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Cairns recognized as Fellow of International Society of Electrochemistry

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Elton Cairns
Berkeley Emeritus Professor and Professor of the Graduate School Elton Cairns.

July 19, 2010

Berkeley emeritus professor and Professor of the Graduate School Elton Cairns has been recognized as a Fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry.

Cairns was inducted for his work covering a wide range of electrochemical energy conversion technologies, including the first fuel cells in space during the Gemini Program, direct hydrocarbon fuel cells, a wide variety of new battery chemistries including lithium-sulfur cells, and electrocatalysts for direct methanol fuel cells.

Cairns was born in Chicago, IL, and completed high school there. He obtained his B.S. degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering at the Michigan Technological University. He earned his Berkeley Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1959.

He joined the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York, where he worked on the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. These PEM fuel cells were used in the Gemini spacecraft. In 1966, he joined Argonne National Laboratory, where he was responsible for battery R&D. In 1973, he became assistant head of the electrochemistry department at the General Motors Research Laboratories, where he was responsible for all of the battery and fuel cell R&D.

In 1978 Cairns joined the UC Berkeley faculty and was appointed associate laboratory director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the head of the Energy and Environment Division, positions he held until 1996. He initiated and headed the DOE battery and fuel cell programs there.

Cairns has served as President (1989-90) and Vice President (1986-89) of the Electrochemical Society, divisional editor of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society (1976-87), and as an editor of Electrochimica Acta (1988 – 2004).

The work of Cairns is documented in a book, over 230 journal articles, and 15 patents. His work has been recognized by various honors and awards, including the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction, Michigan Technical University; the Craig D. Hollowell Memorial Lecturer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; a Department of Energy R&D 100 Award (1992); election as Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists; election as Fellow of the Electrochemical Society; and the Francis Mills Turner Award, Electrochemical Society.

More Information

Elton Cairns Faculty Profile

Cairns Research Group