David Rand presented with prestigious lead award at 20ABC

David Rand presented with prestigious lead award at 20ABC

David Rand presented with prestigious lead award at 20ABC 904 1024 Batteries International

September 7, 2023: David Rand, who has spent a lifetime in batteries and energy storage, was awarded the International Lead Award at a special ceremony on the first day of the 20th Asian Battery Conference held at Siem Reap in Cambodia.

David, 80, has been at the heart of the energy storage world for the past 50 years. His academic achievements — he is the co-inventor of the UltraBattery and one of the electrochemists that solved the early 1990s puzzle of PC — have been matched by a lively presence in the life of the industry.

David was head of the battery research group at CSIRO in Australia and during his time there made it a policy that all avenues of research were valid if battery performance could be enhanced as a result of this. The group expanded its activities to alternative battery chemistries and supercapacitors, together with their integration into hybrid energy storage-delivery systems for stationary, mobile and portable applications.

David became a household name in the lead battery industry as being part of a select group charged with solving the seemingly intractable problem facing manufacturers and users alike of VRLA batteries.

The shorthand for the problem was PCL — premature capacity loss. PCL drastically shortens the life of lead batteries under deep cycling. It was particularly prevalent in batteries with positive plates that were either antimony free and had low-calcium alloys to reduce water loss. Moreover, it was independent of plate design or how the paste was applied.

The problem occurred with flooded batteries and the then new wave of VRLA batteries which had taken the telecoms world by storm in the early 1980s.

David took the chair of the World Study Group into Premature Capacity Loss of Lead Acid Batteries in 1993. This was formalized in an ALABC programme when David took over as temporary head of the consortium in 1994.

David has been a key figure in the technical assessment of papers presented at the major lead battery conferences run in Asia and Europe. He continues to vet presentations to  the ABC — he was there at the first conference in Bangkok in 1987 — as well as its later European counterpart the ELBC.

David retired from full-time work at CSIRO in December 2008 but remains as an Honorary Research Fellow.

David has also been one of the key figures of the World Solar Challenge — one of the more unusual ways of testing battery development — where a solar-powered vehicle has to cross 3,000km from the north of Australia to the south and use battery storage as an essential part of the journey.

In 1987, David formulated the battery regulations for the challenge — strictly speaking it shouldn’t be called a race as it’s a testing ground for EV cars — and continues to promote and participate.

David’s research has been recognized both nationally and internationally.

1991: The Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK)

1996: The UNESCO Gaston Planté Medal

2000: The CSIRO Chairman’s Medal

2003 The Australian Centenary Medal

2006 The R.H. Stokes Medal of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

2008: The International Energy Agency Hydrogen Implementing Agreement Angel Award

2008: The CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement

2013: Member of the Order of Australia

2023: The International Lead Medal

In 1998, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and in 2000, the University of Cambridge awarded him a Doctor of Science (ScD).

Perhaps one of the nicest tributes to David came many years ago at the Faraday Medal award ceremony.

Speaker at the award, Brian McNicol said, that: “Quite apart from his scientific findings that have had such influence, David has over the years been a persuasive advocate of the role of alternative power sources in society. In many respects he has been an inspiration to us all, never fearing to be controversial when the need rose.

“His energetic participation in, and the leadership of, scientific meetings has been greatly appreciated by the electrochemical community.”

Photo: David Rand, center, with 20ABC conference chair Mark Stevenson and the executive director of the India Lead Zinc Development Association L Pugazhenthy