International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

News release – 2010 Number 11

Highest distinction in electrotechnology:
Lord Kelvin Award

IEC honours outstanding individuals for their lifelong contributions to electrotechnology


Geneva, Switzerland, 2010-10-18 During the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) General Meeting that took place in Seattle, USA this past week, three outstanding individuals were honoured with the Lord Kelvin Award for their lifelong contribution to electrotechnology.


Lord Kelvin Award

Close to 10 000 experts work on the platform the IEC provides globally. That’s where they meet, discuss and agree on the rules, specifications, measurement and testing criteria that enable their industries to sell products anywhere in the world. The work of these experts also directly contributes to improve energy efficiency, product safety and reduce waste and the overall environmental impact. 


The Lord Kelvin Award is the IEC’s highest tribute and is only granted to a maximum of three outstanding individuals in any one year. The Award was first created in 1995 and named after the IEC’s distinguished first president, William Thompson, 1st Baron of Kelvin, on of the most brilliant minds of the 19th century. Kelvin was an incessant inventor and through his mathematical genius, significantly contributed to the advancement of modern physics and science, and the understanding and practical application of electrotechnology.


IEC experts who receive the Lord Kelvin Award, have the same drive to understand and improve the practical applications of the millions of electrical and electronic devices that are part of our lives.


This year the three laureates are:

  • Jerome E. Dennis, USA
    Dennis is an expert in the area of radiation safety and laser safety. He is active in the development of regulatory policies for radiation safety and is author and co-author of numerous papers. He recently retired after 33 years in the US FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) CDRH (Center for Devices and Radiological Health), where he was the agency’s international expert in laser and optical safety and safety standards. Dennis is Chairman of TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, since 1998.
  • Bernard Dumortier, France
    Dumortier has made substantial contributions to the IEC in the field of industrial automation. He was instrumental in achieving agreement on internationally relevant rules and specifications for Fieldbus, which is the world's leading digital protocol for process automation and crucially important for the automation industry. Dumortier has been active in the IEC for the last 25 years, serving since 2001 as Secretary of TC 65: Industrial-process measurement, control and automation.
  • Gösta Fredriksson, Sweden
    As chairman of the IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Testing and Certification for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components), Fredriksson has been instrumental in expanding the influence and importance of IECEE, the flagship IEC Conformity Assessment System. The system is remarkable in that it allows companies to have a product tested in one country and all members will accept the resulting test certificate and report without duplicating any of the completed tests. This not only saves industry a lot of money, but also helps them to significantly reduce time to market.  

Just like Kelvin in his day, experts working in the IEC are often world renowned in their area. They not only try to find safe and sometimes creative solutions to overcome challenges, but their work answers true global needs. They fulfil the role of technology enablers, sharing their knowledge so that others don’t have to repeat mistakes or reinvent the wheel.


The Lord Kelvin Award was presented by the IEC President, Jacques Régis during a special dinner held at the Boeing Space Museum in Seattle. In the presence of nearly 500 peers, the laureates received a solid gold metal, a gold lapel pin and a personal certificate signed by the IEC President and the General Secretary.

About the IEC

The IEC is the world's leading organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology". IEC International Standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology and marine energy to mention just a few. Wherever you find electricity and electronics, you find the IEC supporting safety and performance, the environment, electrical energy efficiency and renewable energies. The IEC also administers three global Conformity Assessment Systems, IECEE, IECEx and IECQ for testing certification and approval of equipment, systems and components to its International Standards.

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (1824-1907)

Laws of Thermodynamics, definition of Absolute Zero, Joule-Kelvin effect, Thomson effect

Thompson was one of the most brilliant minds of the 19th century. He was both a mathematical genius and a successful inventor. Thompson achieved important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and the formulation of the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics. He contributed substantially to unifying the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. Thomson’s mind was essentially metrical. He had to measure and weigh in order to calculate. The following quote is attributed to him: "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it."


Thompson was largely responsible for the international adoption of the system of units and the metric system. He patented numerous inventions related to telegraphy, compasses and navigation apparatus, dynamo machines and electric lamps, electric measuring instruments, the electrolytic production of alkali, and valves for fluids.


He also coined many terms which have come into general use, including "thermo-dynamics" and "kinetic energy".


He is most famous for:


The definition of the Absolute Zero, as part of his formulation of the Law of Thermodynamics. Absolute Zero is the point at which electrical resistance is exactly zero, where matter exhibits quantum effects such as superconductivity and superfluidity. By international agreement this point is defined as 0K on the Kelvin scale and as -273,15°C on the Celsius scale.


The Joule-Kelvin effect, which forms the basis for liquefying gases.


The Thomson effect which is both the basis for thermoelectric heat generation (Seebeck effect) and refrigeration (Peltier effect) as well as temperature measurements.


In 1906 he was elected First President of the International Electrotechnical Commission and was knighted by Queen Victoria for his work on the transatlantic telegraph project. Lord Kelvin is buried in Westminster Abbey in the grave next to Newton’s.