emerging over the past few years; the idea that the climate system is highly unpredictable and full of thresholds that can trigger greenhouse gas sources and sinks to abruptly switch on and off," he said. "The more of them we can identify, the more accurately we can model and anticipate changes in the future."
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