It so happened that historical epochs, starting from the Stone Age, even by name are associated with materials that man has mastered and uses. The XNUMXst century opens a long period where materials with desired properties, including composite ones, will dominate. Both defense needs and civilian topics are pushing for this, from the development of the Arctic to automotive and medicine. The creation of composites is a young industry that has become established only with the development of the most advanced technologies, recalls Valery Shaposhnikov, head of the department of strength of ships and offshore structures of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Krylovsky State Scientific Center.
- In Soviet times, at that level, the development of technology and technology did not fully represent what can be achieved from the composite. For example, there was a technology of so-called contact formation of the structure, but the process was not completely controlled, and one could only guess what properties would be in the final product. How much resin you need to put on a particular surface, how you stretch the base, paste it evenly or not - everything depended on the human factor. Most of the structures were made by casting from a polymeric material. The configuration was relatively simple and did not have interesting properties that can be achieved now. When all this is done on the basis of computer technology, we can absolutely accurately control the processes just above the molecular level and predict the desired characteristics.
- What are valuable composites for shipbuilding?
- The advantage of composites is the combination of several parameters: lightness, strength, corrosion resistance, penetration or reflection of signals and radiation, and many others. Let's say we in a certain way reinforce the material at different angles, embed inside individual elements that have specified characteristics. And we can achieve the necessary properties, for example, high damping - suppression of vibration and noise on ships by dissipating energy due to the redistribution of the directions of its movements, which are extinguished inside the material. By setting certain properties, you can achieve the required noise insulation and other characteristics. For example, on such technologies, we propose to perform superstructures on a new icebreaker. They will be 1,8 times lighter than steel, reduce noise and vibration.
It is logical to make modules for work in the conditions of the Far North that can withstand ultra-low temperatures from composites. And of course, new materials are simply necessary for warships, where multifunctional structures will provide a whole range of protective properties - from booking to radio transparency, radio absorption, depending on what is required.
A unique minesweeper, the hull of which is non-magnetic, has been built at the Sredne-Nevsky Shipbuilding Plant. It is entirely made of fiberglass, which is especially important for the mine defense ship.
Composite materials underlie stealth technologies, so our new corvettes, which are built at the Northern shipyard, are called “invisible”. Moreover, a “stealth” in terms of technical specifications can be in different ways - from the point of view of reflection and absorption of signals and from the point of view of sound emission - either passes sound through, or, if necessary, on the contrary, reflects everything.
Such “invisible” technologies are, of course, also in demand on submarines. Moreover, the composite is not a plastic comb. This material is relatively expensive, although cheaper than, for example, titanium. True, the trend has already become apparent: as the technology develops, metal constructions become more expensive, and composites, on the contrary, are cheaper and more accessible.
A good alternative to titanium alloys for underwater vehicles can be acrylic, which, along with sufficient strength, has a very important quality - transparency. Abroad, from a promising material, solid hulls are already being formed for immersion at small and medium depths. In Russia, acrylics are currently used only in the construction of windows for habitable underwater vehicles. The complexity and novelty of the task is due to the fact that it is necessary to create a material in large thicknesses, in particular for a depth of immersion 300 meters requires a shell thickness of about 200 millimeters.
- So, composite products are able to compete with metal counterparts everywhere?
- We have very interesting developments related to the use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, fiberglass. If there are orders, we are ready to design and manufacture such structures for underwater fleet. Our technology allows us to do this.
The wings of future carbon fiber aircraft have already been shown on TV. We in the slipway have designed, manufactured and tested samples of hydrofoils for marine equipment. They have not yet found wide application, but they are ready for implementation.
CRI CM "Prometheus" has established the production of carbon fiber bearings. On the agenda - the release of various valves (valves, valves), which are needed in large quantities.
The Krylov Center has developed for the oil industry workers mining risers connecting the wellhead and the platform with special pipes made of composite materials, which have high frost resistance, are light and do not require additional buoyancy blocks to maintain them in the sea.
Another of our developments - insulation for the transport of liquefied gas is ready for production and is waiting for customers. Moreover, the supply of liquefied gas from the port of Sabetta has already begun, and our components may well replace imported ones, they are no worse than consumer qualities.
And still products made of composite materials are beneficial due to the extended service life or life cycle. Let the metal valve is half the price of the composite valve, but it will serve four times less. Our customers do not think about it yet.
Generally, sadly, in Russian shipbuilding only half percent of the world volume of polymer composite materials is used, and in China - 28 percent, in the USA - 14 percent.
Probably, the failure of our industry in the devastating 90s still has an effect, but the main reason, it seems to me, is still in the certain conservatism of our designers and production workers.
Engineers, designers, factory workers are ready to do anything from any iron and are not very eager for the widespread use of composites. Moreover, one more of our eternal misfortune — too long a journey from idea to implementation — is in fact already defeated. And the example of minesweepers at the Sredne-Nevsky Plant and ship superstructures for corvettes is quite convincing for any skeptics.
- What does Russia lack for a “composite revolution”?
- In order for composite materials to be used more quickly and successfully in production, to enter into life, competition is necessary - our designs will withstand it in comparison with imported analogues - and, of course, political will. Without this, the process is both slow and difficult. We developed an industry program for the introduction of composite materials in shipbuilding on 200 sheets about four years ago. It was approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, but before the implementation, by and large, it never came.
Although there is certification of domestic components, there is a nomenclature, which is advisable to release from them, the necessary production capacity and the required funds, by the way, are not astronomical. In any case, any designer, creating these or other structures, marine equipment, today can use our data and create, without resorting to any OCD, without spending any additional costs.
- Good composites require quality components. How developed is their production in Russia?
- At one time, the state invested quite a lot of money in the construction of factories for the production of components. Coal and fiberglass, various adhesive mixtures, compounds are produced in sufficient quantities with us for a successful start. Even with some excess. The Middle Nevsky Plant copes with existing orders now. But in the future, of course, local modern production facilities are also needed at other leading shipyards.
Of course, the promotion of composite materials is strictly connected with financing. In this regard, the Krylov Center as the leading institute of shipbuilding is in a special situation. We spend money, we develop and test know-how, and then we transfer ready-made semi-finished products to design bureaus and enterprises that receive real money for them. In terms of development, we are not lagging behind the global, and in some ways we are even ahead of foreign competitors. However, the market for composite materials is developing very rapidly, and it is necessary to invest in the creation of new components and products.
- Before investing, these funds need to be found somewhere ...
“Of course, it would be useful if our leading raw materials companies, end users of high-tech civilian products, were interested in these developments.” But they swing slowly, relying on proven metals for decades and not rushing to introduce something new that will pay off and bring profit only in the foreseeable future. Therefore, serious investments in the development, production and promotion of composite materials have to be expected only from the state. As, however, it is accepted in the world in part of all basic research. And in this regard, the adoption of an interdisciplinary federal materials science program at the level of the country's top leadership would benefit.
Composite materials are no longer a miracle. This is a working tool for which the future. And the future is not worth saving.
For example, finally, the development of the Arctic has become one of the key areas of Russian state policy. The Northern Sea Route comes to life - 2017 million tons of cargo were transported along the polar route in 8,5, and by the year 2022 it is projected to increase to 40 million tons. In our Arctic zone is concentrated up to 30 percent of the global reserves of mineral and hydrocarbon raw materials. Currently, up to 25 percent of the predicted volume of deposits is localized, exploration, development and industrial development are ahead. All this will require the creation of a wide range of surface and underwater technical means. Without composite materials is not enough.