The first International Solvent Extraction Conference (ISEC) was held in 1971 in The Hague, Netherlands and was organised by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) in collaboration with the Koninklijk Instituut van Ingenieurs (Netherlands), the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK) and the European Federation of Chemical Engineering. The theme of the meeting was "Science and Technology of Solvent Extraction as Applied to all Branches of Industry" which has since that time defined the scope of ISEC meetings, covering both the science and enineering aspects of this technology.
Prior to the first ISEC meeting, other conferences concerned with solvent extraction were held. The most significant in 1962 at Gatlingburg, USA and 1965 at Harwell, UK both of which were largely concerned with the nuclear application of the technology. At that time the main application for the technology was nuclear fuel processing.
It was in 1966 that a conference held in Gothenburg, Sweden again concentrated on the chemistry, which had a wider remit than the nuclear field. This was also probably the first truly international meeting held on the issue.
Following the success of ISEC'71 with 550 delegates, a second meeting was held three years later in 1974 in Lyon, France. This event was again organised by the SCI, together with the Société de Chimie Industrielle (France), the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK) and the European Federation of Chemical Engineering under a similar theme, "Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Solvent Extraction in Industry."
An important outcome of the second conference was the establishment of the International Committee for Solvent Extraction (ICSE) under Professor Carl Hanson as Secretary General. The main remit of this committee of international experts is the promotion of solvent extraction technology by various means, but most importantly to provide guidelines for future solvent extraction conferences throughout the world.
The ICSE agreed that the conference would be regarded as a major, worldwide solvent extraction event, to be held every three years. In order to allow sufficient time for proper coordination, a lead time of six years -i.e. two ISECs- was agreed for the appointment of each conference organiser. Bids from interested organisations are welcome by the ICSE and discussed during meetings held at each ISEC event. Decisions are based on the quality of proposals and the country of origin. It was convened that for the benefit of the international extraction community these meetings would be distributed around the world.