2nd International Conference on Cryogenics and Refrigeration Technologies

The city of Bucharest hosted the 2nd International Congress on Cryogenics and Refrigeration Technologies May 7-10, welcoming attendees with delicious food, pleasant parks, numerous museums and plenty of research and conversation. The Romanian Association of Cryogenics and Refrigeration (AFCR) organized the now biennial meeting with support from Romania’s Criomec SA (CSA CSM), the International Institute of Refrigeration and, for the first time, the Cryogenic Society of America.

The still very new congress is conceived by the AFCR as a burgeoning platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to come together to present and discuss papers on recent trends, innovations, concerns and practical challenges related to all aspects of cryogenics and cryogenic engineering. The conference included a broad technical session as well as segments dedicated to medical topics and even 3-D cryoprinting.

Dr. Liviu Drughean, a professor at the Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest and president of the AFCR organizing committee, opened the congress, stressing the importance of bringing together researchers to share both experiences and research results. “It’s an obligation—from time to time—to join together people who are working not only in Romania, but in Europe and the world, so they can exchange ideas and make new friends in this domain,” he said in an interview at the close of the congress. “I think, more or less, it is mandatory to organize such an event.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Dr. Alexandru Serban, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and Criomec SA’s general manager. “This conference is important to put Romania on the map and to highlight our contribution to the fields of cryogenics and research,” he said. “We want to show the expertise of our universities and also our technical facilities, laboratories and small and major companies that work in the field.”

After opening statements from Drughean, Serban and others, the meeting began with a technical session that included presentations on the cryogenic maintenance of phase separators, helium production and recovery, development of heat exchangers for the cryogenic distillation of hydrogen isotopes and more.

Representatives from supporting organizations also spoke during the technical session. Didier Coulomb, director general of the International Institute of Refrigeration, spoke on the necessity of developing refrigeration technologies to overcome the problem of food waste during transport and other topics including the phaseout of hydrofluorocarbons. Dr. John Weisend II and Dr. Peter Shirron, on behalf of CSA, respectively discussed the cryogenic systems being installed at the European Spallation Source in Sweden and recent developments and trends in space cryogenics.

Sarah Hamdy and Stefanie Tesch pose during a break. Image: Criomec SA

Sarah Hamdy and Stefanie Tesch pose during a break. Image: Criomec SA

In an interview conducted during the congress, Drughean emphasized the importance of attracting educators and PhD students to the congress. Two such researchers in attendance were Stefanie Tesch and Sarah Hamdy, both of whom teach and study at the Technical University of Berlin’s Institute for Energy Engineering. Tesch presented an exergy evaluation of an air separation unit with pumped liquid oxygen, while Hamdy provided an economic evaluation of cryogenic-based energy storage, most often referred to as liquid air energy storage.

The two said they participate in a number of energy-related conferences annually, which is why it was very important for them to attend a conference focused on cryogenics and refrigeration systems where they could discuss specific challenges introduced to systems working at cryogenic temperatures. “As a number of representatives of industry were present at the conference,” Hamdy said, “we received a deeper insight into applicability and feasibility of our research findings.

Especially in regards to my research topic—which is a pre-commercial energy storage technology—where the exchange of knowledge and discussion with industry is of great importance, because the potential implementation of the technology is the motivation for my research.”

And in fact, several representatives of industry were at the congress both as presenters and attendees, including several CSA Corporate Sustaining Members—Air Liquide, Criomec SA, Cryotherm GmbH, Honeywell, Linde Group and Quantum Technology Corporation.

Dr. Boris Rubinsky explains the fundamentals of cryosurgery. Image: Criomec SA

Dr. Boris Rubinsky explains the fundamentals of cryosurgery. Image: Criomec SA

There were also many attendees and presenters from institutes of medicine, there to workshop topics related to cryobiology and cryosurgery. Dr. Boris Rubinsky, a Romanian and long-time professor at the University of California Berkeley, chaired the session related to cryomedical techniques and presented a lecture that grounded attendees not in the field with the confluence of cryogenics and medicine.

Part of Rubinsky’s lecture focused on the significance of matching cryosurgical techniques with cryogenics-based real-time imaging such as NMR. “This is a very exciting area that is all cryogenics,” he said.

Speakers during the medical session focused on a variety of topics, including development of a technique to use cryogenics for diagnostic real time histology and cure during the same office visit, treating cancer lesions in a focal manner, cryoelectrolysis, the problems of adapting animal studies to human patients and more. In one study, presented by Dr. Franco Lugnani, researchers addressed the use of cryo-based techniques on very sick patients who had opted not to endure, or didn’t qualify for, harsh treatments to cure severe cancers, but instead had chosen to focus on methods to “debulk” the cancer and increase survival times. One significant result from the study, Lugnani said, is that focused treatment on one lesion seemed to encourage the release of antigens to fight others. Lugnani presents a broad look at this study in an article appearing on page 42 of this issue.

The last session of the congress addressed 3-D cryoprinting. Rubinsky spoke again here, this time on the 3-D printing of water based materials in a cryogenic environment. He previously reported on advancing tissue engineering with 3-D cryoprinting in Cold Facts Vol. 33, No. 5. In this issue, he is co-author of an article on page 40 with Dr. Serban and Dr. Gabriel Nastase, an assistant professor at the Transilvania University of Brasov, that explores the advancement of 3-D additive manufacturing from aqueous materials, including the creation of 3-D printed meat, a result that aroused the curiosity—though perhaps not the appetites—of the attendees. No one asked if it tasted good.

The 3rd International Conference on Cryogenics and Refrigeration Technologies is set for 2020 and should be officially announced next year. Photo galleries from the 2nd ICCRT are available from CSA and ICCRT. ■