I was fascinated reading last week’s online Wall Street Journal story of Viktor Petrik, a self-described inventor, whose inventions are sometimes labeled as legitimate breakthroughs while others describe the inventor himself as nothing more than a charlatan.
I have noted before Russia’s peculiar affinity for these entertaining yarns and this attraction is even noted in the WSJ piece.
This strange tale relates to nanotechnology mainly because of one of Mr. Petrik’s inventions, which is a water filter supposedly made from nanomaterials that since winning an award in 2007 has been installed in schools, homes and hospitals within regions controlled by the ruling party, United Russia.
While Russia’s ruling party has been quick to defend and promote Petrik’s work, it seems other Russian scientists have remained skeptical and gone so far to test some of it. Eduard Kruglyakov, a physicist who heads a special commission of Russia's Academy of Sciences, examined the nano-enabled filter with what the WSJ describes as “high-powered equipment” (presumably microscopy tools) and declared there was no sign of nanotechnology in the filter. Needless to say, Mr. Petrik rejected this conclusion.
The story goes on to detail how Rusnano is now funding some of his work and that he will be competing for funding in a “a national clean-water program that some officials have said could be worth as much as $500 billion over the next decade.”The whole story--while fascinating--has me scratching my head since Argonide Corporation in Florida has had nano-enabled water filters for drinking water on the commercial markets for quite a number of years now. There may be some market for forcing ruling party-controlled regions to install Petrik’s water filters in buildings but it doesn’t constitute much of a market outside those regions.
Dexter Johnson is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum, with a focus on nanotechnology.