Barry J. Welch

For outstanding teaching and research, particularly in the smelting of aluminum, and for significant contributions to the advancement of the aluminum industry.

AIME James Douglas Gold Medal in 2014

After completing his Ph.D. in high temperature thermodynamics Barry Welch spent several years researching high-temperature extractive metallurgical processes including three years with Reynolds Metals Company before becoming an academic at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Aust. There he established a research group for electrochemical extractive metallurgy from ores and oxides dissolved in molten salts. This included theoretical derivation of the relationship of process parameters that has formed the basis of all cell control systems for all aluminium smelting. The research included alternative electrode materials and materials performance at high temperatures. 

In 1980 he accepted the Chairmanship of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland, NZ, (UoA) where his group’s research broadened to high temperature electrochemical cell design, transfer processes, dissolution kinetics and secondary processes, emissions and energy minimisation. Linking the research with operating processes enabled students to spend 30% of their time in the industry and perform measurements enabled bridging the gap between theory and practice. The group identified the intermediate product leading to the harmful PFC emissions - knowledge that enabled a smelting company to vary control and achieve world's best practice by lowering its PFC emissions to less than 10% of industry average. On becoming an Emeritus Professor in 1998 he assisted establishing the Light Metals Research Centre at UoA before returning to UNSW as a part-time visiting Prof to continue research while working with industry on performance optimisation and energy minimisation.