Original Press Release
Ralph H. Nielsen Receives ASTM International H.R. "Russ" Ogden Award for Contributions to the Reactive and Refractory Metals Industry
Press release date: August 9, 2011
W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., - ASTM International Committee B10 on Reactive and Refractory Metals and Alloys has presented the 2011 H.R. "Russ" Ogden Award to Ralph H. Nielsen, a primary expert in the chemistry of zirconium extraction and purification. The Ogden Award is an annual award honoring outstanding accomplishments in the science and technology of reactive and refractory metals and alloys.
A graduate of Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, Nielsen began his career at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, where he worked with Dr. W.J. Kroll on the original reactive metal reduction processes, and developed a process to produce zirconium oxide using sulfate precipitation versus the previous ammonium phthalate precipitation. The new process was more efficient and significantly cheaper and produced a pure oxide for the subsequent Kroll reduction process. This oxide was chlorinated for subsequent use in the Kroll reduction vessels.
During his career, Nielsen's work has included studies of hafnium, a sister element of zirconium that occurs together in nature and must be separated for use in the nuclear industry. He developed a process to extract Cb (Nb) and Ta from pyrocblore ores, for which he was assigned a patent in 1980.
Nielsen has authored several articles on zirconium and hafnium that cover a wide range of topics, such as occurrence and mining; chemical, physical and corrosion properties, along with the processing of the zircon ore to finished mill products; specifications and standards; analytical methods; health and safety and uses for both inorganic and organic zirconium compounds; and sources and production rates of producers worldwide. Some of his publications include William J. Kroll, A Luxembourg Scientist (Dr. Kroll's activities in the United States); zirconium and hafnium chapters in the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, Editions 3 and 4; Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 5th edition; and The Metallurgy of Hafnium, AEC Handbook 1960 - Separation of Zirconium and Hafnium.
A Licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Oregon, Nielsen has been affiliated with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Metals), the Electrochemical Society and Sigma Xi. He also served as a board member on the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying from 1985-1993.
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