Skip to main content

What are the most promising inventions of St. Petersburg scientists from Rospatent’s ranking?

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

The Federal Service for Intellectual Property has published a nationwide ranking of legal entities - universities, research institutes and commercial companies that have filed the largest number of electronic patent applications in 2022. In the top 6 of the list is the St. Petersburg Mining University. Its scientists sent online 90 requests for protection documents confirming the exclusive rights of the university for various inventions and utility models. All of them were approved.

In what directions is Russian science moving today? And to what extent are the results of researchers' work demanded by business? As it turned out, some developments are truly unique and have no analogues not only in our country but also abroad. Investors often queue for such innovations, because their commercialization promises to bring serious profit.

For example, the Department of Oil and Gas Transportation and Storage at the Mining University has developed a device for detecting water accumulations in pipelines. The name, frankly speaking, does not give the fullest idea of the capabilities of this miniature device, the size of a tennis ball. Through its capacitive and acoustic sensors, it is able to provide the operator with information on a variety of peripeteia that threaten the safety and productivity of fossil fuel transportation. For example, about leaks or illegal taps.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

"This ball is launched directly into the pipeline and moves along it with the flow of hydrocarbons, recording some or other technological complications that arise in the process of pumping. Similar devices are used abroad, but they are less informative, for example, they are not aimed at detecting water accumulations. Besides, our balls have a more advanced algorithm of leakage detection and can efficiently work on descents, ascents and steep turns of oil and gas pipelines up to 90 degrees", said one of the authors of the project, PhD student Enver Dzhemilev (the research team also includes the leader Vladimir Pshenin, students Lyubov Rozanova and Maxim Komarovsky).

The "smart ball" only passed the first stage of tests, but it has already caused a furor at the Moscow International Salon of Inventions and Innovations "Archimedes". Top management of several energy companies was interested in it. There is nothing surprising in this, because the mass introduction of this technology will significantly improve the safety of transportation of raw materials and reduce the cost of its pumping.

Another very interesting project for oil companies is the wellhead valve heater. A check valve is a device installed in the wellhead line to relieve excessive pressure. The problem is that when the temperature drops significantly, and many of our fields, as you know, are located in the Far North, its components freeze and form a cork that limits the fluid flow through the pipeline. That is, it reduces the flow of oil.

газпром нефть

Oddly enough, there is still no universal way out of this situation. Some engineers, in order to avoid losses, entangle the valves with heating cables or cover them with cumbersome but not very effective covers. Others act in the old fashioned way - they wrap a thick layer of glass wool around them, which is then wrapped in a film on top. In principle, they achieve their goals, but the operation of removing this "armor" (and sooner or later it has to be done, for example, to repair equipment) turns into a real ordeal.

Workers cut their hands, pieces of glass wool are scattered on the tundra for kilometers around the well, and reusing the material often becomes impossible. Given that the drilling site is often hundreds of kilometers away from developed infrastructure, the valve can be left unprotected for extended periods of time after all the necessary work is done.

"Our device is very easy to operate and can be repaired quickly and inexpensively if necessary. The presence of insulating material guarantees effective heating of the valve, the heating cable is in special grooves, that is, it does not need to be coiled and unwound. Among the undoubted advantages of our model is easy mounting and dismounting. It is a single structure, which is put on the annular space of the fountain fitting and fixed with special fasteners. Obviously, the commercialization of this technology will contribute to easier working conditions of oil and gas production operators", - says Elena Safiullina, associate professor of chair of oil and gas fields development and exploitation of Saint-Petersburg Mining University, who together with her student Damir Muktasipov is the author of the project.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

The young man recently did an internship in Yamal and was personally convinced of the great demand for such technology. As well as the fact that engineers really use "grandfather's" methods for heating check valves. But their use not only complicates people's lives, but also has a negative impact on nature.

"I have watched the dismantling of glass wool. It disintegrates into many large, medium and small fragments that are almost impossible to collect for subsequent disposal. The wind carries them across the tundra, and they not only litter the unique in its beauty, but also fall with food into the stomachs of deer, foxes and other animals. Our unit uses ecowool as a heater, so it will not cause any damage to the environment," explained Damir Muktasipov.

A real breakthrough is the patent obtained by a group of scientists from the Scientific Center "Problems of mineral and technogenic resources processing" of Mining University. They have developed a method of producing needle coke that is in demand in the space, chemical and metallurgical industries. For example, graphite electrodes are needed for steelmaking in electric arc furnaces, which are consumed in the production process and consist 85% of needle coke.

The problem is that it is not produced in Russia; domestic consumers buy it abroad. At the same time the percentage of the yield of light oil products, gasoline in particular, is extremely low at our refineries and on average barely exceeds 70%. The rest is fuel oil or tar, which are becoming less and less in demand due to the toughening of environmental norms and regulations. If the technology proposed by the scientists of the Mining University is implemented, it will be possible to produce needle coke instead.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

"We offer a ready-made scientific and technical solution that allows us to produce a product whose quality corresponds to the standards generally accepted in the world. The pilot plant we designed and assembled is as good as analogues in specialized foreign laboratories, such as Japanese laboratories. We have already established optimum properties of incoming raw materials, technological parameters of the process and equipment operation modes, as well as received several experimental batches of needle coke. Now we are ready to test the technology at the level of industrial tests," emphasized Vyacheslav Rudko, Executive Director of the Scientific Center for Problems of Mineral and Man-Made Resources Processing at the Saint Petersburg Mining University (the patentees also include Igor Pyagay, Director of the Center, Renat Gabdulkhakov, a graduate student, and Maxim Starkov, a student).

Last year, scientists from Russia's oldest technical university received a total of 70 patents for inventions, 25 patents for utility models and 72 software registration certificates.