Creativity in Industry Prize 2013 Winner
Infineum UK Ltd
For his skill in applying fundamental polymer science to industrially relevant systems, and transforming the results into profitable products.
About the Winner
Ken Lewtas is Chief Scientist and Strategic Research manager at Infineum (JV between ExxonMobil and Shell). His interests are wide-ranging and include computation chemistry, phase changes in general and crystallization in particular, polymer science, the physics of polymer processing and chemical and mechanical engineering.
Ken's PhD was in pharmaceutical research studying the chemistry and mechanisms of anti-depressant drugs. New conformations and interactions were identified and new structures proposed which, when synthesized, were active pychotropic molecules.
He then joined Esso Chemical and researched and developed new fuel additives, mainly to make sure diesel fuels do not "freeze" even in the harshest winter conditions. At that time, the developments were expanded to cover many products, from crude oil to the very first bio-fuels. Many new additives were invented and commercialized and are still in use world-wide today.
An assignment in the USA as Exxon/ExxonMobil Technology scientist and manager included, for example, the modification of tribology, crystallization and rheology. Management and scientific positions in Belgium included European Technology Manager in polymer chemistry and applications, analytical/characterization and polymer science. Research included adhesion science, polymer physics, processing and properties. This time also included new business developments which were very successful in the introduction of new products and applications and they are still growing today.
More recent responsibilities in Infineum have included creativity/innovation work linking many companies, new business development (two new potential businesses created) and recently the formation of Strategic Research to look into building the science and capabilities for the future.
Ken is a visiting professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick. He is also a visiting scientist at the Diamond Light Source and member of the Industrial Science Committee. He is on multiple university steering committees and supervises many academic projects.