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First Russian Scientist to Receive Organometalics Prize; Ecologist Urge To Prevent The Lake from Tourists

Yesterday in Philadelphia the outstanding Russian chemist, Head of the Laboratory of Cluster Catalysis of St. Petersburg State University and Head of the Laboratory of Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry of RAS, Corresponding Member of RAS, Valentin Ananikov was awarded with Organometallics Distinguished Author Award Lectureship by American Chemical Society.

Valentin_Ananikov Valentin Ananikov

The prestigious award was established by the American Chemical Society (ACS), which is the largest scientific organization that brings together leading scientists, chemists from all over the world. Valentin Ananikov became the first in the history of ACS Russian researcher to be awarded with the prize, which was awarded to him for the discovery of the phenomenon of the catalyst dynamic nature in organic synthesis reactions (experts also call it “the catalyst cocktail”).

Russian scientist and his colleagues recorded the process of transformation of the catalyst, which takes place in the retort in the process of a chemical reaction. “We found out that the catalyst passed from the molecular state to the cluster shape, and then it turned into a nanoparticle. Also right in the course of the reaction the reverse process began: the transition from the nanoparticle to the cluster and back to the molecular complex again. At the time of the chemical reaction in the retort “the cocktail” of different catalytically active centers was formed”, - Valentin Ananikov comments.

Catalysis is the basis for most industrial processes. For example, catalysis by metal complexes is used for processing of hydrocarbons, natural raw materials and large-scale synthesis. Metal catalysis by nanoparticles enables to carry out fine organic synthesis, get pharmaceutical substances and produce medicines. The discovery of the Russian scientist will help to understand the nature of catalysis and get closer to solving the issue of regeneration and reuse of expensive catalysts, that is, the problem with which the leading scientific centers of the world have been dealing for decades.

After receiving the award, Valentin Ananikov told that he had been working hard to make his discovery for many years. “The first years of work didn’t bring the expected results, the observed phenomena couldn’t be deciphered. But then, with the help of new high-precision equipment, we were able to see how the catalytic reaction was occurring and we managed to fix the “cocktail” of catalyst particles. Since then, we regularly discover new chemical phenomena in nanodimension. And this success is, in many ways, connected with the ability to use the latest equipment, including equipment of St. Petersburg State Science Park, which is nowadays the best resource center complex for physical and chemical researches in Russia” - the scientist noted. He added that he planned to extend the work on the study of catalytic reactions, which are of great practical importance: “In the future we will have much more exciting discoveries in the most interesting and mysterious area of modern science. And in our laboratory of St. Petersburg State University, we are waiting for researches of active young scientists, but only of those who are not afraid of serious work!”

According to the journal of the Siberian Branch of RAS “Science in Siberia”, in the meantime, the expedition on Lake Bolshoye Shchuchye in Gornokhadatinsk Biological Reserve (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District) was finished. Employees of the Institute of Water and Ecological Problems of the RAS and the Scientific Research Center of Arctic were studying hydrological, hydro-chemical and hydro-biological characteristics of the reservoir ecosystem.

Bolshoye Shchuchye is the lake of tectonic origin. Its uniqueness consists in the fact that it is located in the polar latitudes in the area unaffected by ??economic activity and can serve as an indicator of climate change and other ecological processes.

During the expedition water and sediments samples were taken from 16 areas of the reservoir, in order to determine the total mineralization and composition of ions and contaminants (heavy metals). With the help of sonar, scientists established the maximum depth of the lake. In the middle of the reservoir it reaches 163 meters. “These are the approximate data that require additional confirmation,” – the leading researcher of the Center for Arctic Study, Alexander Pechkin explained.

The group of hydrobiologists studied the inhabitants of the bottom, represented mainly by caddisflies in the coastal zone. There is enough food for the fish in the lake, says the researcher of the Center for Arctic Study, PhD, Alexander Krasnenko.

“Bolshoye Shchuchye is a well-balanced aquatic ecosystem with extremely clean water of a greenish color and the transparency, according to the white disk, of more than five meters. The content of oxygen dissolved in the water at all horizons from the surface to the bottom of the lake is up to 15 milligrams per liter, and in a layer from the surface down to 25 m is higher than 100 percent of saturation. This indicates a low content of organic substances in the water and favorable living conditions for fish and other inhabitants of the lake” - the head of the expedition, head of the Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology of IWEP RAS, Associate Professor, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Vladimir Kirillov said. According to him, other chemical characteristics of Bolshoye Shchuchye will be apparent judging by laboratory study results in IWEP RAS in Barnaul.

Despite the attractiveness of the lake, with its beautiful banks, clear water and high biological products including fish, the environmentalists don’t recommend to develop mass tourism, since it can adversely affect the unique ecosystem of the reservoir. Recreational activities here should be strictly controlled. Especially considering the fact that Bolshoye Shchuchye and its catchment basin are included in the list of the specially protected natural territories. Scientists suggest including of the lake in the international research program of tectonic lakes, which currently includes Baikal and Teletskoye.

The expedition was organized by the Department of Science and Innovation of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, the Interregional Expeditionary Center “Arctic” and the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration.

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