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German scientist explains why cooperation with Russia is a necessity

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Фото © Eric Kemnitz

Director of the Institute of Energy Process Engineering and Chemical Engineering of the TU Bergakademie of Freiberg (Germany), Bernd Meyer, met with the rector of the Mining University, Vladimir Litvinenko, in Saint-Petersburg to discuss collaboration. “Forpost” found out the specifics.

- The meeting was dedicated to jointly developing new, more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies applicable to various sources of raw materials in Russia. Today, Russia needs innovations that will improve efficiency of mining and processing of minerals, while Germany, in turn, is interested in stable supply of raw materials.

One of the joint projects of the Mining University and the TU Freiberg Mining Academy is advanced processing of coal into environmentally safe syngas, that can be used to produce a number of products that are in demand by chemical industry, for example Methanol. The price for it is quite high now, hence, this project can be theoretically profitable. But how practical is it?

- Both Vladimir Litvinenko and I are realists, and we are preparing-technical solutions for the future together. It is necessary to understand that coal today competes with cheap sources of raw materials, such as natural gas and oil, which are abundant in Russia. We think that advanced coal processing is promising in remote regions such as the Arctic, and the Far East. There are chances for the implementation of such technologies.

The best basis for processing coal into chemical products is raw materials, which, due to low quality and high ash containment, are not applicable for traditional use: metallurgical purposes and even power generation. It is important for us to apply the technologies we are working on to such low-grade coals because they are often considered waste and are not used now. If we manage to create economically expedient technological chains for processing such raw materials, then it will be quite possible to bring this project to practical use.

These technologies are much more eco-friendly in comparison with the original, based on the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore, I am confident that they can be competitive and in the future, we will be able to find niches where we will implement them.

Фото ©

The TU Freiberg Mining Academy and the St. Petersburg Mining University stood at the origins of the Russian-German Raw Materials Forum, where scientists, politicians, and businessmen from both countries come. They believe that it is important for us to develop cooperation, not to cut it back. In your opinion, how important is it to maintain a dialog between our nations?

-Personally, I am of very high opinion of the importance of this platform, especially today. Being in such complex political environment, this is forum stands as one of the few remaining channels for dialog. Here experts, scientists and politicians with decision-making power have an opportunity to hear and understand each other.

Many young people from Russian and German universities participate in our conferences. The time will come, and they will take responsible offices in business and politics. So, it is very important that they contact each other, learn the cultural characteristics of their peers from another country and their mentality. This will help our nations strengthen social connections in the future.

The founders of the Russian-German Raw Materials Forum – are the two oldest mining universities in the world: the TU Freiberg Mining Academy and the St. Petersburg Mining University. It is very symbolic that we continue to cooperate, build bridges and develop joint scientific projects.

An International Competence Center for Mining-Engineering Education is being established under the auspices of UNESCO at the Mining University. How important you think it is and what contribution the TU Freiberg Mining Academy is ready to make?

Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко

-First of all, I would like to congratulate the Mining University on establishing the Competence Center. Thanks to it, the St. Petersburg University will acquire a very serious position among the resource universities around the world and will play an even more important role in international integration. I believe it is right that the Competence Center was founded in St. Petersburg because Russia has the richest reserves of raw materials in the world, and the Mining University is the leading specialized university in your country.

One of the Center's missions will be to intensify joint scientific research. We have determined a number of subjects on which the TU Freiberg Mining Academy will join the Center’s work in the future. In addition, we are interested in increasing academic mobility of students and teachers. The Competence Center has the same goal; therefore we fully support the idea of its creation and plan to make a feasible contribution to its work.