Arfvedson Schlenk Award Lithium Chemistry


Since 1999, every second year during GDCh Chemistry Forum, the "Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker" (GDCh) hands over the Arfvedson-Schlenk-Award donated by Albemarle (formerly Rockwood Lithium GmbH).

About the Arfvedson-Schlenk-Award

Johann August Arfvedson was the chemist who discovered the element lithium while Wilhelm Schlenk is known as a pioneer in organolithium chemistry.

The Arfvedson-Schlenk-Award intends to honor outstanding scientific and technical achievements in the field of lithium chemistry.

The Winners of the Arfvedson-Schlenk-Award

1999 Paul von Ragué Schleyer
2001 Gernot Boche
2003 Victor Snieckus
2005 Dietmar Stalke
2007 Hans Reich
2009 Carsten Strohmann
2011 Peter Bruce
2013 Robert E. Mulvey
2015 Clare Grey

Awards Ceremony 2015

Scientific Lithium award ceremony in Dresden, Germany

From left to right: Prof Dietmar Stalke, (Advisory Committee), Prof Clare Grey, Raphael Crawford (ALB), Beate Koehler (GDCh), Dr Ulrich Wietelmann (ALB, Advisory Committee)

The Awards Ceremony for the Arfvedson-Schlenk Award took place in Dresden, Germany during the GDCh-Wissenschaftsforum Chemie 2015 (Convention of the Society of German Chemists) on August 31.

Since 1999, every second year, the Arfvedson-Schlenk-Award donated by our company intends to honor outstanding scientific and technical achievements in the field of lithium chemistry. Johann August Arfvedson was the chemist who discovered the element lithium while Wilhelm Schlenk is known as a pioneer in organolithium chemistry.

 This year the Advisory Committee has resolved upon awarding the Arfvedson Schlenk Award to Professor Clare Grey from Cambridge University, England for outstanding achievements in providing a greatly enhanced understanding of the processes that occur during lithium ion battery charges and discharges by applying innovative applications of solid-state Nuclear Resonance such as her pioneering work of in-situ lithium NMR studies.

The event started with opening remarks of Raphael Crawford followed by a laudation from Professor Peter Bruce, a former award winner. After receiving the award Professor Clare Grey gave a speech explaining her recent research work. The event concluded with a formal dinner in honor of the awardee.

About Clare Grey

Clare Grey is Professor at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, UK and Associate Director of the Northeastern Chemical Energy Storage Center at Stony Brook University, New York, USA.

She is specialized in applications of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and in particular using this spectroscopic technique to study materials of relevance to energy and the environment. Her recent investigations were focused on the field of lithium ion batteries (LiB’s), where she uses in-situ 6Li/7Li solid state NMR spectroscopy to investigate the mechanisms of lithium insertion and extraction during battery charge/discharge. She studies the effects of local structure and electronic properties on LiB performance and she identifies nano-sized or amorphous phases which are formed on lithium incorporation.

These investigations are especially useful for the development of novel high-capacity conversion-type electrode materials, which may help to realize next generation of high energy lithium batteries required for electric power train technologies, e.g. for long-range e-mobility.

The Lithium History

The discovery of lithium by the Swedish scientist Johan August Arfvedson in 1817 filled another gap in the periodic table of elements.

Milestones and Unique Properties

Lithium’s unique properties make it and its compounds attractive and versatile reagents in a broad spectrum of industrial applications. Milestones in lithium’s history were the first preparations of the metal by Bunsen and Mathiessen in 1854 and those of the lithium organic compounds by Wilhelm Schlenk in 1917.

Otto Schott suggested the use of lithium compounds in the production of specialty glass as early as 1879, and C. M. Hall investigated their effects in aluminum electrolysis in 1886. Lithium derivatives were considered rather exotic for quite a long time, however, and were hardly used commercially until the 20th century.

Industrial Use

Lithium’s path into industrial use began with the first commercial production of lithium carbonate, lithium chloride and lithium metal by a German company, Metallgesellschaft/Chemetall now Albemarle, in 1923. At that time the metal was used as an additive for a new antifriction alloy, “Bahnmetall” (railway metal) in the axle boxes of rail wagons. But the real commercial breakthrough for industrial lithium was made in the early 1950s.

Application Areas

Reliable sources of supply and new technological developments resulted in lower prices and larger and more diversified demand. Lithium carbonate came to be used widely in the aluminum, glass, enamel and ceramic industries. Lithium hydroxide became increasingly important in the production of high-performance lubricating greases.

In the form of various salts, lithium carbonate for example is a highly effective medicine for the treatment of bipolar disorders (manic depression).

Lithium batteries have generated a lot of positive publicity over the past two decades because of their great efficiency. Lithium bromide has been used for many years in industrial absorption refrigerators. The most important application of butyllithium is as a polymerization initiator for the production of thermoplastic elastomers. Its applications in industrial pharmaceutical chemistry have developed most significantly.

Lithium specialties are versatile tools in synthetic organic chemistry. Lithium chemistry, characterized by flexibility and progress, is applied in many and diverse sectors of industry.


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