As ICC4 president Katherine Faber noted last week in her video invitation to the July 15-19 event in Chicago, the congress is designed to foster discussion and planning concerning issues facing the global ceramic and glass communities, and gain insights into emerging opportunities, future business trends and the accompanying research, development and deployment challenges.
Put another way, these confabs channel powerful and diverse currents in the ceramics and glass fields into an amazing river of collaborative and cross-fertilization opportunities. How so? Faber, her technical programming cochair, Edgar Lara-Curzio, along with International Ceramic Federation President Gary Messing and other congress organizers and ICF leaders, deserve praise for fostering synergistic participation that:
- Offers comprehensive international engagement (with support from at least 26 ceramic and glass organizations and societies);
- Spans the entire materials “transmission” belt—from the basic and applied researcher to development and processing experts to top market gurus and business leaders;
- Includes interests that extend from the nano and atomic scales all the way up to building construction and transportation systems; and
- Provides lessons and expertise from academia, nonprofit labs, market researchers, government officials and representatives of small, medium and large businesses.
Even with this diversity, it is apparent that there is one subject that seems like it will tackled from just about every conceivable angle during ICC4 events: Energy. This isn’t too surprising given world events.
Indeed, one arena where diverse energy interests will be heralded is in the outstanding plenary presentations planned for ICC4, where at least three of the speakers will directly address the topic. Here is some of what you can expect.
David Bem (global director for R&D, Dow Chemical Co.): “Dow Materials Innovation - Impacting the Future of Energy”
Bem says the world requires technologies that provide cost-effective and efficient energy generation and use, while minimizing the impact on the environment. He believes that innovations in ceramic and inorganic materials will greatly contribute to these solutions (as they have in the past). One area Bem will cover is energy-efficiency improvements in the transportation industry. These include low-cost, high-performance solutions for emission control systems and durable higher-power-density battery materials. Bem also promises to discuss the challenges and advances required to make photovoltaic technology a large-scale energy alternative, such as critical raw materials and elements supplies, balance-of-system costs and techniques to integrate PV’s into multifunctional structures.
Athanasios Konstandopoulos (Chemical Process Engineering Research Institute/Center for Research and Technology-Hellas): “Multifunctional Ceramic Reactors for Green Mobility and Clean Energy Production”
Konstandopoulos says that groundbreaking advances in the area of “green” mobility and clean energy production will be achieved by the development of highly compact, multifunctional ceramic reactors. One type of such reactor he will discuss can significantly reduce gaseous and particulate emissions from the exhaust of combustion engines, while another type enables the production of carbon-neutral fuels (H2 and hydrocarbons) using exclusively renewable/recyclable raw materials. Konstandopoulos says experience developed over the past 20 years in the area of diesel emission control reactors is being extended and cross-fertilized to make progress with solar thermochemical reactors, and says he will report on recent progress.
Gary Calabrese (senior vice president for new business development, Corning Inc.): “Inventing the Future with New Materials”
Calabrese, who also has served as Corning’s vice president of science & technology, exudes optimism. He says that since the dawn of man, discovery or invention of new materials has provided an ever-increasing capability to engineer useful new things. He says, “as long as we keep inventing new materials, we will get more Internet bandwidth and ubiquity, live longer, and make better use of scarce global resources such as water and fossil fuels. Calabrese will detail his historical perspective and also illustrate, by looking at some examples of new materials, how he sees this will playing out in the future.
Besides these plenary speakers, other outstanding energy and energy-related topics and experts will also be plentiful among the presentations made in the various ICC4 applications areas.
Energy is just one of the congress’ cross-cutting themes. There are plenty of other to explore, and, indeed, everyone in the ICC4 plenary speakers lineup looks great (and I will be writing about the others soon). But, it’s clear that if the topic of energy and related materials gets you wired, ICC4 is going to be the place to be this summer.