VALE Emeritus Professor David Wood AM
Published 12 November 2021
We were saddened to hear the passing of Professor David Wood last month. David was a valued member of the RACI and the Chemistry community. He was RACI President 2010 - 2012. As quoted in the Australian Times he is remembered as "A brilliant mind with a heart of gold".
David was a chemical engineer with both his first degree and his PhD from the University of London. Three years of chemistry was mandatory for the first degree and this enabled David to qualify for professional recognition by chemistry societies as well as engineering institutions. Most of David’s career had been in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Melbourne but he'd also had experience in the oil industry and the engineering consulting and contracting industry.
David was head of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University for 14 years and he then became Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. He was a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers
(IChemE) and of Engineers Australia as well as of the RACI and RSC. He was formerly Vice President of the UK based IChemE and he was an early editor of Chemical Engineering in Australia (print form). Whilst at the University, David led a research group investigating the production of TiO2 using fluoride technology. His research also included the treatment of spent potlining from the Aluminium industry. In his later years at the University he and his colleagues undertook a major project on the production of ultra clean coal using fluoride technology.
Since his retirement from the University of Melbourne he continued as an Emeritus Professor of the University and a Professorial Fellow.
David chaired many technical conferences during his career and in 2001 he chaired the very successful 6th World Congress of Chemical Engineering in Melbourne.
During his career David has been awarded the RACI Murphy medal, the Chemeca medal, the Esso award for education and the Arnold Green medal for his contribution to the profession of Chemical Engineering. In 2009 David was awarded the IChemE Council medal for his international work and in particular for his work in China.
After leaving the University of Melbourne, David was involved in consulting for a number of oil companies and the Federal Government with respect to jet fuel supply. He also worked with nine universities in China with the aim of assisting them obtain accreditation for their chemical engineering degrees. As a result of this work, Tianjin University received accreditation for its chemical engineering degree by the IChemE, the first to receive such accreditation in China. David was made an Honorary Professor of Tianjin University in late 2008.
David was an external research assessor for the University of Surrey and he undertook similar work for the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. In 2013, he was appointed to the chemical engineering advisory panel of the HKUST.
David was President of the RACI between 2010 - 2012 and was the diving force behind the 2017 RACI Centenary Festival.