Kroll Medal & Prize (not available in 2024)
The Kroll Medal & Prize is presented for significant contribution that has enhanced the scientific understanding of materials chemistry as applied to the industrial production of materials, normally inorganic.
The winner will receive a medal and £300.00
2022 Dr Julian Jones CEng FIMMM, 2021 Prof Osman M Bakr FIMMM, 2020 K L Choy, 2019 D Gregory, 2018 J Driscoll, 2017 S Skinner, 2016 Not awarded, 2015 S Fries, 2014 V Kumar, 2013 K Hing, 2012 J Coleman, 2011 S Best, 2010 Prof Karen Scrivener, 2009 Prof Mohan Edirisinghe, 2008 Prof Ivan Parkin, 2007 Prof P O’Brien, 2006 J Evans, 2005 Dr M P Ryan, 2004 Prof J Williamson, 2003 Prof J H Sharp, 2002 A Hendry, 2001 Prof F P Glasser, 2000 Prof A Atkinson, 1999 Prof H F W Taylor, 1998 Prof F R Sale, 1997 Prof A Atkinson, 1996 Prof K C Mills, 1995 Prof B C H Steele, 1994 Prof D Inman, 1993 Prof N A Warner, 1992 R J Hawkins, 1991 R N Parkins, 1990 B B Argent, 1989 J A Charles, 1987 D J Fray
Dr William Justin Kroll was born in 1889, in Luxembourg, the son of a blast furnace manager. He studied at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, in Germany and obtained his doctorate for work on the production of pure boron.
After a period in the metallurgical industry in Austria and Hungary, he returned to Luxembourg in 1922 to establish his own research laboratory. Here he worked, with four assistants, on metallurgical problems chiefly concerned with the metals titanium, zirconium, calcium and beryllium. It was here he invented his titanium extraction process.
Early in 1940 he heard the 'sound of marching feet' on the other side of Moselle and decided to leave Luxembourg and go to America. Here he acted as consultant to Union Carbide's research laboratory at Niagara Falls until 1945 when he left to join the Bureau of Mines laboratory at Albany in Oregon. He remained at the Bureau until 1951, devoting most of his time to the development of his zirconium extraction process.
Titanium and zirconium, the 'Wonder Metals' of their day, proved to be of great interest to the US Government. The US services realised, rather belatedly (Kroll had tried unsuccessfully for several years to 'sell' titanium and his process), that titanium, because of its low density and high strength, has a great potential in the development of military aircraft and they spent large sums of money to accelerate development. In the case of zirconium, the preliminary work had hardly been completed when the US Atomic Energy Commission became deeply involved. After leaving the Bureau, Kroll remained in Oregon at the home he had built in Corvallis, near Albany, working as a consultant. He had become a naturalised American and was very happy in his new home. In 1961 he decided, reluctantly, to return to Europe, to live near his brother.
Kroll's brilliance as a research metallurgist was recognised by many American and European learned societies and universities by awards of medals and honorary doctorates, including the Institute of Metals Platinum Medal in 1969.
He was not only a brilliant thinker, he was also very practical and wanted to be actively involved in the development of his 'brain-children'. This was demonstrated in the case of zirconium when he was involved right from the original idea to the operation of a large pilot plant.
Kroll believed in the individualistic approach to research as opposed to group research. He contended that the keen-eyed, intelligent researcher with simple equipment saw more than the group working with complex equipment. He once said:
'Men are born unequal in mind and body. The inventor or scientist wants self-expression and the affirmation of his personality. To try to domesticate, collectivise and depersonalise him in a team is therefore, psychologically speaking a fatal mistake.'
Despite these views he worked with his team in the laboratory in Albany, Oregon, where he was well liked and respected.
Metals and Materials June 1973 p.263