This month’s re-opening of NorNickel’s Talnakhskaya nickel facility in Norilsk, located above the Arctic Circle, highlights the extreme weather encountered in the Russian Arctic regions. As the region’s polar temperatures pose unique challenges for the construction – and maintenance – of concrete buildings, PENETRON crystalline technology provides a robust and widely-used concrete repair solution for Arctic-like climates.
“Basically, the challenge with the sub-zero temperatures and permafrost construction sites that we deal with above the Arctic Circle is to keep moisture – any type of moisture, water or chemicals – out of the concrete. This is of paramount importance because, inevitably, it will freeze and lead to severely damaged structures over time,” explains Igor Chernogolov, President of Penetron Russia.
The renovated Talnakhskaya nickel facility is located in Norilsk in western Siberia, the world's northernmost city above the Arctic Circle. This location has an extremely harsh subarctic climate and is covered with snow for about 250–270 days (and snow storms for about 110–130 days) per year, and “polar nights,” a period of continuous darkness from the end of November to mid-January. The soil remains frozen, with only short periods of thaw during the summer months. Permafrost and tundra cover most of the region.
The NorNickel Company is the world's leading producer of nickel and palladium and among the top ten copper producers globally. For the recent renovation and repair of the Norilsk factory buildings, the company employed the complete range of PENETRON products.
“Our local Penetron team provided technical support and know-how to ensure all repaired concrete structures will resist any further freeze-thaw damage and avoid the widespread scaling that was evident before the work began,” adds Mr. Chernogolov. “We were able to show how PENETRON crystalline technology was an ideal solution, even in such an extreme climate.”
UNDERGROUND RICHES, FROZEN GROUND
Penetron has been involved in numerous civil, industrial, military and railroad projects in the Arctic regions of Russia. Development of these regions enjoys wide government support for new investments and technologies. In a region known for its natural gas reserves and nonferrous deposits, most buildings located north of the Arctic Circle are built on concrete pilings to help minimize any building movement when the permafrost softens during the short summers.
PENETRON ADMIX is added to the concrete in the pilings/slabs to avoid cracking and surface scaling due to freeze-thaw cycles. To avoid melting and movement of the pilings during the short summers, freezer units are often used to keep the soil frozen.
“Some of the larger settlements, such as Yamburg (known for large natural gas reserves), have octopus-shaped buildings so people can walk between various buildings without going outside, where temperatures are sub-zero,” says Mr. Chernogolov.
As a key partner in the development of Russia’s Arctic region, Penetron’s most recent projects include:
Novodvinsk Paper Mill in Arkhangelsk is one of Europe’s largest wood pulp and container board manufacturers. PENETRON ADMIX was used for all below-grade concrete structures.
Natalka Gold Mine in the Magadan region in Eastern Siberia north of Japan is the 3rd largest in the world. PENETRON ADMIX was used to waterproof all concrete structures in the 950 m (3,135 foot) long mine tunnel and basement structures of the office buildings and production facilities.
Magadan Wastewater Treatment Plant in Eastern Siberia serves a city of 96,000 inhabitants. PENETRON crystalline repair material and PENECRETE MORTAR were applied to all interior and exterior surfaces of the plant’s concrete tanks and structures to repair the damaged concrete structures.
Boguchany Dam on the Angara River in Kodinsk, Siberia, is 2,587m long (with an asphaltene-concrete diaphragm wall) and is part of a 17.6 TWh power station. The repair and waterproofing work on the largest dam in Russia used PENETRON and PENECRETE MORTAR to better withstand high hydrostatic pressure.
“Because of the ubiquity of freeze-thaw cycles that result in cracked and failing concrete structures, PENETRON’s crystalline technology is a vital part of project specifications across the Arctic region,” adds Mr. Chernogolov. “Our products have made a significant contribution to the durability of concrete structures in the harsh climate.”