24 Aug 2011
The SCI Electrochemical Technology Group presented the Castner Medal on 4 August 2011 to Professor Emeritus Maria Skyllas-Kazacos, from the School of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Australia.
Professor Skyllas-Kazacos is known worldwide as the researcher and pioneer credited with the invention of the vanadium redox battery (the 'VRB'). Her pioneering work saw her rolling up her sleeves to personally take charge of tasks such as producing electrolytes, novel plastic electrodes, and new modified membranes, as well as developing mathematical models and designs for battery technology and components, through to prototype testing and manufacturing trials in conjunction with industrial licences.
The VRB is now regarded as one of the most feasible technologies currently available to meet the growing need for efficient renewable energy storage to help in the global reduction of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. From early on in her research career, she had a particular concern with the environment: 'I really wanted to do something that I could see as important for the environment and for society. As a physical scientist, I suppose the most important social contribution you can make is to the environment - particularly from my own area of expertise as distinct from the medical or other social areas.'
Her work to date has led to the authoring and filing of 250 publications and patents. Her first award came at the end of her postdoc with Bell Labs, when she was presented with the Bloom-Gutmann Prize for the best young author under 30. Her work has since earned her numerous honours, including the Order of Australia. Her Castner Medal lecture and video address were presented during Electrochem 2011, in Bath, on 5-6 September 2011.
The Castner Medal
The Castner Medal and lecture are given biennially to recognise the achievements of an authority on applied electrochemistry in a subject connected with chemical research. The prize is named after Hamilton Castner, a pioneer in the field of industrial electrochemistry (more information). He found a process for caustic soda manufacture, resulting in the mercury cell for the electrolysis of brine (patented in 1892) .