Posted: 02.02.2023 12:53:00

Designed and made wisely

From high-speed gearboxes to unmanned vehicles: how the field of mechanical engineering is developing in the country

Today Belarusian scientists and industrialists work side by side in many sectors of the economy.  A unique science-intensive product is the result of their co-operation. Mechanical engineering is one  of the most relevant examples of such partnership. The Joint Institute of Mechanical Engineering of the  National Academy of Sciences of Belarus is a partner of the domestic auto industry. Its scientific developments  are always reflected in practice, implemented in machines and mechanisms.

Close co-operation

Almost all Belarusian-made equipment that drives along city streets and public roads is the brainchild of the institute, said Deputy Director General for Research and Innovations of the Joint Institute of Mechanical Engineering of the NAS Oleg Yelovoy, “The equipment of MAZ, BELAZ, MTZ, Gomselmash, part of the road construction equipment of AMKODOR — all this was mainly analysed, designed and tested by our institute.”
Calculations, engineering, design of machines make the first direction of the work of the scientific structure. The second is technological support for mechanical engineering. That is, technologies, materials and tools. From lubricants to coatings. 
“We are well-known in dozens of countries, our technologies are applied in Russia, China, European countries,” Oleg Yelovoy stressed.
In addition to the main areas of work, scientists also apply their knowledge and power in areas that are not quite familiar, for example, in the field of medicine. 
“These are calculations, design and analysis. We had orders for shoulder and hip implants, now we are starting to work in such a direction as jaws and teeth,” Deputy Director General for Research and Innovations emphasised. 
He also recalled that the institute is the head organisation for providing the industry that is relevant today — electric transport. This equipment is created within the framework of the ‘Engineering and Engineering Technologies’ programme. 

The results are impressive

Summing up the results of the work over the past year, the scientist called the development of a methodology for designing high-speed gearboxes one of its important results, however, this was done for the first time, “They will be used in electric vehicles — both cars and trucks.”
Oleg Yelovoy also pointed out an electric truck that received a vehicle design safety certificate and is approved for driving on public roads,
“At present, MAZ, together with the Joint Institute of Mechanical Engineering of the NAS, is working on the creation of ten electric trucks for testing in various logistics centres of the country on behalf of the government.”
The scientist recalled another significant event, but this time in the field of engineering technologies — the creation and implementation of environmentally friendly biodegradable lubricants for forestry processing equipment in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. He also mentioned the development of cladding technology, which is so significant today, “It is used for various purposes — to reduce friction, to increase strength, to extend the life of equipment. The technology was put into production last autumn at the Minsk Automatic Lines Plant named after 
P. M. Masherov and the Ural Pipe Works.”

In general, the joint work of Belarusian scientists with Russian manufacturers continues. Including AvtoVAZ, ShvabeSpezAvto. Oleg Yelovoy expressed hope that some models of their equipment will operate with a domestic electric drive and its electric versions will be produced jointly. 
Summing up the issue of electric transport, Deputy Director General for Highly Automated Electric Transport of the Joint Institute of Mechanical Engineering of the NAS Alexander Belevich noted that in 2022 three new types of electric vehicles were created — this is a MAZ cargo electric vehicle, an electric car with a frame — panel design with a carrying capacity of up to a tonne and a sports electric car, “It is very important that all of them use the domestic component base — electric motors, power electronics, battery management electronics. Everything is designed with our technology in mind, which allows us to go further to serial production. In particular, for MAZ trucks, this work has already begun, it is planned to transfer to some small series in the near future for other vehicles.”

The Belarusian electric car has something that fundamentally distinguishes it from imported analogues, Alexander Belevich emphasised, this is the choice of an asynchronous motor, “It is important that we have sufficiently high skill sets in the field of designing electrical machines, which allowed us to design an asynchronous motor, close in characteristics to a synchronous one with permanent magnets. In addition, our choice has another explanation: minimising dependence on an imported component base, which we cannot produce at home. Asynchronous motors are made from materials available in our country and in Russia.”

Stay relevant

The institute also has long term plans. Alexander Belevich recalled: Belarusian scientists have the necessary skill sets to create accumulators from all types of cells. The institute has the necessary equipment for their testing. Moreover, if the cells themselves are not produced in the country, then all electronics and algorithms are of our production. All this helps to solve the problem with spent batteries in the future. 
“One need to understand that any battery needs to be replaced after 5–10 years, since it holds only up to 70 percent of the charge. And it will need to either be disposed of or look for a second life for it. And we can use the battery as a stationary source of electricity. This will extend its life by another decade,” Deputy Director General for Highly Automated Electric Transport explained. 

There are also considerations among scientists on the subject of a breakthrough direction — the use of hydrogen, although they are convinced that this is a rather distant prospect. The technology of proton-exchange membranes, which is used in such cars, is in Russia. 
“We do not yet have this technology, but now it is ineffective. Worldwide progress in this regard is very slow. On the other hand, we understand that an electric car is a kind of transitional stage. The world community is betting on hydrogen, but at the moment there are many unknowns in this matter. However, we are following this trend,” Alexander Belevich noted. 
In addition, according to Deputy Director General for Highly Automated Electric Transport, unmanned vehicles are the nearest prospect, because this work has already been started by the institute, although it is still at an early stage.

By Vera Arteaga
Photos by BELTA