Research on reducing pollution in aluminium smelting wins award

10 November 2015
Professor Margaret Hyland

Pioneering research to reduce pollution from the production of aluminium has earned Professor Margaret Hyland of the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering this year’s Pickering Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

She is the first woman to receive the award.

Professor Hyland and her research team developed new technologies that are now used by the aluminium industry around the world to cost-effectively reduce gaseous and particulate emissions from aluminium smelting including fluorides. 

These emissions are harmful to human health and the environment, with fluoride emissions in particular a focus for engineers because of its effects on human health and the environment.

Professor Hyland’s work on capture of fluorides contributed to new understanding of the sources and mechanisms of gaseous and particulate emissions from aluminium smelters and led to technologies to help better control fluorides.

She is a passionate advocate for the University of Auckland’s Light Metals Research Centre which she helped found.

Professor Hyland’s work in Chemical and Materials Engineering has been recognised with numerous international awards including the Metals and Materials Society Awards in which she has featured five times.

She was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers (UK) in 2008 and in 2015 became the first woman to chair the International Metals, Minerals and Materials Society Aluminium Committee. She is also the first woman to edit the proceedings of the Light Metals conference.

Professor Hyland said she was thrilled to have received the Pickering Medal.

“It feels very special, particularly as I am the first woman to get this award and because it has been given for work which I feel very passionately about. Reducing fluoride emissions is a critical target to prevent damage both to the environment and to people’s health,” she said.

“While the emissions reduction technology we developed is now used worldwide, it began here in New Zealand and I feel very proud of that.”


For more information contact:

Anne Beston, Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland
Email:, Tel: +64 9 923 3258, Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089