Keywords: Phosphate industry, Phosphoric acid technology.
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, like all my distinguished predecessors at this Francis New Address, I want first to express my deep feeling of gratitude to the Society for honouring me with the Francis New Memorial Medal. This is so much more the case because I do not feel as important as many of these brilliant predecessors. Personally I am neither a renowned scientist nor a powerful captain of industry but my personal inclination, together with the help of destiny, allowed me to devote forty years to the phosphate industry. This was at a time of exciting changes which I could view from a remarkable observation post thanks to my permanent association with the licensing activities of my company.
This association took place in different ways during the course of my career:
– Initially, when I was in charge of our phosphoric acid and derivatives manufacturing unit, the factories that we operated served as a base of expertise from which to develop new ideas and teach them to our staff. It was also a training centre for the people from all around the world to whom our technology had been licensed and, of course, as a show-case for the frequent visits of industrialists to our works at Engis near Liège.
– Later on, as Head of Research and Development, I had to supervise the development of all the processes relating to phosphoric acid production and transformation.
– Finally, I finished my career by being put in charge of the licensing activity itself.
Since my retirement from Prayon I have had the opportunity to act as Consultant for numerous international organisations, generally on missions in the developing countries of Africa.
This career profile bears witness to my fondness for the phosphate industry which made my professional life a kind of Ã¢â‚¬Å“love storyÃ¢â‚¬Â with my preferred theme of thinking and action. With your kind permission, I will avail myself of this opportunity to speak about my experience with this industry and the future we can eventually foresee.
I feel thoroughly at home in your company as I must have been a member of the Society for about twenty five years. This faithfulness to the activities of the Society takes its roots from devotion to my main duty because the opportunity for contacts which the Society offers, not only with people in the same activities but also with renowned specialists in connected fields, gave me the possibility to enlarge my knowledge base and stand back from everyday problems. In this way I had a broader view of the developments taking place and could eventually guide them on a firm foundation.
Based on this experience I will first try to review the exciting times the phosphate industry has lived through during the last forty years by addressing successively:
– the technological changes and breakthroughs
– the worldwide spread of this field of activity
– the relocation of the industry.
After this review, I propose to take stock of the current situation and try to identify some guidelines for the near future.
Armand Davister, formerly Head of Licensing, Prayon-Rupel Technologies, Engis, Belgium.
16 pages, 3 figures.