ASL company


In the 1970s and 80s the only way to find out about Russian PM developments was to scan the published literature, in particular Poroshkovaya Metallurgia (Powder Metallurgy). It was there that we first saw the remarkable ideas of Sheikhali Sheikhaliev. They were absolutely unique and original, and seemed at the time to just academic curiosities. Some involved forcing liquid metal under pressure through complex nozzles and they seemed far removed from industrially practical possibilities. However, a meeting was arranged with the author, who was said to work in Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute No2 with an address in Sverdlovsk P21. It later turned out that this was 2 time zones from Moscow and was in secret, closed city in western Siberia where the major employer was the uranium enrichment plant that was built for Stalin`s atom bomb program.   This also meant that it housed a huge concentration of the most superb Soviet engineers, amongst them Dr. Sheikhaliev. When ASL`s John Dunkley visited in 1991 he did not even know if he could get in. In Moscow he was told a special visa was needed, but on arrival in Sverdlovsk (now renamed Ekaterinburg) he was issued with the necessary documents and was probably among the first westerners to visit the city called Vierkh-Neyvinsk, but since renamed Novouralsk.

It was surrounded by a 4m high fence and situated on the shore of a beautiful lake in the rolling and wooded Ural Mountains.
Dr. Sheikhaliev showed Mr. Dunkley his small laboratory inside the institute and an agreement was made to work together. Since the establishment of ASL in 1992 this cooperation has continued with great success. A combination of Dr Sheikhaliev`s original ideas and deep scientific knowledge with the ASL team`s engineering and access to western specialists and suppliers of equipment, instruments, etc, has allowed us to commercialize two original processes and we are now working on a third and fourth.
The first pressure jet atomization of coarse powder. ASL supplied a plant to a British lead smelter to produce 2t/hour of 0.5-1.3mm lead shot in a fully automated plant. Unfortunately the market for such products is not growing, and other potential markets, such as magnesium for injection into steels or iron, have not been developed yet. The second was ultrasonic atomization of solder powders. An R&D program began in 1993 and has now lead to the sale of several systems worth over one million dollars.

Now we are working  on internal mixed gas atomization which promises to allow the production of extremely fine (e.g. 10micron) solder powder with minimal gas consumption.

As market reforms progress in Russia, Dr Sheikhaliev has expanded his laboratory outside the original institute premises and is now working on building up his research pilot scale production facilities. ASL  continues to work closely with him and we are about to celebrate 10 years of cooperation and look forward to many more.


№ 13, spring 2001

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