“This year’s conference is the best opportunity for training that the cement industry has …” stated Phil Gaynor in the preconference interview for the IEEE 2009 conference. He added “that it is important to be well informed about the latest technological trends and current legislative issues in order to be ahead for the coming economic upturn”. Despite the economic crisis, more than 650 participants, about 17 % of them cement producers, accepted his invitation, and came to the Desert Springs, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Palm Desert, California/USA (Fig. 1) to learn something about the state of the art in cement production. The majority of participants came from the US, followed by Canada and Germany (Figs. 2 and 3).
After the opening of the conference by Phil Gaynor, Head of the Palm Springs Organizing Committee, and Christopher Macey, Chairman of the IEEE-IAS 2009 Cement Industry Committee, the technical program was started. The lectures included a wide range of topics covering the fields of automation, general practice, environmental maintenance and safety, drives, power distribution and generation. Technical tutorials, held before the conference, gave practice-oriented answers to the participants’ questions. The titles of the tutorials were “Wireless primer”, “Fundamentals of bulk materials handling and pneumatic conveying technology” and “Whats’s new in alternative fuels”. The tutorials offered a good information platform to exchange experiences and discuss practice-relevant topics.
An exhibition accompanied the conference, where about 125 manufacturers presented their companies and products. Exhibition times were Sunday and Monday 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. and Tuesday 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. Every evening the participants were invited to the hospitality suites for an exchange of information and networking. An additional part of the conference was the presentation of the PCA Safety Awards. Concurrent to one session, an Environmental Workshop was held that addressed critical sustainability concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, mercury, and NOx. One of the results was that in particular possible limit values for mercury might challenge the competitiveness of individual plants in the US. Other topics covered were SNCR and SCR as well as an NESHAP update (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants). This year an OEM Cooler Round Table Panel Discussion was on the agenda. Experts from KHD, Polysius, FLSmidth, Claudius Peters and IKN presented the state of the art and put the advantages of their system up for discussion. In the meantime, many years of experience have been implemented into the development of new and efficient cooler generations. Improved cooler inlets, less snowman formation and higher uptimes at lower maintenance were some of the key features new or retrofitted cooler systems can offer. The importance of an efficient cooler system for product quality issues and heat recuperation in the cement production process was emphasized. The plant tour of the TXI Oro Grande facility rounded off the conference on Thursday. The next IEEE-IAS/PCA-Conference will be held in Colorado Springs, California/USA from 28.03.–01.04.2010.