The 27th International Cryogenic Engineering Conference and International Cryogenic Materials Conference 2018 (ICEC27-ICMC18) has been taking place in Oxford this week.

Hosted by the British Cryogenics Council and the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the event draws to a close today with a programme of technical visit.

ICEC27-ICMC18 starts today

Nearly 500 delegates attended the five-day event and enjoyed a packed programme of oral, plenary and poster sessions, as well as an exhibition comprising cryogenic equipment suppliers from around the globe.

The conference covers a wide range of topics from large scale air liquefaction, to miniature cryocoolers, magnets, superconductivity and bio-medical application.

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Professor David Evans (left), ICMC Conference Chair, has been involved with the conference as a member and Secretary of the International Cryogenic Materials Commission for a number of years.

“The Secretary of the ICEC Board and I jointly made a submission to both boards of governors for permission to hold this conference in Oxford. Once given the ok, it was fitting to take on the role of conference chair,” he explained to gasworld.

“The chair person is merely the public face of the organising and programme teams who put everything together and without whom, this conference couldn’t have happened. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge and public thank you to the teams.”

gasworld spoke to Evans during the event to find out more about current challenges in the cryogenics sector and the biggest changes he has seen in the ICMC conference over the years.

Could you tell us about your career?

Many years ago – during a short break in schooling – I spent some time in a small industrial unit forming acrylic sheets into various shapes for aircraft radomes and signs for streets and railway stations, plus encapsulating various memorabilia in clear acrylic blocks.

This experience ignited what was to become a lifelong love with plastics materials, leading to a first degree in the chemistry and technology of polymers – specialising in the physical properties of composites.

My first experience with cryogenics came at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, where I was involved in establishing a centre for measuring the physical properties of materials down to 4K – the only one in the Country at that time.

After many happy and productive years at the laboratory, I retired as Leader of the Advance Materials Group and became an Adviser to the ITER Organisation on structural and insulating composite materials at low temperatures.

ICEC27-ICMC18: Interview with Professor Neil Geddes

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the ICMC conference over the years?

At one time papers dealing with properties and applications of structural materials dominated conference proceedings. While this subject is still of importance, with many questions still to be answered, structural materials share the stage with developments in cryostat design, in superconductors and ‘dry’ (helium free) cryogenic systems.

What’s going on in the cryogenics industry at the moment from your point of view?

Activities in cryogenics, in one form or another, have literally exploded in recent years.

In the Cryogenics Impact Report, it was recently estimated that cryogenics, as an enabling technology, is likely to be found in nearly 20% of UK industrial sectors. This means some 1,500 people are employed across the UK, generating some £170m ($220m) of gross value added.

Over the next 10 years, continued (and probably accelerating growth) could mean that cryogenics will contribute over £2-3bn ($2.6-3.9bn) to the UK economy. So much is going on, it’s a major problem keeping abreast of developments.

What challenges do you see ahead in the cryogenics sector?

With the rate of expansion I’ve just spoken off, new applications in big science (fusion reactors and accelerator technology) and in miniaturisation, are queuing up to present their problems to the cryogenics materials world.