Military operations cause enormous damage to the Ukrainian environment. In particular, the restoration and modernization of water supply and sewerage in the war-affected areas requires advanced technologies for the treatment and disinfection of drinking and wastewater, wells, etc.
Resources. Challenges. In terms of water resources available for use, Ukraine belongs to the low-income countries. According to this indicator, it ranks 111th among 152 countries, and 17th among 20 European countries. According to the analytical center "Society and Environment," the most important environmental problem, according to Ukrainians, is the pollution of rivers, lakes, and groundwater. This was the opinion of 67.7% of respondents.
Therefore, the implementation of the Environmental Safety Recovery Plan adopted by the government is intended to ensure the implementation of environmental policy in line with Ukraine's European integration and the European Green Deal. Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute does not stand aside from this important state program.
Participation of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. The Department of Ecology and Technology of Plant Polymers of the Institute of Chemical Engineering knows how to improve water quality, where they have been conducting research on the treatment of polluted water using resource-efficient technologies for many years. A close-knit team of like-minded people has been created here, which is constantly replenished with talented students. Under the guidance of experienced mentors, young scientists obtain significant scientific results, defend their dissertations, stay at the department and later become supervisors of bachelor's and master's degree projects.
Young researchers. For example, PhD student Anna Gondovska is developing membranes for purifying contaminated water. "First, we use environmentally friendly methods to produce cellulose from renewable raw materials (agricultural waste and annual plant stems). And it is already a material for the production of membranes. Such membrane filters can be used to purify contaminated water in the occupied territories," she says.
The young scientist is working under the supervision of Associate Professor Iryna Trembus. "In September 2022, I entered the PhD program at the Department of Ecology and Technology of Plant Polymers," says Anna. "For me, one of the most valuable moments during my studies is the comprehensive support from the teacher I work with. My supervisor personifies all the traits of a person with whom you want to communicate and create something new. We can joke around, tell funny stories, and then discuss scientific articles and write an experiment plan."
Formation. It is worth noting that the young researcher's path to graduate school was not very straightforward, but full of hard work and inspiration. In 2015, she entered the Faculty of Engineering and Chemistry of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, majoring in Chemical Technology and Engineering. According to her, the first semesters seemed difficult, not at all like school days. "But thanks to the support of my teachers, I succeeded, and I was able to join the educational process," Anna concludes.
The student joined the scientific activity while still studying for her bachelor's degree. She remembers well her first experiments on the production of fibrous semi-finished products. "I was very interested in the practical side of studying, and I finally realized that I had chosen the right specialty, the direction in which I wanted to study and develop. I continued to work with different types of plant materials and methods of their delignification. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Romaniia Cherepkina, I started writing my first articles for professional journals and abstracts for international conferences," she recalls.
In her 4th year of study, the student did her undergraduate internship at the Kyiv Cardboard and Paper Mill. It was probably the first time she got to know a real company where IHF graduates are invited to work. But her passion for scientific research outweighed her interest in modern production, so she chose the educational and scientific program to continue her studies in the master's program.
The topic of the young researcher's master's thesis was the development of nanocellulose production from reeds.
From reeds? Unexpected. But how emotional the scientist is about the plant: "Today, reeds are grown for general use (fuel briquettes, biogas production, etc.). However, for the pulp and paper industry, it is a valuable fiber product with a chemical composition similar to wood. So using reeds as a raw material is considered a great alternative for Ukraine, which has limited wood resources!" The work was really exciting. Even despite COVID, the master's student continued to work in the laboratory, conducting experiments. Although it was difficult to maintain a working attitude during the quarantine, laboratory research resulted in scientific papers published in professional journals, including those included in the Scopus science-based database. The work also resulted in a patent for an invention (utility model).
"The quarantine restrictions and distance learning exhausted me a bit," says Anna, "so I decided to try my hand at production for a while and, after successfully defending my master's thesis, I went to work as a process engineer at Slavic Wallpaper-KFTP. First of all, she monitored compliance with the production technology, participated in solving technological problems and implementing innovative solutions into existing processes. But she was not destined to become a production manager. The large-scale enemy invasion that began on February 24 made its own adjustments. "I really wanted to go back to my native department, where my colleagues became my friends and provided me with tangible psychological support," she admits.
Today. Today, the PhD student is very responsible for the implementation of her research plan, because she understands how relevant and necessary her developments are for Ukraine. The students of the department, such as master's student Mariia Pinkas, are also involved in the joint work. Recently, A. Gondovska and M. Pinkas were awarded the Kyiv Mayor's Prize for outstanding achievements of young people in the development of the capital of Ukraine, the hero city of Kyiv. The award ceremony took place in the Column Hall of the Kyiv City State Administration.
"Although my postgraduate studies began with power outages and shelling, we were able to accomplish part of our plans," the scientist says confidently, "Our research on the manufacture of cellulose membranes has just begun, but we are confidently moving forward, and perhaps the methods of purifying contaminated water that we will develop will have not only scientific recognition but also industrial application. Everything is changing, everything is moving forward, and we have to set this direction."
He adds: "Our defenders are working on the frontline, we must work here and bring us all closer to Victory. For the development of the state, we need specialized specialists in various industries, and pulp and paper is no exception. As a future teacher, I want to make every effort to ensure that students receive a quality education and are interested in their profession. After all, it is the current freshmen who will build and develop our country. Every step we take is a step towards victory."