Prof Cox's distinguished career in ion exchange

7 Dec 2011

The prestigious international medal, the Carl Hanson Award, is jointly awarded by SCI and DECHEMA every three years to an eminent scientist in the field of solvent extraction.

At the recent International Conference on Solvent Extraction (ISEC) held in September in Santiago, Chile, the medal was presented by Prof Geoffrey Stevens, Secretary-General of the International Committee for Solvent Extraction, to Prof Em Michael Cox, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK.

Prof Cox's interest in solvent extraction began in 1969 when he spent a sabbatical at the Department of Trade and Industry's Warren Spring Laboratory in Stevenage, where he collaborated with Dr Douglas Flett on the extraction of metals using commercial chelating reagents using the AKUFVE equipment developed by a previous medal winner, Jan Rydberg.

For nearly fifty years, Prof Cox has been instrumental in the development of new concepts and novel technologies in the areas of solvent extraction and ion exchange of metals, with a particular focus on their industrial applications and developments. The international impact of his work generated new research lines abroad, mostly initiated by the long list of European and other visitors that worked in his laboratories over the years. He also played a big role in the transfer of new technologies to countries developing their industrial and research base.

In 1973 the Russian Academy of Science awarded him the Kurnakov Memorial Medal for his work on solvent extraction of metals. Prof Cox has published widely as author, editor and as a contributor to books. In addition to his research, he made significant contributions to the worldwide promotion of solvent extraction through his long association with both the SCI Separation Science and Technology Group and as Secretary of the International Committee on Solvent Extraction (1993-2004).

In such capacities, he contributed to the organisation of many international meetings, including ISEC93 for which he was Secretary. For these activities, SCI awarded him the Lampitt Medal in 2003. A third area in which he has made an important contribution is on the organisation of graduate courses that integrated the academic background with the practical aspects of industrial processes. In recognition of his outstanding achievements over his long career at the University of Hertfordshire, he was granted the title of Professor Emeritus and, in 2008, he was awarded a Fellowship of the university.

Prof Cox has also been active in the field of ion exchange since 1977, especially in the use of this technology in the purification of potable water, and is currently the Chairman of the IEX2012 Organising Committee. This year, the journal Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange published a special issue: Recent Developments in Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange: A Tribute to the Career Contributions of Prof Michael Cox (below).

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