Participation at the 21st Mendeleev Congress in St. Petersburg

The 21st Mendeleev Congress for General and Applied Chemistry was held in St. Petersburg (Russia) from 9 to 13 September 2019.

It was one of the most important events of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. The Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev, who was honored with this conference in 1907, the year of his death, and the German chemist Lothar Meyer recognized the Periodic Table almost simultaneously in 1869. 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the periodic table. The United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO therefore proclaimed 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.

With more than 3000 participants, this conference was one of the largest chemists’ conferences in Russia. This was reflected in the high-profile opening event opened by the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Sergeev. He conveyed greetings from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev then gave a speech in which he pointed out the importance of international cooperation in science beyond the current political situations and tensions:

“These days it is essential that research consists of cross-border cooperation and all research is global by definition. […] this erases boundaries and consolidates the foundation for international cooperation. Many remarkable discoveries are made as part of collaborations. I strongly believe that the Mendeleev Congress will [...] facilitating new contacts and stronger ties that researchers have always maintained, regardless of any momentary political considerations or tension that are short-lived. Scientific thought, on the contrary, is constant.”

Further speakers included the President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the Mayor of the city and the Rector of the Saint Petersburg Mining University. In addition, Andrei Guryev, CEO of PhosAgro – the largest producer of phosphate fertilizers in Europe – surprised the audience by donating a Periodic Table with predominantly pure elements to the Mining University. The modern ballet and media demonstrations during the breaks between speeches once again set very special accents. Following the opening, the scientific part of the conference began with the Nobel Laureate lectures by William Moerner (Chemistry Nobel Prize 2014) and Jean-Pierre Sauvage (Chemistry Nobel Prize 2016) – another superlative. Yuri Oganesjan (eponym of the element 118) and Sir Martyn Poliakoff (known from the video series “Periodic Videos”) then spoke.

In the course of the conference’s plenary lectures Evgeny Kablov, director of the All-Russian Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM) presented the Russian strategy in the field of construction materials in his lecture “The function of fundamental studies in development of the new generation materials” whereby Vyacheslav Buznik, head of the Materials for the Arctic Climate Laboratory of the same institute, spoke on “Materials for development of arctic and cold territories”. Of particular interest was the plenary lecture by Jean-Marie Terascon, currently one of the most important scientists in the field of electrochemistry. In his lecture “From materials innovations to new sustainable battery chemistries” he pointed out the necessity of further secondary battery technologies besides the lithium-ion accumulator in order to mitigate future resource challenges in the battery sector. In particular, he focused on the sodium ion accumulator, whereby alternatives still have to be found for the vanadium contained in the cathode material. Another highlight was the lecture by Ewine van Dishoeck on “Origin of elements and chemistry in space”.

In the section “Chemical aspects of modern energetics and alternative energy resources” Tilmann Leisegang from the Institute of Experimental Physics (IEP) presented results of the project “R2RBattery” in his lecture “The aluminum-ion battery – Materials and perspective”. Right before Evgeny Antipov spoke on “Alkali and transition metal fluoride-phosphates as perspective cathode materials for metal-ion batteries”. During the symposium "Elemental materials for electrochemical energy", organized by Evgeny Antipov from Skoltech, Artem Kabanov from the Samara Center for Theoretical Materials Science (SCTMS), which is a long-term cooperation partner of the IEP, presented in his lecture “Identification of new high-valent ionic conductors by using combination of topological and DFT methods” a new and worldwide first database on materials for high-valent ion batteries ( Results of the projects “R2RBattery” and “CryPhysConcept” of the IEP are also included in this database. It contains known and predicted materials with ion conducting properties that could be used as materials for high-valent ion batteries. So far, Na ion conductors predicted by the IEP and the SCTMS have already been verified experimentally by two groups independently. The keynote lectures by Jean-Marie Terascon, Prabeer Barpanda, and Helmuth Ehrenberg were further highlights in this section.

“The Mendeleev Congress was a superlative of scientific conferences and a successful promotion, communication and visibility of the research results of the “R2RBattery” project on an international level.” said Dr. Leisegang.

Tilmann Leisegang and a Periodic Table including mostly original pure elements.

Dr. Tilmann Leisegang