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Leo K. Kovalev

Leo K. Kovalev

January 1, 1942 to January 28, 2014
Leo K. Kovalev (December 2012)

Leo K. Kovalev, 1941 - 2014, Remembered

February 7, 2014 (PO26). On January 28, 2014, Prof. Leo K. Kovalev suddenly passed away in Moscow from a myocardial infarction at the age of 72. To the superconducting electro-machinery community, Leo K. Kovalev was well known worldwide through his work on electric machines with HTS bulk elements, comprising hysteresis motors, reluctance motors and motors utilizing permanent magnets. He also paid great attention to HTS-magnetic-suspension systems for high-speed rail-borne transportation and flywheels.

In 1964, he started his professional career at the Central Institute of Aircraft Engines, Moscow, after graduating from Moscow State Technical University Named After N. E. Bauman. A few years later he joined the Department of Electric Machines, the Dept. 310, of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), headed by Prof. Albert I. Bertinov. During that time he pursued research in the field of MHD (magneto-hydrodynamic) energy conversion, and in 1972 he finished his Science Candidate (doctoral) dissertation on MHD generators. For the following ten years his research activity shifted to ionosphere radio physics, hydrodynamics and radio waves propagation at the Scientific Research Institute of Long-Haul Radio. During 1980-1982 he was the Deputy General Constructor of that institute. In 1982 he returned to the Dept.310 of MAI, headed at that time by Prof. Dmitry A. But, and continued research on MHD problems and in parallel extended his interest to low-temperature superconducting electric machines. When In 1986, when high-temperature superconductivity (HTS) was discovered, Leo concentrated his research on HTS electric machines and developed several series of cryogenic electric machines utilizing bulk HTS elements, operating at liquid nitrogen temperatures. He is the author of four books and more than 200 scientific and technical papers. In 1996 he attained his D.Sc. (habilitation equivalent) degree and became a Professor. Since 2002 he headed Dept. 310 of MAI, and in that same year he was awarded the State Prize of Russian Government in the field of Science and Technology. He initiated “The Centre of Superconducting Electric Machines and Devices” at MAI. Leo was an enthusiastic specialist in electromechanics, applied superconductivity, hydrodynamics and radio physics. He liked to first identify new scientific problems and then to solve them.

He actively took part in the international development of superconducting electric machines and was one of the initiators of the German-Russian cooperation, leading to the design and development of superconducting electric motors with liquid nitrogen cooling. The consortium comprised: Oswald Elektromotoren GmbH (Miltenberg), Stuttgart Technical University, IPHT (Jena), IFW (Dresden), Moscow Aviation Institute, A.A. Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials (Moscow), All-Russian Electrotechnical Institute (Moscow), and the Institute for Solid State Physics (Chernogolovka, Moscow region).

Prof. Leo K. Kovalev was an Academician of the Russian Academy of Electrotechnical Sciences, an Honored Scientist of Russian Federation (RF), and an advisory council member of Highest Certifying Commission (RF).

Besides his research activities, Leo K. Kovalev was a true intellectual and a real friend for all his partners. Everyone who visited his Moscow home or countryside residence was surrounded with hospitality and warmth. He possessed a rare gift of charming his interlocutor from the very first words of communication.  He left behind his dear wife Tatiana and a son, who like all of us will miss him very much.

Vladimir T. Penkin and Konstantin L. Kovalev