Professor Dudley Brian Spalding, the former head of the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Unit at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, passed away on 27 November 2016. A longtime member of The Combustion Institute, Spalding’s work in fluid flow, combustion, and heat and mass transfer deeply influenced the research of CI’s international society of combustion scientists and practitioners.
In 1954, Prof. Spalding joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College as a Reader in Heat Transfer. He was promoted to Professor of Heat Transfer in 1958 and subsequently also became head of the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Unit. He held both positions until his retirement in 1988. In 1982, Spalding was honored with the Bernard Lewis Gold Medal during the 19th International Symposium on Combustion at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel. He received the medal “for brilliant research in the field of combustion, particularly on the creation of theoretical models.”
Prof. Spalding made many wide-ranging and groundbreaking contributions to combustion science and engineering. His early research in the 1950s led to a model for evaporating and burning liquid fuel droplets that is still used today. Colleagues consider his greatest contributions to be in the field of research now termed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). In the 1960’s, Spalding was amongst the first scientists to realize the developing power of the digital computer could be used to devise discrete methods for solving the partial differential conservation equations describing fluid motion, combustion and heat and mass transfer.
In 1974, Prof. Spalding founded Concentration Heat and Momentum Limited (CHAM), “a world leading consultancy and software house specialising in computer simulation of fluid-flow and heat-transfer processes.” That company’s clients continue to use Spalding’s pioneering software to obtain computer simulations of fluid flow.
A prolific author and educator, Prof. Spalding contributed his knowledge and experiences to many scientific papers, textbooks, and inspirational MSc courses. His work attracted students from around the world, many of whom went on to pursue doctoral studies in combustion science and other related fields.
The Combustion Institute honors Prof. Spalding’s accomplishments and the work of scientific leaders who make significant contributions for the advancement of many diverse communities around the world.