Lan Lam was born in South Vietnam. After graduating from high school, he went to Japan in 1972 as an overseas student.
He obtained his Bachelor of Engineering (1977) and Master of Engineering (1979) degrees at Yokohama National University, and his Doctor of Engineering degree (1982) at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. He subsequently worked at Toshin Industrial Co, Ltd, an electroplating company for switches and connectors, as a Chief of Research and Development Laboratory until August 1987. He was responsible for research and development of plating machines, plating solution, gold recovery, pollution treatment, quality control and staff training.
Dr Lam joined CSIRO in 1988 and by 2009 was a Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Energy Storage Theme of the CSIRO Division of Energy Technology. Since 1988, he has been the research leader of many projects (some simultaneously) that have been well sponsored by either domestic or international companies or research organisations.
His research has been concerned with the advancement of lead-acid batteries and has involved the following:
- technology for improved battery manufacture (GNB Australia)
- tin-dioxide coated glass-flakes/spheres for enhanced battery performance (Monsanto Chemical Co, USA and Owens Coming Fiberglas Corporation, USA)
- minor elements in lead for batteries (Pasminco Ltd)
- orifice pasting of battery plates (Wirtz Manufacturing Co, Inc, USA)
- fast-charging techniques for electric-vehicle batteries (Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC), USA)
- elucidation of early failure of original equipment automotive batteries (Holden Ltd)
- determination of maximum acceptable levels for impurities in lead used in the production of valve-regulated lead-acid batteries on stand-by duty (ALABC, USA)
- novel technique (Novel PulseTM device) to ensure battery reliability in 42-V powernets for new-generation automobiles (ALABC, USA)
- development of UltraBattery®, an integrated supercapacitor/lead-acid hybrid energy-storage device, for hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and renewable applications (CET)
- production and test of UltraBattery® in the Honda Insight HEV (ALABC, USA).
Dr Lam’s research has resulted in a sustained record of major contributions to both the lead and the battery industries that have resulted in the commercialisation of new products and processes. Notable examples are as follows:
- Design of novel plate-processing technology of Exide PowerLift® batteries (GNB Australia).
- Development of advanced (bismuth-containing) leady oxide for valve-regulated batteries. This material is now being marketed as VRLA Refined® lead by Pasminco Ltd, now known as Zinifex. Through Dr Lam’s work, it is now generally agreed internationally that bismuth is a beneficial additive.
- Development of two specifications for lead used in batteries. These specifications are now widely accepted by lead and battery industries. CSIRO and the ALABC have been granted a patent for these research works.
- Development of mechanism explaining the premature failure of lead-acid battery under HEV duty and discovery of the battery-life enhancing benefits of fast charging and Novel Pulse® device for electric vehicle (EV) and HEV applications. CSIRO and the ALABC have been granted two full patents for these research works.
- Development of UltraBattery®. This hybrid battery has been considered as a step-change technology by the Science Review Panels and covered by three patents. The technology has been licensed to Furukawa Battery Co, Ltd, Japan and East Penn Manufacturing Co, Inc, USA and is also under licensing negotiation with companies in Europe, China, India, South Africa and Australia. The UltraBattery® will be started to produce in early 2010. In addition, a spin-off company, called Ecoult, has been established for marketing the UltraBattery® and battery management system for renewable-energy applications.
For over twenty years, Dr Lam has been a key scientific adviser to eight Asian countries (China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand). Through his knowledge and teaching/linguistic skills (fluent in five Asian languages), he has enabled CSIRO to forge strong links with the Asian Battery Industry.
Since joining CSIRO, he has published 30 papers, 7 patents and 83 industrial reports, has been a keynote speaker at several international conferences and workshops and has served on the expert panels of both the Asian and the European Battery Conferences.
Honours and awards
For his outstanding contributions to his field he has received the following awards:
|2009||Technical Development Award of The Electrochemical Society of Japan|
|2008||CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement (UltraBattery® project)|
|2005||International Lead Medal|
|2000||CSIRO Chairman’s Medal (Low emission Vehicle team)|
- Lam LT, 2009, Personal communication.