Monday, 15 January 2018

Joseph Kitchener's scientific legacy to be honoured by a keynote lecture at Flotation '19

Dr. Joseph Kitchener was one of the 20th Century's foremost flotation and colloid scientists. Throughout his impeccable career at Imperial College, London, he influenced, guided and educated many international scientists and engineers as well as inspiring his colleagues.
Joe Kitchener with his daughter Janet
Dr. Kitchener was born in 1916 in Grimsby, on the east coast of England. At the conclusion of his secondary education, he won an open scholarship to University College London, where he obtained a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry in 1936. He completed a PhD in mid-1938, dealing with the photosensitization of solids, just three years and nine months after leaving secondary school.
At UCL, the Head of the Department of Chemistry was F.G. Donnan. N.K. Adam was a member of staff while Herbert Freundlich was an Honorary Research Associate. The intellectual milieu was rich and stimulating for the young scientist to thrive in. Following his doctoral studies, Joe was appointed to the staff of the Chemistry Department at Imperial College and by 1956 was Reader in Physical Chemistry. He was awarded a D.Sc in 1958 for his eminent contributions to the scientific literature, especially in ion exchange equilibria and kinetics. In 1961 the Department of Mining and Mineral Technology, led by Professor M.G. Fleming, lured Joe away from Chemistry and conferred upon him the unique title of Reader in the Science of Mineral Processing.
Joe possessed a strong desire to understand the fundamentals of complex industrial systems, especially within the area of colloid science and its applications to mineral processing. His work in colloid science covered areas such as the dewatering of fine particle dispersions; wetting films; rheological phenomena; the selective adsorption of additives such as collectors and flocculants onto mineral surfaces; electrochemistry of metal sulphides; and of course froth flotation.
Joe made pioneering studies into the analysis of surface forces which control the colloid stability of mineral dispersions. This led directly to the first correct measurements of long range van der Waals forces between macroscopic bodies. These investigations were performed in parallel with those of Boris Derjaguin and his group in Moscow. He also was very interested in thin liquid film and foam behaviour, integrating surface forces and film thickness measurements, along with structural effects. There was excellent cooperation with Alexei Scheludko and his research team in Sofia.
Joe completed forty years on the staff of Imperial College in 1978 at which point the College bestowed the coveted title of Senior Research Fellow upon him. He enjoyed this role until 1985, when he finally left Imperial College. He died peacefully in his home in Tewin Wood on March 9th 2009 at the age of 93.
John Ralston
If he were alive today Joe Kitchener would undoubtedly have been the subject of an MEI interview in the series In Conversation With. One man who was one of the early interviewees, and who worked under Dr. Kitchener for a research fellowship at Imperial College, is Prof. John Ralston, the first Director of Australia's Ian Wark Research Institute at the University of South Australia (posting of 27 May 2014).
We are honoured that John has agreed to present a keynote at Flotation '19, 10 years after Joe's death, which will trace the scientific legacy of a hugely gifted man and show how it underpins a significant amount of modern research in mineral flotation and colloid science.
John Ralston is a physical and colloid chemist with complementary training in metallurgy, whose research interests embrace various aspects of interfacial science and engineering.  Until his retirement from The Wark in 2012, John’s research dealt with three main themes - how bubbles contact particles; why things stick together and how liquids spread over surfaces. The problems addressed cross the boundaries from pure physical chemistry to materials science to chemical and minerals engineering, with many connections with, and knowledge transfer to, national and international industry.
John has received numerous awards and honours over the years. These include the Chemeca Medal in 2006, Australia's highest honour in Chemical Engineering, the ATSE Clunies Ross Lifetime Contribution Award in 2009 and the Staudinger Durrer Lecture and Medal in 2012 from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, for influential contributions to the fields of colloid and surface science. In 2008 John was made an Officer of the Order of Australia and in 2007 was awarded South Australian of the Year, the first scientist to be so honoured, as well as South Australian Scientist of the Year.
Apart from mentoring research teams at UniSA, a number of his present activities, as a "roving ambassador" for the University of South Australia, include strong interactions with universities, companies and  research institutes internationally. In the 10th Anniversary year of Joe Kitchener's death, John's keynote will be a very appropriate introduction to the Fundamentals Symposium at Flotation '19.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the details, Barry. Your media's contribution(which you recently raised) is to let us all feel proud of the work being done by such greats and also to inspire the youngsters.


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