Vladimir Grigorevich Shukhov

Shukhov, Vladimir Grigor’evich


Born Aug. 16 (28), 1853, in Graivoron, in what is now Belgorod Oblast; died Feb. 2, 1939, in Moscow. Soviet engineer and scientist. Honorary academician (1929; corresponding member, 1928). Hero of Labor (1932). Member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (1927).

Upon his graduation from the Moscow Higher Technical School in 1876, Shukhov was sent to the United States to pursue his studies further. In 1877 and 1878 he headed the design office of the Warsaw Railroad in St. Petersburg. He was named chief engineer of a construction-engineering office in Moscow in 1878. After the October Revolution of 1917, Shukhov worked in Moscow in the construction office of the Parastroi Plant and, later, at the plant itself.

Shukhov’s principal works dealt with petroleum engineering, heat engineering, and construction. He was holder or coholder of a number of patents for industrial equipment that refined or used petroleum. In 1891 he patented an industrial apparatus used for the fractional distillation of petroleum by means of high temperatures and pressures. Because the apparatus was the first to involve cracking in the liquid phase, Shukhov is recognized as the inventor of the cracking process. He was also the first to effect industrial flame-front combustion of liquid fuel with an atomizing nozzle, which he invented in 1880. The nozzle made possible the efficient burning of mazut, which up to that time had been a mere waste product. In addition, Shukhov designed a furnace in which the air was heated before it reached the flame front.

Shukhov designed and supervised the construction of Russia’s first petroleum pipeline, which in 1878 extended from the Bala-khany oil fields to Baku. Later, also in Baku, he built the world’s first preheated-mazut pipeline. Shukhov directed the design and construction of Russia’s first metal oil tanker and was responsible for the introduction of riveted oil-storage tanks. Shukhov’s solution to the problem of optimum storage-tank dimensions has been used in many branches of industry.

Shukhov’s scientific and engineering work involved extremely diverse areas of technology. He developed water-tube boilers that became world famous, and he created designs for lightweight, economical roofs. Among the designs were those for suspended, web-frame roofs covering areas of several thousand square meters; arched, metal roofs such as the overhead cover of the platforms at the Kiev Railroad Terminal in Moscow; and web-frame and doubly curved vaults with spans of up to 40 m.

Shukhov’s designs have been used for approximately 200 towers both in the USSR and abroad, including the Shabolovka Radio Tower in Moscow. Approximately 500 bridges were designed and built under Shukhov’s direction, some spanning rivers, such as the Oka, the Volga, and the Enisei. Shukhov also supervised the design and construction of grain elevators, blast furnaces, floodgates for floating dry docks, and the revolving stage of the Moscow Art Academic Theater. He planned and directed the raising of the leaning minaret of the Ulug Beg Madrasa in Samarkand and took part in the development and production of several types of obstacle-mine systems, mine fuzes, and platforms for heavy guns.

Shukhov received the V. I. Lenin Award in 1929.


Leibenzon, L. S. “Vladimir Grigor’evich Shukhov.” In Liudi russkoi nauki. Moscow, 1965.
Konfederatov, I. Ia. V. G. Shukhov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Lopatto, A. E. Pochetnyi akademik Vladimir Grigor’evich Shukhovvydaiushchiisia russkii inzhener. Moscow, 1951.