Extreme climate makes Yakut people live depending on long and very cold winters that are the region’s hallmark. How will this work in -50ºC?
This issue concerns not only locals, but also manufacturers of equipment to be used in the Far North.
Therefore, over the years, Yakutia conducted field tests of Komatsu, Toyota, Bombardier, Boeing, Airbus, and Sukhoi Superjet 100 at natural low temperatures.
North-Eastern Federal University’s Faculty of Road Construction started testing tires for a Japanese corporation Bridgestone in 2012. Over time, the company's needs have increased, and in 2017, NEFU embarked on an ambitious project to build a Testing Ground at the ‘Kangalassy Industrial Park’ in Yakutsk. The Director Ivan Noev talks about how and why it was created and what services it provides.
From project to reality
It all started in 2012 with the signing of Memorandum of Cooperation between Bridgestone and NEFU. The same year, the first tests of passenger car tires started at the university’s autodrome.
“Since then, we’ve been receiving orders from them every year, and they constantly have new requirements for the testing ground, the duration of tests and the equipment. For example, automatic and manual transmission Volkswagen Golfs were purchased as part of the contract. They are also used at the faculty’s driver training school when they aren’t used for tests.”
About three years later, it was clear that time to expand and look for a new site has come. At that time, the only option was a plot of land near Vladimirovka village in the suburbs of Yakutsk, about 100 hectares of swamp. This factor prevented us from making a final decision to relocate objects.
“In 2017, we noticed ‘Kangalassy Industrial Park’ which had suitable areas and conditions for the testing ground. In the summer of the same year, we signed an agreement with JSC Far East Development Corporation on conducting activities at ADZ. After receiving 0.5 hectares, we immediately started design and exploration work, and a year later we started building a service center. The construction of the building was going at a rapid pace, as we wanted to have time to fulfill all the conditions of the new contract with Bridgestone.”
In 2019, the testing ground received an additional 72 hectares for the construction of four test tracks and a maintenance center building. Four tracks are currently in operation: a snowy straight acceleration track (400x30m), a snowy curved track (1700x5m), an icy straight track (100x30m), and an icy curved track (850x5m). The first tests of new Bridgestone tires were held here in February 2019. In the conversation, Ivan Noev stressed that the activities of all sites are coordinated with environmental agencies.
A new maintenance center building which is currently hosting a unique research project called Dome house deserves special attention. It was initiated by the Sinet group of companies. A dome made of metal profiles and vinyl was built over the new wooden building of a maintenance center. It will protect the building and its inhabitants from the extreme climate.
“The main goal of the project is to determine the “viability” of such a structure in permafrost. In addition, its climate characteristics, safety, durability, heat and energy efficiency will be evaluated. Various NEFU scientists are involved in the work.”
Until May 2020, a young family of volunteers will live in the house. They will lead a normal lifestyle. In this part of the experiment, it is necessary to find out how the microclimate will affect the inhabitants. To that end, regular psychophysical tests are planned. “How will the building and the permafrost under it behave? How effective is the dome design? What will happen to its inhabitants? Answers to these questions will be valuable scientific knowledge for everyone,” notes the Testing Ground Director.
The colder the better
According to Ivan Noev, European and Russian manufacturers traditionally prefer to conduct cold tests in Finland. This is largely due to a working transport scheme.
“In terms of logistics, our testing ground is beneficial for East Asia and the Pacific Rim countries companies. Chinese companies are showing great interest in the testing ground’s activities. In August 2019, a working meeting was held with representatives of the Heilongjiang company. Last month, we visited them for negotiations at their invitation. Domestic car manufacturers, such as JSC Bryansk automobile plant (JSC Concern Almaz-Antey) and JSC AVTOVAZ have signed memorandums of cooperation and intend to test their vehicles at our testing ground. Lada cars will arrive in Yakutsk in the near future for endurance testing. They will test their low-temperature resistance.”
“Referring to cooperation with the Bridgestone Corporation, we have already carried out 12 tests, including 2 extremely low-temperature ones, up to -45ºC. New tests will begin in January 2020. This time, the company representatives are interested in -50ºC temperatures. They say that this time the colder the better,” sums up Ivan Noev.
By Pavel Ivanov