Professor Gérard de Soete, a former Director of the Combustion Physics and Chemistry Department at the Institut Français du Pétrole, passed away on 15 January 2019. A dedicated member of The Combustion Institute, de Soete’s work vastly advanced the study and research of combustion kinetics, combustion of solid fuels, combustion applications in piston engines and furnaces, and formation and reduction of pollutants.
Born in Bruges, Belgium in 1928, Prof de Soete earned his doctorat en sciences (Ph.D.) from the Université de Louvain in January 1962. He spent the bulk of his impressive career at the Institut Français du Pétrole, first as a Research Engineer, then as a Senior Researcher, and finally as the Director of the Combustion Physics and Chemistry Department. Prof. de Soete also taught at Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Pétrole et des Motuers (IFP School) and Universities of Paris 6 (Orléans, Rouen), and he presented at numerous seminars in Europe, United States, Africa and Asia. While his notoriety and expertise were concentrated in the fields of combustion science and technology, he was a respected researcher and speaker on the environmental impact of science and technology. One of his greatest accomplishments was bringing his passion for the study of insects to his pupils of Colombes schools; he was referred to as a ‘chemist with a passion for entomology.’
Throughout his career, Prof. de Soete was the recipient of many awards and distinctions. He served as the Deputy Superintendent and the Superintendent of FRIF. He presented at numerous scientific meetings and was an organizer or co-organizer of many, including the First International Specialists Meeting of the CI (Bordeaux), First and Second Topic Oriented Technical Meetings of the IFRF-TOTeM, and the 23rd International Symposium on Combustion. As a prolific author and educator, de Soete published over 30 papers and edited two textbooks.
Prof. de Soete had a great dedication to the French Section (GRF) of The Combustion Institute, serving as the first President of the section from 1984-1990. In 1988, the French Section of the CI introduced the Gérard de Soete Award as a tribute to his career and contributions. The Prize is awarded every two years and rewards a young researcher for his or her outstanding Thesis work, especially in connection with industrial issues or application aspects of combustion, with an emphasis on chemical, physical and/or environmental issues.
The Combustion Institute honors Gérard de Soete’s accomplishments and the work of scientific leaders who make significant contributions for the advancement of many diverse communities around the world.