30 September 2015
World's most influential alumina refining scientist
As a teenager he tinkered with chemistry sets and made his own electronic gadgets. Now some 40 years on, Dr Ian Harrison, Director Research and Development at Alcoa’s Global Refining Technology Delivery Group (TDG), is arguably one of the world’s most influential alumina refining scientists.
Awarded the prestigious RK Medal by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute for his enormous contribution to process chemistry and chemical engineering, Dr Harrison accepted his award at a gala dinner held on 30 September in Melbourne during the 16th Asian Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineering Congress.
Dr Harrison says he is both humbled and delighted to accept the award. “I would like to recognise the many contributions from the enormously talented people I’ve worked with over the years – teamwork is a critical element to success,” said Dr Harrison, who credits his people skills to student vacation jobs as a rouseabout, wool presser and deckhand.
Eugenio Azevedo, Alcoa Vice President Refining Technology and Manufacturing, said Ian is an outstanding leader who has made an impressive contribution to Alcoa over the past 23 years.
“Through extensive collaboration and the application of research and technological innovation over the past decade, Ian and his team have worked closely with our refinery operations and process design and development teams at Alcoa’s Refining Centre of Excellence to help generate a 17 per cent increase in Alcoa’s global refining system’s productivity and a ten per cent reduction in energy use,” said Mr Azevedo.
“This is a multi-million dollar contribution to efficiency and environmental sustainability for our company, and strongly supports our goal of coming down the cost curve of production to be an even more globally competitive commodities business.”
Dr Harrison leads the western world’s largest research facility specializing in the Bayer process for alumina production. His work at Alcoa’s TDG translates strong scientific research and technology innovation into commercial outcomes that deliver process and environmental improvements.
Dr Harrison is passionate about encouraging young people into science related careers.
“Scientific innovation is critical to our future and I encourage young Australians to consider careers in science and technology related areas. There’s great diversity in science and you can put your talents and passion to many good uses.”
In partnership with Alcoa’s refining operations, TDG has supported Alcoa’s refineries, including three in Western Australia, to achieve world leadership in Bayer process technology. This has included the development of the most sophisticated process models, new on-line sensors developed by the group and the integration of complex chemistry into on-line control processes. In addition, TDG is the global leader in bauxite residue R&D and is strongly focused on the production of new value added products from residue.
TDG employs 80 staff, with core competencies in chemistry, engineering, maths, sensor design and construction, maintenance, and best practice transfer dedicated to technology development for Alcoa’s global system. TDG is the largest employer of PhD’s outside of CSIRO and the Universities.
Dr Harrison stressed the need for industrial scientists to collaborate strongly with the world’s leading scientists in universities and government organisations like the CSIRO. Alcoa has had many relationships with leading universities around the world and with a number of CSIRO divisions. Our longest collaboration has been over 24 years with RMIT Industrial Chemistry Group.
Dr Harrison has held senior research and development roles at Kodak and CSIRO. He has contributed articles and reports to scientific publications and industry, and supported industry research and collaboration, new talent, and university science and engineering students.
The RK Medal takes its name from Robert Kenneth Murphy (1887-1972), an American chemical engineer who is recognised for establishing professional training in industrial chemistry and chemical engineering in Australia. He was a founder, President and Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
Media contact: Corinne Hawke, 0407 195 102
A global leader in lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing, Alcoa innovates multi-material solutions that advance our world. Our technologies enhance transportation, from automotive and commercial transport to air and space travel, and improve industrial and consumer electronics products. We enable smart buildings, sustainable food and beverage packaging, high-performance defense vehicles across air, land and sea, deeper oil and gas drilling and more efficient power generation. We pioneered the aluminum industry over 125 years ago, and today, our approximately 59,000 people in 30 countries deliver value-add products made of titanium, nickel and aluminum, and produce best-in-class bauxite, alumina and primary aluminum products.
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