WASHINGTON - Each morning of the weeklong 21st International Congress of Refrigeration (ICR) opened with addresses by plenary speakers. Even the closing banquet featured a keynote talk.

One of the plenary speakers was S. Forbes Pearson, whose comments appeared in the Sept. 1 issue of The News. Following is a summary of the wide-ranging addresses of other speakers.

William Phillips uses liquid nitrogen during a demonstration at the International Congress of Refrigeration.

Define ‘Cold'

In introducing the opening plenary speaker, James Hill of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) said, "If you think you know cold, you are about to hear what cold is."

With that he turned the podium over to Nobel Prize winner William Phillips, who is on staff at NIST and teaches at the University of Maryland.

Phillips used liquid nitrogen to demonstrate the effects of extreme cold. He blew up balloons and kept putting them in a cylinder with the nitrogen. After a few moments, he opened the cylinder and pulled out flat balloons, which quickly returned to their original shape at room temperature.

He pointed out that liquid nitrogen is only the beginning when exploring just how cold cold can be. He reported on research involving lasers and magnetics to bring cold down to what he called close to absolute zero.

Current applications primarily focus on maintaining atomic clocks. Future possibilities fall in the area of gyroscopes and biomedical research, especially in dealing with infections.

He noted a relationship between the research he and his colleagues do in the area of super-low-temperature applications and those in the audience who deal with commercial and industrial refrigeration. "We feel a kinship with you in refrigeration. We just get a whole lot colder."

Elsa Murano

The Food Factor

Contractors who deal with the refrigeration of food know there is a labyrinth of regulations beyond energy efficiencies and venting restrictions. The presence of food means the issue of food safety. So another plenary session at ICR featured Elsa Murano, undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She told the audience that the United States "has the best food processing and production in the world - but it is not perfect."

She called on industry to help government in "improving the safety of food," noting, "We must have the best data, our own and those of industry. Government and industry must work together."

She admitted this relationship is a new concept; government has long relied on its own data to monitor food safety. She wondered aloud, "How do we motivate industry to work with us?"

In a question-and-answer session that followed, Murano said it is possible that those in food-related industries would be reluctant to submit documentation that could motivate government agencies to shut down a facility with food products, when industry officials would prefer quickly correcting a problem on their own.

Francois Billiard

Heat Waves

The ICR came during the heat wave that pushed temperatures to record highs of 100°F throughout much of Europe.

Francois Billiard, director of the International Institute of Refrigeration, sponsor of the ICR, found that the topic came up frequently during the Q&A session following his plenary address ("Serving the Needs of Mankind"). He was asked if he thought events in Europe would increase a demand for air conditioning, which is typically not widely used.

"Yes certainly," he said. "There is an increase in air conditioning demand. Many will equip their houses for the next year."

Billiard traced the growth of ICR since its founding in 1908, noting that over the years the organization has published some 190,000 abstracts and collected close to 7,000 books in its Paris library. All of this has taken place in an organization that currently "has a small team of 14 people and a budget that is relatively small."

IIR relies on an extensive number of volunteers. He noted that some 250 persons in 30 countries do strategic planning.

Currently the issue of global warming "is one of the most difficult challenges. We need to promote a fair approach." In addition, he said IIR needs to remain in the forefront of creating refrigeration systems that reduce food losses and do a better job bringing food supplies to developing countries.

David Herbek

Into Space

The conference demonstrated just how wide-ranging HVACR needs are. David Herbek, from the Office of Spaceflight at NASA and former mission control flight controller, talked about creating comfort at the International Space Station.

"Heating and cooling in space requires you to take everything you do into microgravity," he explained. "And everything doesn't work the same as on earth."

He went into a detailed description of the mechanical HVACR system at the space station that included water coolant loops and a single-phase ammonia radiator loop. "In space there is no option but to seal the environment. So equipment has to take care of containments."

One of his comments concerning space exploration applied to the engineers and their research on earth. "Our goal is turning the challenges of today into the opportunities of tomorrow."

Woody Sutton

Comfort Cooling

ARI president Woody Sutton praised those involved in the "science of refrigeration" during an address at the closing banquet: "Without air conditioning, Miami would be a much smaller town. There is no question that comfort cooling has changed the way we live."

He pointed out that researchers don't get the credit they deserve when it comes to such critical areas of refrigeration as in hospitals and in food preservation.

"Hospitals operate 24/7 and you don't get credit for saving many, many lives a year. You researchers and engineers have also developed equipment to better preserve food and provide less fortunate people with nutritious and safe food."

As research continues, "You should save lives by the hundreds of thousands in the future and bring a better quality of life to billions more around the world."

As a representative of an organization of manufacturers, Sutton promised to take theories of the researchers and engineers and seek ways to make them a reality. "Manufacturers are standing by to translate your ideas into technical reality. We will develop the equipment to provide solutions to the saving of energy and improving the environment."

Ron Vallort

Sidebar: IIR Honors Industry Service

The closing banquet was a time for extending honors and recognitions. Ron Vallort, who has his own consulting firm and has high-ranking positions in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, was presented the Penzer Award for his service to the industry.

IIR Medals of Merit were given to Ray Cohen of Purdue University and Lino Mattarolo of Italy for providing inspiration to future generations.

Finally, S. Forbes Pearson of Star Refrigeration was given the Gustav Lorentzen Medal for his contributions.

Publication date: 11/03/2003