Interview with Author and Keynote Speaker Thomas Hager

Organized by AIChE’s Ammonia Safety Committee, the Annual Safety in Ammonia Plants and Related Facilities Symposium is dedicated to improving the safety of plants that manufacture ammonia and related chemicals, such as urea, nitric acid, ammonia nitrate, and methanol. The keynote speaker, Thomas Hager, will be presenting his address on The Alchemy of Air: How Two Men Turned a Tabletop Prototype into a City-sized Factory in just Four Years. We spoke with Thomas about his opinion on ammonia plant safety and what he sees as highlights at the Symposium.

In your opinion, what is the most important current trend in ammonia and safety?

The ammonia industry as a whole continues to find ways to improve safety, and correspondingly, overall performance through advancements in equipment design, materials of construction, mechanical integrity evaluations, rotating equipment monitoring, and avoidance of incidents that have occurred recently in industry.

Which sessions or speakers would you like to highlight as new or noteworthy for the 63rd Annual Safety in Ammonia Plants and Related Facilities Symposium?

This year’s symposium includes speakers who feature all of these topics I mentioned and more. Presentations are being prepared by both producers and technology providers to provide insights on ways to improve overall plant performance and especially safety performance. By participating in this conference, not only can you hear firsthand how competitors and technology providers are improving the industry, but you also have the opportunity to network directly with those individuals to learn more about the topics that interest you most.

What message would you like the audience to take away from this year’s Ammonia and Safety symposium?

Experiences from all over the globe are being shared at this conference, including solutions from other industries that are crossing over. Through sharing information and lessons learned in this conference, ammonia and related facilities can prevent safety-related issues using proven techniques.

How do you envision safety in ammonia plants advancing some of the Grand Challenges in engineering and society (medicine, health informatics, etc.)?

Ammonia plants and related facilities are responsible for producing fertilizers that farmers need to feed the growing world population. Meeting this challenge in a safe and responsible manner is key to maintaining public support for continued operation of these facilities. The symposium is one tool used by the industry to advance safety by sharing lessons learned in an open forum.

You can still register for the 63rd Annual Safety in Ammonia Plants and Related Facilities Symposium taking place September 16-20, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

Thomas Hager

Thomas Hager writes dramatic stories about the ways science and technology affect our lives. A strong advocate for better science communication, he has delivered scores of speeches around the world to Fortune 500 companies, research universities, professional associations, and agricultural and energy groups. His media appearances include C-Span’s “BookTV,” National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition,” “Science Friday,” and “Tech Nation.” He is a Courtesy Associate Professor of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon.