MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. Can a PVC dome keep you warm in extreme frosts? The North-Eastern Federal University’s experts made an experiment to see whether it may work. They covered a house with a dome. TASS correspondent Dmitry Osipov writes about the experiment, its organizers and the main participant.
Three years earlier, Vitaly Litvinov moved to a deserted area some 40km from Yakutsk – a coldest city in the world. Winter frosts may be as harsh as minus 50 degrees. This climate does not frighten off Vitaly, who now lives literally in a greenhouse: his house is covered with a dome, and thus the air temperature around the house is 20 degrees higher than any frosts outside the cover.
What the experiment is about
The dome home idea occurred to scientists of the Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University and Sinet Group (an association of IT companies, non-profit projects and development initiatives). The dome, weighing five tonnes, covers a one-story house with a garage. The project’s objective is to see how domes could be used for various buildings and facilities in unfriendly climate conditions.
According to Arsen Tomsky, the founder and director of the inDriver Company and the founder of the Sinet Group of Companies, he has been thinking since 2015 about using domes to cut the negative impact from extreme frosts.
The house is the “first test,” he says, and “an impetus for all to see that modern technologies can improve life in the North.”
On March 25, 2019, he posted on a social network the plan to build a dome. Seven months later, in October, the construction was completed.
“In 2019, the first dome was financed by the inDriver Company,” he said. “This year, I want to build near Yakutsk, at my own expense, a bigger, 60-tonne dome.”
If the technology proves to be efficient, he could develop it in two directions: smaller domes over houses and big geo-domes over districts. “We may even have a moving artificial Sun on the sky there. Why not?!”
A dream house
Vitaly learned about the experiment from a local newspaper in summer, 2019. More than 60 volunteers applied for the project. The young man, born in Altai, loves the nature and scenic views. But to see such, he had to go to the countryside. The chance to live on his own and to have a permanent view of mountains attracted Vitaly greatly.
“The idea wouldn’t leave me, I sent out my resume. The advantages are – to have a balanced life without rushing, to work out in the open. Back then, I had to take transport to get out from the city to jog in the countryside and then to return home,” he told TASS.
The project’s condition was – the participant was to watch equipment under the dome: a meteorology station and special devices to measure the permafrost’s temperatures. “The project’s key idea is energy efficiency. In fact, even in minus 50 degrees, the air temperature under the dome is about 20 degrees warmer,” he said.
Vitaly manages the house fine. “I can rely on myself only,” he said. “There are no neighbors, so I had to fix failures by myself.” His another responsibility is to use and watch the coal stove.
The dome, which keeps the warmth inside, also cuts noises and stops winds. “A runway is not far from the house, but it is absolutely quiet under the dome. Remember the SpongeBob series and squirrel Sandy’s house under a glass dome?” he said with a smile.
The dome form is not an incidental choice. “First of all, it is stable. Secondly, since the dome is round, the snow slides down and you do not need any extra effort,” Yekaterina Pavlova, Sinet’s coordinator, said.
The lonely life has many advantages, Vitaly said. “I have time to think about how I act: both correct and wrong deeds. Without noises from cars, far from hustle, my attitudes have changed. A great opportunity to think. Specifically so, when I put on earphones and run to the mountain. You can’t get this in a city. Every person faces a challenge: to do or not to do, to live in a flat or in a house, to have fresh air or not. Most people prefer easier solutions.”
A scientific experiment
There is no big difference from any other houses. It’s a comfortable one-story squared-beam house of 128 m2, with a garage. Driving to the city is not a problem, Vitaly said.
Scientists monitor energy parameters and spent fuel. The experiment’s main part is to monitor and forecast conditions of the permafrost.
The house’s heating system is nothing special. “The electricity station is a petrol-fed generator, which supplies electricity to the house’s all parts. Inside the house there is a coal stove, which is fueled once a day,” Vitaly said.
It is the first experiment to test domes on the permafrost and in extremely low temperatures, the University said. Scientists have drilled seven wells, three of them inside the house, equipped them with thermo-tubes to see the soil temperatures. The wells are 10m deep.
Two automatic meteorology stations are installed between the dome and the house and outside the dome.
“We watch how the dome changes temperatures inside it. The meteorology stations were installed in mid-January, and now we collect the data,” the University’s representative Alexandra Petrova said, adding the university students take part in the observation.
According to Yegor Slobodchikov, the University’s expert in heat and gas supplies and ventilation, the scientists also watch the house’s microclimate and heat protection.
“We want to watch thermal protection, breathability, and efficiency of houses under dome covers,” the scientist said. “We have certain data on the house and we shall compare them against parameters in similar houses, which are not covered with domes.”
Psychologists and doctors monitor conditions of the experiment’s participant. Psychologists meet with Vitaly once a month, study dynamics of his psychological and emotional conditions.
How the project will develop
“I must say, living in this house is rather comfortable. I would rather change the electricity system for permanent supplies, and everything else in the house is comfortable and fine,” Vitaly said. “I think it is an interesting and useful project. People, who speak against houses under domes, simply have not tried living in them. Under the dome, you may grow cucumbers and tomatoes even in winter.”
The experiment will continue to May 31. Vitaly says in future it would be great to have a garden outside the house. Heat-tolerant fruit and vegetables could crop there within the short northern summer. Under the dome, the season could be a few months longer than outside, Vitaly added.
Yakutia’s scientists have plans to organize a domed settlement. The technology, they say, could be used widely in Yakutia. Everything depends on parameters – they will be clear after the experiment is over.