June 17, 2021: Herbert Giess, the Italian battery veteran of some 30 years’ experience, was awarded the Gaston Planté Medal at the LABAT annual conference on June 9.
The 15-member Gaston Planté Committee holds a ballot to decide the winner of the award each time a conference is held (typically every three years), and this year Giess became the 18th winner. He was awarded in a virtual ceremony at the conference
“Herbert Giess has worked for more than 50 years for various research centres and companies in Italy, France, Switzerland, China, etc, and has made numerous contributions to the battery industry,” said LABAT.
Giess also won the International Lead Award in 2017 at the 17ABC in Kuala Lumpur for his outstanding contributions to the lead industry.
Born in 1945 in Süd Tirol, a small German-speaking village in Italy, Giess showed an early interest in chemistry. He said his first taste for electrochemistry came with his work for the European Atomic Energy Commission (Euratom) in Italy and then the Netherlands.
At the age of 24 he landed a job at the Battelle Memorial Institute Research Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, where he met his wife Marie-Hélène.
He began working with lead-acid batteries, and hasn’t stopped since — while also investigating other battery chemistries such as nickel-zinc, lithium-sulfur and zinc-bromine.
After a stint in the US, Giess moved back to Switzerland to work for Accumulatoren-Fabrik Oerlikon, one of the oldest lead battery manufacturers in the world.
He was instrumental in developing VRLA/AGM batteries and getting them into multiple applications, from 48V radio base stations to 480V 2MW data centre back-ups and 1500V UPS systems in chip plants in Taiwan.
This led to battery standardization work, culminating in his position as chairman of IEC TC21 Secondary Cells and Batteries, and then a move to China in 1995, where industry was taking off and where he was soon appointed chief scientist at Narada, the Chinese battery manufacturer.
Giess continues to work as an independent consultant to the battery industry.