Hartford Connecticut was the location of this year’s American Cryogenic Engineering Conference (CEC) 2019.

The CEC event falls between the International Cryogenic Engineering Conference (ICEC), which alternates every two years between Europe and Asia. Last year it was held in Oxford, and next year it will be held in Hangzhou, China. The International Cryogenic Materials Conference (ICMC) is twinned with both the CEC and ICMC, taking place every year.

America does everything on an industrial scale, from highways to hamburgers, and the same can be said for its conference centres! Roughly 600 delegates arrived in Hartford for the event during the last full week of July, far from filling the vast, spacious Hartford Convention Center.

The British contingent to the delegates included Simon Canfer and Shrikant Pattalwar from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Neil Clarke from Oxford Instruments, John Durrell from Cambridge University, Quan Li from Edinburgh University, Yifeng Yang from Southampton University, David Evans from the ICMC and myself on behalf of the British Cryogenics Council (BCC) and the ICEC.

ICEoxford and Cryocoax were amongst the 48 exhibitors, which included further international corporate BCC members – Air Liquide, Cryomech, PBS Velka Bites, Quantum Design, RUAG Space, Stöhr Armaturen and Sumitomo Cryogenics.

Each of the four days began with awards and excellent plenary talks covering hydrogen, electric aircrafts, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) in Michigan and the SPARC Fusion Power initiative at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Rao Ganni became the latest in a long line of distinguished recipients of the Samuel Collins Award. Some readers may remember Rao giving a talk on the Cryogenic System at Jefferson Lab to an audience at Rutherford Appleton Lab on 7th October 2010. Mentioning Rutherford there is a reminder of the invention of ‘Rutherford Cable’ – a form of superconducting cable invented in 1972 by a team led by Martin Wilson, who should take pride in the name Rutherford Cable appearing in the title of at least three posters at the conference, 47 years later!

In his Hydrogen Plenary talk, Andy Marsh said Plug Power, located close to GE in upstate New York, now handles more hydrogen than NASA at 20 tonnes a day. He pointed to forklift trucks in Amazon and Walmart warehouses as a big application. Marsh laid some challenges for the development of dual phase liquid pumps, and in storage, to get around 700 bar pressures and to reduce boil-off.

Mykhaylo Filipenko from Siemens spoke on Electric Aircraft – a topic addressed in at least half a dozen other papers, indicating the growth of interest in this application.

Thomas Glasmacher spoke on the FRIB project in Michigan, and the ‘MSU Cryogenic Initiative’ to educate the next generation of cryogenic engineers and ensure retention of knowledge, in recognition of a difficulty in finding people with the right expertise, critical to successful implementation of the project.

Across the four days, bookended by receptions and punctuated by a fun run before breakfast one morning, papers were presented in 52 Oral and 37 poster sessions, covering topics from Rotating Machinery, Aerospace, Superconducting Magnets, Helium and Other Gases, Heat Exchangers, Safety, Medical & Biological Applications, Insulation, Transportation, Superconducting Cables, Quantum Technology and more!

There were papers on Liquid Air Energy Storage and even one on the ‘Development of a Cryogenic Device for Peeling Fruits’. Is there no end to the enabling capacity of cryogenics? CERN Indico has become the platform of choice for anyone seeking more detailed information on the papers.

Next year, the 28th International Cryogenic Engineering Conference and International Cryogenic Materials Conference (ICEC28-ICMC2020) will be held at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China from 31st August to 4th September 2020.

The Cryogenic Engineering Conference and International Cryogenic Materials Conferences (CEC-ICMC) will return in 2021 and will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii from 16th to 20th May.

About the author

15EC4240 Cryogenic Cluster day

John Vandore first encountered cryogenics running Truflo Valves in Birmingham in 1987, making Cryogenic Ball Valves for LNG, with subsequent roles running Bestobell Valves, Thames Cryogenics and as President of Goddard Cryogenics in America. 

He is Trustee of the British Cryogenics Council, responsible for coordinating the British Cryogenic Cluster, and is Secretary to the International Cryogenic Engineering Conference Board.