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Russian Scientists Close to Producing Next-Generation Fuel

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Titan group of companies announced that it fully switches to environmentally friendly technologies and plans to reduce emissions by another 20% by 2024. The large petrochemical company is known for its developments in the field of high-octane fuel additives. In particular, in the mid-1990s the company produced the first ton of methyl tret-butyl ether, which replaced the carcinogenic compound tetraethyl lead in gasoline. This innovation reduced the negative impact of exhaust gases on the environment and became an integral element of the new generation fuel.

Those who remember what the smell was like 25 years ago in the vicinity of car congestion are well aware that this and other similar developments were a real breakthrough, which significantly improved the environmental situation in large cities. At the same time, it is obvious that we should by no means rest on our laurels since substances released into the atmosphere by internal combustion engines (ICE) are still extremely harmful to the environment.

The gradual increase in the share of electric cars in the total volume of car sales on the planet does not cancel the need for further profile studies. The vast majority of experts are sure that petroleum products will be in demand for decades to come. After all, in the case of a ban on combustion engines, which in the future are planned by the governments of some countries, electricity in these countries may become an extremely scarce commodity and soar in price to unprecedented heights. This is why developing countries in the foreseeable future will not dare to take such a radical step.

Forpost asked Mikhail Sutyaginsky, head of Titan Group of Companies, during his working visit to St. Petersburg, what research in the field of improving the environmental friendliness of fuels his company is conducting and what other areas of scientific research are of interest to him.

Mikhail, you visit the St. Petersburg Mining University relatively often. What is the purpose of these visits?

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Mikhail Sutyaginsky: Our cooperation with Mining University is developing in several directions. We are talking about personnel training as well as scientific research. We signed a comprehensive agreement for a number of developments in petrochemistry and organic chemistry. This agreement doesn’t limit us with any boundaries, because Titan’s activity is multi-vector in nature. Our Group includes both petrochemical and agro-industrial enterprises.

Together with Mining University, we have already received more than one patent that is protected by protective documents. We have a modern material base here. The synergy of our specialists and scientists from St. Petersburg University has a tremendous effect. But the potential of our partnership has not yet been fully unlocked, and there is a lot of work ahead of us.

Right now, for example, we are conducting very promising research into new high-octane components - oxygenates - which can be used, among other things, in gasoline production. By replacing one component with another, our oil companies will be able to produce Euro 6 gasoline, which will make them more competitive both on export markets and domestically. Preliminary results show that we are moving in the right direction, and this investment project could be very successful.

In addition, we are completing research on a high-cetane diesel fuel component, which will give a 40 to 60 per cent reduction in tailpipe pollutant emissions. This effect is achieved by adding oxygenates, i.e., oxygen-containing additives. Moreover, we are talking not only about reducing the impact on nature but also about improving the quality characteristics of fuel. It can be used in the Arctic even at the lowest temperatures.

You've said that you cooperate with Mining University in various areas. What is that about?

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Mikhail Sutyaginsky: For example, about research in the field of silicon organics. The company has a large project on metallurgical silicon production. And together with the university’s scientists, we conduct experiments aimed at increasing the competitiveness of by-products. First of all, micro silica, which is used in concrete mixes and mortars. It makes the material 25-50% lighter compared to conventional gas or foam blocks. At the same time, its strength is at least one-half higher. In addition, it has absolute hygroscopicity, that is, does not absorb water. This makes it possible to apply it in the construction of foundations.

This material of 1250 strength units, which is not produced in Russia today, could be in demand, let’s say, by the Rosatom company for its application in the Arctic. On the one hand, it will strengthen the structure and, on the other hand, it will make it lighter. Because these blocks do not require waterproofing.

Another area of joint research: composite materials. In particular, silicon production from the waste generated during phosphoric acid production. This product is highly demanded in radio electronics, microelectronics, solar energy, semiconductor manufacturing, melting of special steel, which increases the strength and reliability of cars and ships, and so on.

Let me repeat: our partnership with St. Petersburg Mining University has deep roots. I am sure that we have an even longer history of mutually beneficial cooperation ahead of us.