[Image above] Almatis gave away eclipse glasses during the tabletop expo at the 59th Annual Symposium on Refractories to prepare attendees for the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Credit: ACerS

ACerS Greater Missouri Section and Refractory Ceramics Division held the 59th Annual Symposium on Refractories in St. Louis, Mo., March 26–28, 2024. Co-program chairs were Kenneth Andrew Domann of Rath Group and Brett Ervin of Imerys.

The symposium is a pivotal gathering for professionals and enthusiasts in the field of refractories. This year’s theme, “Unleashing refractory potential: Root cause analysis,” set the stage for an exploration of innovative solutions in the world of refractory ceramics.

The symposium kicked off with a lively event at Westport Social on the evening of March 26, setting a vibrant tone for the following days of intensive discussions and presentations. The main sessions took place at the Hilton St. Louis Airport Hotel, offering a familiar environment for knowledge exchange and networking.

Beau Billet of the Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation (far left) and Refractory Ceramics Division chair Bob Hunter (far right) pose with students at the tabletop expo. Credit: ACerS

During the opening session, Refractory Ceramics Division chair Bob Hunter welcomed the 238 attendees, who came from 11 countries. The Refractory Ceramics Division also offered student travel grants to support the next generation of professionals in attending the symposium. This initiative reflects a commitment to nurturing talent and fostering collaboration within the industry.

Refractory consultant Tom Vert gave the keynote speech on conducting a root cause analysis. He used the example of a steel ladle argon system breakout and walked attendees through the process of analyzing the breakout. He likened the process to being a detective, such as in the crime drama television series Columbo. Vert also published a written version of his speech in the March 2024 issue of the ACerS Bulletin, which you can read here.

Tom Vert gave the keynote speech at the 59th Annual Symposium on Refractories. Credit: ACerS

A diverse range of topics were covered during the symposium, showcasing the depth and breadth of research and practical applications in the field of refractory ceramics. From fracture toughness analysis to post-mortem investigations, each presentation gave valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities within the industry.

Speakers from renowned organizations such as Vesuvius Research, Shinagawa Refractories Co., ArcelorMittal Refractories, and Elkem, among others, shared their expertise and findings. Topics included innovative solutions for steel ladle bottom repair, diagnosis of installation failures, and mitigation methods for alkali attack, to name just a few.

James G. Hemrick of Oak Ridge National Laboratory was this year’s recipient of the Theodore J. Planje St. Louis Refractories Award. This award is given to those who show excellence in the field of refractories. Jeff Smith of Missouri S&T presented Hemrick with the award, and Hemrick then posed with many previous award recipients for a photo.

James G. Hemrick poses with the Planje award plaque and previous award recipients. Credit: ACerS

In addition to the presentations, attendees got to explore the latest refractory products in the tabletop expo. Vendors showcased their offerings, providing attendees with a hands-on experience and the chance to engage directly with industry representatives. From cutting-edge refractory materials to advanced testing equipment, exhibitors showcase their innovations through live demonstrations, samples, and interactive displays.

Vendors also had plenty of fun giveaways for the attendees. In fact, Almatis was handing out eclipse glasses for people and their families to enjoy the solar eclipse crossing through much of North America on April 8, 2024 (see header photo of this article).

View more photos from the event on ACerS Flickr page. Join us for next year’s symposium in St. Louis in March 2025!