Blow up a diamond mine

Blow up a diamond mine

  • Valery Dolmatov, head of the intensive technologies SKTB "Technologist": "Our technology - the pride of Russia.  In this area of carbon materials at our command - wide priority in the world "
  • Valery Dolmatov, head of the intensive technologies SKTB "Technologist": "Our technology — the pride of Russia. In this area of carbon materials at our command — wide priority in the world "


It is amazing but true that up to 60% of dust suspension formed after the explosion of conventional military explosives, — artificial diamonds the size of 4-7 nm. They are formed in the center of the explosion at high temperatures and pressures of the conventional carbon, which is known to be present in trotyl and in hexogen.

The first in the Soviet Union, pilot production of synthetic diamonds on running detonation method was launched in early 1980 in the NGO "Altai" Biisk. However, the sense of it was not enough. Technological line of realizing controlled explosion, is not it possible to obtain pure diamonds and diamond-containing blend, in which, besides the diamonds were present explosion and fire-resistant impurities — metal oxides, falling from the walls to the batch process equipment. We had to find a way to allocate all of this garbage nanoscale diamond crystals. This task management NGO "Altai" applied to the Leningrad Special Design and Technological Bureau (SDB) "technology."

Extract diamonds from TNT

SKTB "Technologist" was created in 1963 on the initiative of Lev Bagala, head of the department of chemistry and technology of organic nitrogen compounds of the Leningrad Institute of Technology (famous all over the country Tehnolozhki) as the test base to test and implement the best ideas of university staff.

Since its formation SKTB "Technologist" did not fit into the organizational structure of the then scientific research. Formally, referring to high school science, it acted as a major branch of NGOs — to develop and technology drove immediately to the industrial stage, and without going through the intermediate links, pass them as a finished product at the production plant.

The level of technology has been created here is very high, as the SDB had priority rights take back the most talented graduates Tehnolozhki. "And the academic and industrial institutes terribly jealous of our SDB, because every year we have the" right of first night "- we used to select the best professionals themselves, and they got it what’s left" — recalls Valery Dolmatov, Head of the Center of intensive technologies SKTB "Technologist". Assembled on a "technology" the most modern equipment annually undergo practical training hundreds of students, who then went to work in manufacturing plants and becomes a conductor of new technologies in the industry. "Such an ideology has placed in their offspring professor bug, and it worked particularly well in the area of new breakthrough technologies — highlights Valery Marchukov, deputy Head of the Center of intensive technologies SKTB "technology." — Graduates Tehnolozhki passed through the SDB, were the most popular frames in the Soviet Union, because they are well versed in what the factory engineers often do not even have any idea. "

Excellent equipment and a high level of skills of engineers and technologists SKTB allowed to engage in serious work of materials science in the interests of the MIC. Just one example: it is the "Technologist" developed, and is now supplying military catalysts for curing composite materials used in the domestic stealth technology.

Skate SKTB originally a chemical synthesis of substances and materials in harsh environments. "Since 1976, we have owned these methods impact on the environment and the physical body of high pressures, high temperatures and aggressive oxidants that are not available to other organizations — says Valery Marchuk. — A with increasing pressure and temperature the rate of chemical reactions generally increase, and this makes it possible that it is impossible under normal conditions ". One of these techniques, created at the time Eugene Vishnevsky and Vadim Sushchev for the purification of substances used in the defense was based on the use of nitric acid at high pressure. It is this method, modified in 1984 under the charge of diamond, allowed to separate detonation diamonds from all impurities. The purity of the material was very high. But it soon became clear that the global industry is already actively used the detonation diamonds, has no comparable efficiency technology for cleaning.

By the end of 1980, when orders from the defense industry virtually ceased, employees SKTB units, which from the beginning has been developing this unique method, and then designed a continuous production line for its implementation, have decided to make the production of detonation diamonds one of its core competencies. Now the unit is called the Center of intense Technology (CIT).

Diamonds are generalists

The detonation diamonds — a non-trivial stuff. Its main feature — the special structure of the crystal surface. It is covered with a variety of oxygen-containing functional groups that impart the variety of synthetic diamond hydrophilicity — affinity with water and with any solutions, and water-based environments (traditional hydrophobic synthetic diamonds). This feature provides the variety of synthetic diamonds wide range of applications.

In contrast to classical synthetic diamonds produced by static synthesis and suitable only for abrasive chips for preliminary (rough) treatment of hard and superhard materials, detonation diamonds already found use in dozens of different areas — from hardening of the polymers to cancer therapy. In the near future, experts say, will be open for at least as much.

Industrial development of detonation nanodiamonds conducted in four directions. The largest in terms of consumption of a niche market — the polishing composition for finishing and superfinishing surfaces. The second area where the market has already tasted this nanomaterial — metalloalmaznye galvanic coating. If you enter in the traditional covering nanodiamonds, its durability will increase four to five times, and it will grow markedly anti-corrosion properties. The third niche — additives for lubricating oils and greases. When adding nanocrystals their friction properties are improved considerably. Finally, the fourth increasingly popular trend — Diamond additives to the rubber. "The market already has technology to add rubber nanodiamonds. In the end, turn out expensive car tires with a long term divergence and excellent adhesion to the roadbed, "- said Valery Dolmatov. Mastered this technology, in particular, the company Michelin.

A few more promising areas of work with nanodiamonds is still in the experimental stage development. The greatest theme elaborated diamond and metalloalmaznyh cakes — composite materials from which it is supposed to produce a particularly important parts of machinery. Very promising results of experiments with detonation nanodiamonds in medicine and biotech. "Since our diamond has affinity to water, which allows its use including living systems — for example, to deal with different types of molds for protecting monuments from destruction in the urban environment aggressive for deeper penetration of the active ingredients of cosmetics, as antioxidants as drug transport components that may be "plant" to the surface, and even to destroy cancer cells, "- Valery Dolmatov lists.

A special case is the most marginal and, perhaps, the most prestigious area of potential applications of nanodiamonds — solid-state electronics. "We are including the creation of diamond semiconductors. For this purpose, the diamond crystal lattice to replace carbon atom of boron, phosphorus, germanium, or sulfur, — said Valery Dolmatov. — Similar diamond semiconductors are to replace silicon in electronics. Our advantage that detonation diamonds synthesis gives the most stable crystalline structure. "

One of the key problems in this a
rea — how to ensure the highest degree of purity of the diamond semiconductor after all the manipulation of its crystal lattice (impurities should not exceed 0.1%). And there may well be "shoot" Nitrate unique purification technology, which is owned by CIT.

With diamonds, but without a producer

The purification step — a key stage processing chain of detonation diamonds. In the final cost of the material, it is three-quarters.

Throughout the world, resulting in an explosion of diamond batch cleaned by boiling in concentrated sulfuric acid with the addition of chromium compounds. This technology, first of all, very dirty. Second, it does not provide the proper degree of purification: the non-diamond forms of carbon go, and much of the non-combustible impurities of metal oxides, it is extremely harmful to the further use of diamonds remain. Third, during the cleaning of being further contamination of the final product — in diamonds is a lot of hexavalent chromium is a strong poison.

Cleaning method, developed in the "technology" is devoid of all of the above disadvantages. It produces high-purity nano-diamonds — the number of non-combustible impurities is not more than 0.3-0.6% (with sulfuric acid method — between 2% and above). Raw materials for this technology (diamond-batch), you can either earn themselves or buy-side (the method of its manufacture is simple enough), and it appears from St. Petersburg have the leading innovators in the world-wide production technology is very promising and popular nanomaterial.

  • Valery Marchuk, deputy head of the Center of intensive technologies SKTB "Technologist": "We hold these methods impact on the environment and the physical body of high pressures, high temperatures and aggressive oxidants that are not available to other organizations"
  • Valery Marchuk, deputy head of the Center of intensive technologies SKTB "Technologist": "We hold these methods impact on the environment and the physical body of high pressures, high temperatures and aggressive oxidants that are not available to other organizations"


In addition to the technology experts at CIT have serious scientific competence for its development: Valery Dolmatov among the top five global research detonation nanodiamonds. "Our technology — the pride of Russia, — says Dolmatov. — Despite the collapse of applied science and all of today’s complexities in this area of carbon materials at our command wide priority in the world. "

Experimental-industrial base meets the scientific level. It was created in 2008-2009 as part of a federal program. Then the "technologist" has received a grant from Minobra 120 million rubles, and put their own earned 40 million rubles. "We designed and ordered a brand new equipment for cleaning diamonds — special corrosion-resistant reactors, autoclaves capable of withstanding pressures up to 150 atmospheres and temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius. We have also developed a modern fully computerized control systems and have written the software for the "- describes the achievements of his team Valery Marchuk.

As a result, hardware system was created by a nitric acid cleaning diamond-charge capacity of 1.5 tons a year. "Another instrumental and experimental research base of this level with the ability to operate at high pressures, temperatures and aggressive media in Russia today is not" — says Valery Dolmatov. And when you consider that the world market for detonation nanodiamonds in kind estimated at about 10 tons, the power available to the CIT should be considered a full-fledged production.

Leading technology, world-class science and modern production — at first glance, our hero has everything to become a significant player in the market one of the hottest trends of the world NTP — the creation of new materials with breakthrough features.

Unfortunately, the serious business of the St. Petersburg group over the years and has not built up — CIT not started the production of end products based on nanodiamonds and he did not take any "diamond" market niche.

Alas, we have long since ceased to be surprised similar stories. After all, this team — one of the many preserved in the Russian strong scientific and engineering schools, which to implement them fully competitive developments, lack of entrepreneurial component. Scientists, engineers and technologists Center intensive technologies do not want to waste time, money and effort on building sales channels and customer base operating time. They have this soul does not lie. In general CIT no one was seriously engaged in promotion of their products and services: there is no marketing department, no full-fledged system of sales.

Sale of Technology

CIT is now operating in the market in two ways: modification sells its diamond-charge cleaning technology to third party companies and delivers purified themselves nanodiamonds (as raw material) to those who make on the basis of their final products.

One of the first buyers of nitrate CIT technology has become "Elektrokhimpribor" — Ural enterprise operating in the state defense order. At the warehouse got a huge amount of explosive materials task of defective at the time military acceptance. The chief engineer "ELEKTROKHIMPRIBOR" Eugene Nikitin asked the ITC to come up with a request to "anything" to keep the case in these stocks. CIT experts suggested the use of explosives for detonation nanodiamonds method. They developed and sold Urals package technologies to receive the output of diamond-oil composition. As a result, the plant successfully started manufacturing of innovative engine and gear oils with additives diamond. However, this side of "ELEKTROKHIMPRIBOR" business has not gone beyond the regional.

Other modifications of its purification technology detonation diamonds CIT at various times sold to Belarus, South Korea and China. "The Chinese are very seriously preparing to purchase — over one and a half years, they have studied and compared different treatment technologies used in Russia and in the world, and ultimately chose our — as the most perfect" — Valery Dolmatov believes that the deal with China — a sort of recognition of the championship CIT world market.

But doing business on the recognition still can not: the relationship with the buyers of technology end single act of sale — they take the technical documentation and gone forever from Petrograd. Orders for the author’s support of technology, service equipment or research and development to improve the technology in CIT from such customer does not arrive.

License fees are also not a source of income CIT, as in any case, the transfer was not accompanied by a unique method of selling licenses. Customers are paying for the technical documentation as per item component that does not impose any restrictions on them in terms of further use of technology.

Selling out to the right and left its unique technology, the St. Petersburg did not fear that spawn competitors. First, they sell the older version, while they themselves are working with a new, more efficient, which also continue to improve. Second, they rely on patents. "We already have about 30 patents in Russia and the United States. And they do not only protect purification technology, but also the products themselves — and the actual batch of diamond diamonds, and these patents are very difficult to get around — emphasizes Valery Dolmatov. — In the near future we intend to defend our priority in Germany, Japan and South Korea. "

However, in the era of ubiquitous copy and grueling patent w
ars seriously rely on patent protection is not necessary. Especially when it comes to China. Buyer CIT technology from the Chinese side, fortunately, was not a manufacturing company, and the Beijing Institute of Technology, which is not any significant player in the global market of detonation nanodiamonds. But in China are known, new technologies are scaled copied and distributed at epidemics. In addition, China has become perhaps the world’s largest producer of detonation nanodiamonds, so that the possibility of leakage of Russian technology is very high. "According to our calculations, the detonation diamonds in China produce no fewer than eight companies — said Valery Dolmatov. — The main consumers of diamonds — the U.S., Japan and South Korea — buy this product just at them. "

St. Petersburg has more or Finnish?

The second line market CIT — supplier of raw materials (treated diamonds) to producers of finished products. For example, a suburban town of RAM of the Jubilee and the South Korean firm Sun Hung Petrograders sell their diamonds for diamond chrome-plated, which at one time was developed by experts in conjunction with the Department of CIT electrochemical production Tehnolozhki. PAM covers their crowns — the most wear out quickly element rigs — and the valves of oil submersible pumps that without such protection instantly eats corrosion. And one Israeli cosmetics manufacturer adds diamonds purchased from CIT in their funds.

However, all of these supplies or one-time or too small to talk about any serious business. In addition, as suppliers of raw materials Petrograders cut off from the end consumer: in most cases they do not know any details about exactly where their diamonds are used, how they are inserted into these or other materials (eg, metal or rubber coating), and, most importantly which they impart new properties to the final product.

The only buyer of nanodiamonds, which have formed a long-term partnership CIT — Finnish high-tech company Carbodeon, specializing in the generation and sale of carbon nitride, high-tech material with high added value.

For CIT Carbodeon — ideal conductor for high-tech market. The Finns have a private R & D-unit permitted for the dissemination of nanodiamonds from St. Petersburg to the right customers with the state, and an extensive network of customers around the world.

The volume of a segment of detonation nanodiamonds is now estimated at 100-150 million euros per year, he grows up to 5-10%. The Finnish company, seems to have made a bid for St. Petersburg diamonds — intermediate with a clear competitive advantage (as high as that of the CIT, the cleanliness of the material still can not get no). With them, the Finns may well be the leaders in this segment of the world market of high-tech materials.

In order to disassociate themselves from the already huge number of nanodiamonds of dubious origin and purity, released on the market by Chinese companies, Carbodeon their positions, that is, from St. Petersburg, diamonds in the premium segment. "More and more customers require that diamonds had chromium impurities — said Valery Dolmatov. — And then there are the Finns with our diamonds and guarantee the customer the absence of chromium, and other contaminants as well. "

Finns are the only ones among clients CIT, have licensed the technology to clean detonation diamonds, and are going to buy a second — to the method of obtaining the charge of the diamond. In this case, the six years they regularly bought the Center of intensive technologies of 200-250 kg of nanodiamonds in the year (about 80% of the diamonds that are accumulating the St. Petersburg team for all of their customers). "Finns appreciate that we can modify the surface of our nanoproduct and supply them with a wide variety of product shapes of diamonds — water slurry, dry powders, and so on, are designed for different applications," — Valery Dolmatov explains what the strengths of the CIT as a supplier materials. The price of one gram of nanomaterial depending on modification of 2 to 20 euros. Thus, the supply of Finns annually bring in CIT budget of about 500 million euros.

However Carbodeon have plans to build its own production of the complete cycle, which will synthesize the detonation nanodiamonds and clean them using a nitric licensed technology. The search for the investor and the site for the company.

No doubt about it: if the Finns will take to develop the tech-still on Russian nanodiamonds, they must succeed. Finland has become one of the most competitive economies in the world is through the creation from scratch of strong high-tech businesses. This writer had a chance to make sure that high-tech companies in Finland are grown systematically and purposefully, and support them with such care that the envious to tears (see "Country of winning high-tech", "Expert» № 20, 2004). St. Petersburg’s technology that’s probably accustomed to the Finnish oasis and increase the share of Finland’s high-tech industry in the global market. 


Diamonds from the explosion

The first method of producing artificial diamonds, later called static synthesis was developed and patented by General Electric in the first half of 1950. For synthesis of this method to create required high pressure and temperature under which influence the crystal lattice of graphite is transformed into a crystal lattice of another modification of the carbon — diamond.

"After the opening of static synthesis, many researchers have tried to use to create high pressures and temperatures, the energy of the explosion. Luck smiled on American scientists — they are the first diamonds found in a sample of the shock-compressed graphite — says Konstantin Korolev, Head of research complex SKTB "technology." — On a new method — the dynamic synthesis of diamonds — was announced in 1961. "

Soviet scientists were quickly caught up with colleagues from the U.S. to the USSR explosive technique mastered the production of artificial diamonds in 1962, and then significantly improved it. Among the Soviet pioneers of dynamic synthesis — a group Vyacheslav Danilenko, worked in the closed city of Snezhinsk. Danilenko got their diamonds from explosives largely by accident. In 1963, after the explosion load without introducing a charge of graphite in the explosive fumes were discovered diamond crystals of small size. The carbon source for the formation of the molecule can only be used explosives.

The development of industrial technology for this type of synthetic diamonds in the country was conducted in late 1970 — early 1980’s in parallel in Novosibirsk, Kiev and Biysk. The first pilot plant was organized in 1984 at the NGO "Altai" (Bijsk). Prior to the 2000s, this type of artificial diamonds, having the characteristic size of 4-7 nanometers, called ultra-dispersed diamonds of detonation synthesis. In the wake of the rapid growth in popularity of nanotechnology renamed detonation nanodiamonds.   

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