[Image above] UNITECR Distinguished Life Members participate in a traditional sake barrel ceremony during the UNITECR 2019 banquet. Credit: ACerS
Yokohama, Japan. Less than 24 hours before the scheduled start of the 2019 Unified International Technical Conference on Refractories (UNITECR) in Yokohama, Japan, Super Typhoon Hagibis came barreling through northern Japan, dumping more than three feet of rain in just 24 hours. The storm killed more than 80 people and devastated parts of northern Japan, flooding more than 1,000 houses, according to the Washington Post and Japanese news outlets.
Just prior to the category-2 typhoon making landfall on October 16, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred off the coast of Chiba Prefecture, which includes Tokyo. Air and train travel in and out of Tokyo was at a standstill on that Saturday. The Rugby World Cup Organizers cancelled two matches as a result of the storm. It was a dire weather situation and a worst-case scenario for a meeting organizer.
Once the storm passed, organizers of the 16th biennial worldwide congress on refractories from the Technical Association of Refractories, Japan (TARJ) decided to move forward with the Oct. 13–16, 2019 conference at Pacifico Yokohama. The choice turned out to be a good one.
More than 680 people registered for UNITECR 2019 from 34 countries braved the weather, and ensuing travel conditions, to attend. There were also 102 exhibitors on hand.
UNITECR 2019 featured 241 scheduled presentations on topics including refractories for iron and steel; refractories for glass; refractories for nonferrous metallurgy; refractories for cement; refractories for petrochemical processes; refractories for waste incineration and others; raw materials; environmental sustainability and recycling; advances in manufacturing, installation, and equipment; refractory engineering systems and design; basic science; energy saving and insulation; testing of refractories; education; industrial refractories applications; high temperature engineering ceramics; and collaboration among customers, manufacturers, and academia.
Three UNITECR Distinguished Life Members (DLMs) were inducted in 2019: Pablo Valenzuela from ALAFAR (Asociacion Latinoamericana de Fabricantes de Refractarios), Shri Gopal Rajgarhia from IRMA (Indian Refractory Makers Association), and Noboru Tsukamoto from TARJ. Valenzuela and Tsukamoto both donned a blue jacket and joined other DLMs on stage at the banquet to participate in a traditional sake barrel ceremony.
UNITECR 2021 will be organized by the North American Members of the UNITECR International Executive Board and hosted by The American Ceramic Society in Chicago, Ill, Sept. 14–17, 2021. For more information, or to submit your abstract, visit UNITECR2021.org.
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