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Wednesday, 29 September 2021 11:43

Look into the future: The International Arctic Station "Snowflake"

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The International Arctic Station "Snowflake" is a year-round and fully autonomous complex created on the basis of renewable energy sources and hydrogen energy, without diesel fuel.

"Snowflake" will use the energy of hydrogen, wind and the sun.

Structure and principle of operation

Energy from renewable sources is wind energy. Solar panels are also used, but there is enough sun in Yamal, at best, from April to September, and the main energy is needed in winter, so three wind turbines of about 100-120 kW of installed capacity are provided. Wind turbines lose 50-70% of energy, however, it is assumed that the power is laid in excess and it will be enough not only to maintain the complex, but also to produce hydrogen through electrolysis. Hydrogen will be stored in compressed form in cylinders ("like a big battery"), and it will be possible to restore water and heat from it.

Three domes to the side, about a hundred meters from the main complex "Snowflakes– are "hydrogen" domes.

The purpose of launching this Arctic project is testing and demonstration by Russian and international partners of nature-saving life support technologies, as well as smart home/settlement systems, robotics, telecommunications, medicine, biotechnologies, new materials, solutions with artificial intelligence, as well as support for joint research on ecology, climate change, environmental pollution and the oceans.

The area of the complex is about 4500 sq.m. to accommodate at least 80 people - long-term residence and work of teams and their rotation.

Photo: MAS "Snowflake", top view

The modularity of the complex makes it possible to gradually develop the station. In addition, the station from above will resemble a snowflake: several domes connected by passages so that you can move around without going outside.

Main modules:

  • Laboratory modules and workshops – research and development, testing and technology demonstration.
  • Presentation module - conferences, teleconferences, forums.
  • Overview module - lectures, library and 360° observation deck.
  • Central module – kitchen-dining room, mini-cafe, medical office.
  • Residential modules with hotel rooms, mini gym and sauna.
  • Technological modules – autonomous life support systems, warehouses and auxiliary premises.
  • Hydrogen modules are systems of long-term energy storage.

Photo: Project of a residential room of IAS "Snowflake"

Photo: Project of a sports hall of IAS "Snowflake"

The station will be reliably protected from severe frosts and gusty winds. The main layer of thermal protection of buildings will be 300 mm thick.

"Snowflake" will be built a few hundred meters from the ethnic cemetery "Land of Hope". The station will power this small village, where several dozen Nenets families live.

Electric snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles will be available to reach the station from Salekhard Airport. Depending on the weather, the road will take 6-8 hours.

Organizational aspect and expectations from the launch of an innovative project

The project is being implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, state and private structures. The project is planned to involve organizations from the Arctic Council member countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the USA), as well as representatives of observer states.

MIPT, as the developer of the Snowflake project, expects that Snowflake will become one of the centers of international scientific cooperation. Technological solutions in the field of construction, artificial intelligence, telecommunications, medicine, agriculture, robotics, the Internet of things, smart home, 3D printing will be tested on the basis of the station. Research and scientific experiments will improve life support systems in the Arctic,

MIPT believes. In addition, in the future, "Snowflake" will solve the problem of dependence of remote settlements of the Arctic on expensive and scarce diesel fuel.

Recall: we are talking about the so-called "energy-isolated" territories, without centralized power supply, where diesel fuel has to be delivered annually. In such conditions, any promise of autonomous energy supply looks tempting.

The project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, which believes that it fully complies with the principles of sustainable development, the senior official from the Russian Federation in the Arctic Council, Nikolai Korchunov, calls such a station "as neutral as possible" in terms of environmental impact. A remarkable detail: it is assumed that the "Snowflake" will be tempting for foreign partners (scientists, engineers), they will be able to evaluate both the "neutrality for the environment" and the opportunities for research work offered by the remote Arctic station.

The name "Snowflake" was not chosen by chance, it was conceived as a symbol of cleanliness and environmental friendliness.
Considering the layout of the future station, having learned the proposed principle of operation, we can draw the main conclusion that this project seems to be quite promising, relevant and in demand at various levels (local, federal, international) and in various fields (energy, digital, scientific, tourism, etc.).

1. The official website of the IAS "Snowflake" project [Electronic resource] URL: https://arctic-mipt.com /# (accessed: 09/28/2021)
2. Zakvasin A. Snowflake Energy: what prospects does the launch of the Russian Arctic station on carbon-free raw materials open, 01/2020 [Electronic resource] URL: https://russian.rt.com/russia/article/709712-arktika-stanciya-snezhinka-energetika (accessed: 09/28/2021)
3. Shabaeva T. Why is there a Snowflake in the Arctic? 01/2020 [Electronic resource] URL: https://goarctic.ru/work/zachem-v-arktike-snezhinka / (accessed: 09/28/2021)

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