3 april 2009

Vladimir Putin met with Anatoly Chubais, Russian Nanotechnology Corporation CEO

They discussed nanotechnological priority projects.

Transcript of the start of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Anatoly Chubais: I want to summarise what we have done, what we are doing and planning to do, and discuss our problems.

Vladimir Putin: Is your funding at the previous level?

Anatoly Chubais: Yes, the corporation has no problems with it due to our coordinated stances. We have fixed figures for what we have planned this year-what we can do without exertion, and the sums we can use up. Everything is clear, and there are no problems.

I have a gist for you, and we can look at it now.

I would like to start with our Strategy document. It is comprehensive and serious enough. Its key premises concern our long-term goal for 2015.

The document includes a figure reflecting our objectives very explicitly. It is the annual output of the emergent Russian nano industry. It is easy to verify, and statisticians will easily monitor it in the future.

The document forecasts the output of the Russian nanotechnological sector by 2015 at 900 billion roubles. I compared it to what we have for today. There are no statistics for nanotechnologies yet, and available expert estimations are very modest-5 to 8 billion. On the whole, the present Russian output of innovation commodities approaches these estimations. Experts say this production will amount to 935 billion roubles this year. The amount must double with nanotechnologies. That is our main goal. Our principal achievement for today is the pattern of selecting projects to launch out of the 917 applications we have received. The corporation has a reliable system of technological, production and commercial assessment, after which we offer oven-ready projects to the Observation Council.

We have approved only ten projects for today. They have been carefully selected. We are starting a project formation pattern elaborated before I joined the corporation.

Vladimir Putin: Mere ten out of 917 applications?

Anatoly Chubais: Yes. This is not a final figure. We might add more projects out of the 907 dropouts-but 90% or even more won't do. We don't want to loosen our standards because finished projects will undergo the market test.

Vladimir Putin: Certainly.

Anatoly Chubais: It's all a lengthy job. Project drawing inside the corporation takes six to twelve months before the Observation Council has the final say of yes or no. Then, the investment stage starts. It usually boils down to construction or modernisation of large plants or production areas, taking from six months to two years and a half. Manufacture starts only after that. So our work has three major stages-blueprinting, construction and nanotechnological manufacture.

Vladimir Putin: What projects do you find the most ambitious and relevant, and which might be launched in the near future?

Anatoly Chubais: The prospects make one dizzy! It is too early to make comprehensive forecasts but, at any rate, there are tangible prospects for large-scale production extremely promising in Russia and for export.

First, there is solar energy industry starting with the manufacture of polysilicon and silicomethane, needed as raw materials. A plant manufacturing them has started work in Usolye Sibirskoye in the Irkutsk Region. These materials will go to manufacture solar batteries according to several technologies, of which there are three or more, from flexible film to space equipment. We think Russia should have smooth production and commerce, which are emerging.

That is one of the latest uses of silicon with excellent domestic and export prospects, I am sure. This sector is growing by tens of percent is energy industries of the world. The same materials are necessary in another nanotechnological industry-luminodiode manufacture. It offers lighting consuming 5-7 times less energy on all estimations.

The whole world realises that all lighting systems from house and street lamps to car lights and special systems-for instance, in surgeries-will shift to light emitting diodes within 5-10 years.

One of our initial projects envisages light emitting diode manufacture at the Ural Optical Mechanics Plant in Yekaterinburg. This part of the nanotechnological complex will certainly meet great demands and so deserves to be launched as soon as possible.

Nanocomposites will also be in great demand. We have a simple choice-either we launch production and smooth supplies of such materials of many shapes and varieties to industries within 3-5 years or we lose those industries. It is especially clear with aircraft building, in which the whole world is shifting to nanocomposites. They are 3-5 times lighter and more lasting than conventional materials used presently. To miss the chance would be a strategic blunder.

We are going to manufacture prepregs (semi-products for polymere composites) for wings, fuselage and some other aircraft parts on a project backed by the United Aircraft-Building Corporation, led by Mikhail Pogosyan.

Nanocomposites are also welcome to space exploration, shipbuilding and the automotive industry, where seriation is 1/10 or 1/100. It is evident, and I don't think any serious expert would offer objections.

All this does not exhaust the list. Nanotechnologies have a vast field of medical application. What we have done for today are only first steps, timid however interesting they might be. A specialist team has started building a complex that is, essentially, a classic cyclotron. They have our support and base on technologies developed by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna. The installation accelerates charged particles which perforate a membrane to make it a filter. The holes are of nano sizes, 20-100 nanometres, so this is a top quality filter. The team uses the technology for plasma depletors. The technique and the size of the holes make it the world's best blood purification machine. Neither Europe nor the United States nor Japan has such technology. Theirs are far less effective.

This depletory alone has huge market potential and brilliant prospects for use in Russia and abroad.

Vladimir Putin: These technologies have brilliant prospects, I agree-but I wanted merely to hear what had been done practically, and what your short-term prospects were. Now, I see you are really making progress.

Anatoly Chubais: The projects I have mentioned are approved, at least in part, and are past the discussion stage.

Vladimir Putin: They are being implemented.

Anatoly Chubais: We have launched factory construction in Dubna. I saw a ready production area in Yekaterinburg when I visited it recently. It is a huge area equal to several workshops. Now, there is equipment to bring and production to launch.