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WOCA 2009 - Where Ash Expertise Mixed with Southern Hospitality

Tom Robl and Tom Adams welcoming WOCA attendees

The third World of Coal Ash (WOCA) Conference was held in Lexington, Kentucky May 4 - 7, 2009. As with the previous two meetings, the 2009 conference was organized by the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER).

Even in today's slow economy, this very successful conference saw participation of over 500 attendees from nearly two dozen countries.

We would like to thank our generous sponsors and exhibitors for their support and participation, without which the meeting literally would not exist. This year we saw record-breaking attendance of more than 50 exhibitors.

WOCA exhibitors

The variety of coal-combustion byproduct topics and presentations were guaranteed to enhance career and research interests. The plenary session was devoted to discussions by speakers from TVA, the US EPA, The Kentucky Resources Council, and engineering firms about the Kingston, TN ash spill -- lessons learned, planned actions and implications of this ash spill on the US ash industry.

One of the highlights of this year's conference was a corner of the exhibit hall devoted to 'fly-ash furniture' created by students of UK's College of Design, along with the technical assistance of CAER researchers. It isn't often that such divergent areas of the university (i.e., artists and scientists) can collaborate. The furniture created by the students shows the high-value products that can be dreamed up when worlds collide.

UK design students create furniture made with fly ash

Another new dimension of the meeting was the first Student Oral Presentation and Poster Awards. We were pleased with student participation, with six posters presented and 20 oral presentations made. In addition, the Midwest Coal Ash Association (MCAA) reached out to universities by awarding four, $500 scholarships to students who presented a paper or poster at the conference.

Students that presented at WOCA 2009

As with any long-term endeavor, some of the characters are bound to change over time. Such it was with the outgoing director of ACAA, Mr. David Goss and the incoming Director, Mr. Tom Adams. The organizers and developers of the joint ACAA-UK conference bid a bittersweet farewell to Dave, who was the main cheerleader, diplomat, and negotiator in getting the conference off the ground. We at UK are sad to see him go, but look forward to as productive a relationship with Tom.

Students that presented at WOCA 2009

Besides 'new management,' another change to take place at WOCA 2011 will be where the conference occurs. It will take place in the home city of the ACAA - Denver, Colorado. The southern hospitality that Kentucky has extended over the years will be replaced with a Wild West Welcome!

The meeting organizers hope to see you there!