One of eco-trends of recent times is switching to alternative fuels. What do they do in aviation for this, and what is Samara scientists’ contribution?
“Applying electric engines in commercial aviation is a far away prospect. To date, the most efficient way to reduce the carbon footprint of aircrafts is using various alternative fuels. For the purpose of controlling carbon emissions by aviation, the international CORSIA program has been created. At present, compliance with its requirements is voluntary, but since 2027, it will already be mandatory. Carriers will have to pay something like a carbon tax if they do not at least partially use fuel from renewable sources. In future, they may be secondary, for example, plastics; renewable — biofuels: vegetable oils, agricultural waste; or non-traditional for this industry — coal.
For offsetting the tax, one of the option for airlines is to raise ticket prices. But now, ecology is still thought about, which is confirmed by numerous new legislative initiatives.
Carbon emissions by aviation are about 2–3% of the total. Biofuels can reduce them by 80%. In our country, the work is underway, though there is a lot to do for reducing the backlog in this area from our foreign colleagues. A systematic approach has not developed yet due to the large number of players that need to negotiate: aerospace-engineering, engine industry, agriculture, carriers, universities, industry institutes.
We see our part of the task in assessing how adding bio-components to kerosene will affect the engine operation. We study mixtures in different proportions, because switching to biofuels is gradual. Next year we have planned tests on small engines. We collaborate in this area together with colleagues from Tomsk University of Technology and the Central Institute of Aviation Engine Building. This will result in the program that air carriers and engine engineers will be able to use for assessing performance specifications of biofuels. By the way, the similar software for traditional hydrocarbon fuel is also ours”.
“There is no black PR in science”
You have been in science for almost 15 years. According to your observations, is there competition in this area?
“When new teams and new theme appear, it is high. For example, drones are very popular now, their serial production increasingly grows. On the one hand, this is a very applied theme, on the other hand, there are many things for scientists to do in it. IT area and everything related to artificial intelligence are also in demand. I noticed competition there, because specialists in these areas are closed: they do not disclose ideas, not to mention specific technical solutions.
There is less competition in research teams that have already formed, which is determined by specialization in numerous themes, and there are really a huge number of them. There are not enough scientists to explore them”.
How does competition manifest itself, is some kind of black PR used?
“In scientific community, there is no such thing that someone tries to ruin somebody’s reputation because of envy. At least, I have not encountered this. The competition takes place in a different field: for resources and for personnel. There are two sources of resources for scientists: large companies that need research for production, and budget financing of various levels. That’s what attention is focused on, and not on interpersonal conflicts”.
“Snobbery only limits”
Have you ever met famous scientists? How do they behave?
“Yes, I have met them many times. For example, I was very impressed by Aleksander Ivanovich Leontiev, a scientist in the field of heat and mass exchange. It was my first meeting with an eminent scientist, and I was very struck. Then I stopped being surprised, because I realized that this kind of behavior is normal for such people. They are as generous as possible in every sense of the word. They are ready to share what they know. They understand how it is important to share their knowledge, so that the younger generation could use it. They are very active and curious. If you ask them a question, you need to be ready for complex thoughts as an answer. They are like entrepreneurs who have the talent to organize connections, to communicate.
Today, a scientist’s fame is measured by the citation index. We implement fuel projects together with Professor Sergey Sazhin. His citation index is 46. This means that he has 46 articles, each of which has been cited more than 46 times — that’s a lot”.
How do you feel about manifestation of snobbery? There is a stereotype that scientists boast of their intellectual superiority.
“Snobbery is a barrier to further development. One must overcome temptation to manifest it, in order to grow further. Awareness of my being better than others limits. As I mentioned earlier, there are no snobs among the famous scientists who I have met”.
“Students don’t change, alumni do”
You have been teaching for more than ten years. Do students change somehow?
“It seems to me that those who come to the University from year to year do not change. In groups, their distribution is approximately the same every time. There are 2–3 people focused on studies, asking questions. There are a few who “fall out”: they do not listen to, or even do not attend the lessons at all. Everyone else is middling.
Some students change after graduation. This does not apply to those who showed intelligence during their studies: they behave the same way in their professional activities, as well. Metamorphoses happen to those “middlings”. I have watched more than once how, having got into the professional environment, they turned into good specialists, with whom it is pleasant to work”.
What do you do to keep students’ attention?
“I ask questions. And I explain the material using examples understandable to them.
If something is disconnected from life, it cannot be connected to the database in their heads. It is the database that should be replenished in course of training, without piling new information”.
“School subjects are needed to form the mindset”
You have a family, and you can deal with school education through your children. What kind of learning strategy do you advise schoolchildren — to focus on individual subjects or try to keep up with all ones?
“I have two daughters. One of them is already of school age, goes to the third grade. I don’t see the point in her doing equally well in all subjects. This does not mean that they don’t have to be taught at all, but I don’t require her to be an excellent pupil. To my mind, there is a mandatory minimum to know. It is necessary to understand the essence of a particular subject, because they form the mindset. Neglecting school subjects, the child deprives themselves of the opportunity to look at the world differently, to see other people’s position.
In my opinion, basic school education is not sufficient in terms of realizing children’s potential. So, additional classes are needed. My elder daughter and I tried a lot of things, and selected music school and dancing. Sometimes it is difficult for her, and she is unhappy, but when she achieves some result, she feels joy”.
“Philosophy helps doing right things”
What do you do to maintain/improve your professional and personal performance? Can you recommend something?
“I constantly study. I like it; besides, this is a certain way of self-organization. I take 1-2 refresher courses a year, most often online. I choose their themes both related to my professional activity and not. For example, not so long ago I took a course in Philosophy of Science and Technology. Being a university student, I neglected this discipline, and now I want to recommend it to everyone. Philosophers already have answers to many questions that will help make decisions in everyday life, as well.
For example, when speculating about what to do, I remember Kant’s idea. He suggested extrapolating one’s behavior to other people, and asking the question, “Would I like my behavior to become a maxim for others, so that everyone in society would behave the same way?” And the answer comes quickly.
The rest of my recommendations are not unique, but this does not make them lose their versatility: getting enough sleep, exercising, communicating with nice people and with those who you would like to be similar to. Though the main thing is probable to devote time to your personal interest, at least half an hour or an hour a day. What you want to do, despite being tired. This brings sense even to the most routine life”.