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Dr Leon Prentice

Research Scientist


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Dr Leon Prentice is the Research Director for Metal Industries, one of four Research Programs in CSIRO Manufacturing. He is a Chartered Professional Engineer (FIChemE FIEAust CEng NER CPEng RPEQ IntPE(Aus)) specialising in the development and scale-up of novel technologies, particularly for extractive metallurgy, metal processing, energy, and materials. The Metal Industries Research Program undertakes projects that advance the science and develop technologies in advanced metal manufacturing.

Particular industry sectors on which the Program works include a) Aerospace, Space, and Defence Metals; b) Resource and Mining Metals; c) Energy Metals; and d) Medical Device Metals. Additionally, the Program is focused on building the 'whole of value chain' industries in Australia in e) Titanium and f) Lithium.

Leon Prentice joined CSIRO Process Science and Engineering (then 'Minerals') in mid-2007, following several years of materials and process development for an Australian biomaterials manufacturer. Leon's work had resulted in five new dental restorative materials on the international market and the creation of a new R&D team. He also completed his doctorate full time, in 2005, while working full time. His undergraduate studies included Chemical Engineering, with honours, and Physics at Melbourne University. During his undergraduate studies he deferred for a year and worked in hydrometallurgical R&D in the USA and Canada.

He became a Chartered Chemical Engineer in 2005 and an IChemE Fellow in 2013. He has also studied history, and holds a graduate diploma in theology. In 2010 he completed (while working full time) a professional masters (MSc in Process Technology and Management), with distinction, from the University of Strathclyde.

Leon led the Light Metals Flagship carbothermal magnesium project ('MagSonic') from 2008 to 2014. MagSonic technology is likely to be competitive with low-cost international production while realising 50-80% reductions in energy intensity and environmental impact. His leadership of the project has resulted in technical success, a compelling environmental and technical rationale, and plans for a pilot plant. The project was awarded the IChemE Sustainable Technology Award 2011 for Innovation and Excellence in Chemical Engineering. In 2013 Leon received the TMS Vittorio de Nora Prize for Environmental Improvements in Metallurgical Industries, the ANZFChE Uhde Shedden Medal and Prize, and the Victorian Professional Engineer of the Year award.

Aside from magnesium, Leon has also been involved in carbon nanotube production, dry slag granulation, safety assessments, life cycle assessments, project feasibility, and industrial process consulting for major industries and SMEs. He led a major project for the direct production of Titanium Alloys, one of CSIRO's major projects being commercialised with international partners. His interests include spending time with his wife and primary-aged daughters, talking about God, table tennis, cycling, and coffee. Leon is part of his local School Council and is Immediate Past Chair of Engineers Australia's Chemical College Board.

Current Roles

  • Research Program Director
    Research Management of the Metal Industries Research Program in CSIRO Manufacturing

Academic Qualifications

  • 2016

    Certificate in Executive Management and Development
    Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW), Sydney

  • 2011

    Master of Science (Process Technology & Management, Distinction)
    Strathclyde University, Glasgow

  • 2006

    Doctor of Philosophy (Biomaterials)
    University of Melbourne

  • 2000

    Bachelor of Engineering (Chem, Hons)
    University of Melbourne

  • 2000

    Bachelor of Science
    University of Melbourne

Professional Experiences

  • Sept 14-Apr 17

    Research Group Leader
    CSIRO Manufacturing

  • Jul 13-Sept 14

    Research Team Leader
    CSIRO Process Science and Engineering (CPSE)

  • Jul 07-Sept 14

    Senior Research Engineer
    CSIRO Process Science and Engineering (CPSE)

  • Sept 11-June 12

    Stream Leader
    CSIRO Minerals Down Under (MDU) Flagship

  • Apr 01-Jul 07

    Senior Product Development Engineer
    SDI Ltd

  • Jun 99-Nov 99

    Engineering Assistant
    COMINCO Engineering Services Ltd (CESL, Canada)

  • Jan 99-May 99

    Research Assistant
    BHP Minerals (USA)

Achievements and Awards

  • -13

    Engineers Australia Victorian Professional Engineer of the Year

  • -13

    ANZFChE Uhde Shedden Medal and Prize

  • -13

    TMS2013 Vittorio de Nora Prize for Environmental Improvements in Metallurgical Industries

  • -13

    TMS Young Leader Award

  • -11

    IChemE Excellence and Innovation Award 2011 - Sustainable Technology Award, for MagSonic(tm)

  • -05

    IADR Joan Chong Award for Australasian Excellence in Dental Materials Research

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • Jan 2011-now

    JVCEC (Joint Victorian Chemical Engineering Committee)

  • March 2002-now

    TMS (The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society)

  • '11-'11

    Technical Committee and Session Chair, Chemeca2011

  • '01-now

    FIChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers)

  • '08-now

    CEng (Chartered Engineer, UK/Int'l)

  • '12-now

    FIEAust (Engineers Australia)

  • '12-now

    CPEng (Chartered Engineer, Australia)

  • '12-now

    NPER (National Professional Engineers' Register)

  • '12-now

    RPEQ (Registered Professional Engineer Queensland)

  • '12-now

    Victorian Representative, Chemical College Board (Engineers Australia)

  • '13-'14

    Victorian Representative, IChemE in Australia Board