Methodology and tools to deliver refractories in a more sustainable manner, decarbonisation, energy saving options in refractories technology, energy bill relief and alternative fuels options; along with practical advice on a range of matters including lance storage to improve quality and performance, optimisation of the casting process and 3D printing technology for the refractories sector, were some of the highly debatable topics considered at the IRE’s Annual Conference in November.
The IRE Annual Conference 2022 was held at The Mowbray – a unique, historic events venue in Sheffield city centre – on 9 November. The full day of technical and business presentations was supported by a candlelit dinner in the evening with entertainment, and by a Training Day on 10 November.
Considering the current situation that affects all of industry, including the refractories sector, the theme for the conference was ‘Surviving the Energy Crisis – Industry Under Fire’. Having taken an imposed break because of Covid, IRE members were once again able to mingle with like-minded people in a formal, yet relaxed, setting to discuss the most relevant issues affecting the global refractories sector. In addition, those unable to attend in person were able to log in for a virtual experience. However, the chatter in the room, highlighted the need for personal contact to truly benefit from the various networking opportunities delegates were able to take advantage of.
Making new materials that offer energy saving options was a particular focus, such as unlocking sustainable potential of minerals, as was the need to increase the use of secondary materials. Inevitably the talk also turned to green steel (the manufacture of steel without the use of fossil fuels) and the “significant” role it can play in the quest to reach Net Zero.
Technical pathways and financial support to assist in decarbonising efforts were tackled by several speakers, as was the R&D into innovative materials that will help solve environmental and supply challenges.
Rob Flello, CEO of the British Ceramic Confederation claimed: “Ceramics is part of the solution to help the UK decarbonise.” As if to emphasise the importance of coming together to share knowledge, he reminded delegates that: “partnership working is absolutely key.” Whilst the energy crisis has gripped all those in industry, Rob Flello was optimistic about the way in which industry can move forward. “It is not an insurmountable problem,” he said. “We are under fire, but we have the solutions to solve this.”
The event also saw IRE President Katy Moss hand over the Presidency to Phil Walls, who had flown over from Australia to be a part of the conference, and in doing so she enthused about the great strides the Institute is making as it embraces a growing membership and changing business conditions. “The Institute of Refractories Engineers is like a family, and we are building on that moving forward,” she said. “I am delighted to hand over to Phil and wish him well. I would also like to thank Georgina Nicol for her efforts in organising the conference and our Council Members for their unwavering support during my presidency. We are on the up!”
Copies of the presentations are available, contact Georgina Nicol for more details, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Terms and conditions apply.
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