I am sad to announce the sudden and unexpected death of Gennaro de Michele at the age of 65 following heart surgery some weeks ago. Many of you who have been active in the IFRF over the last decades will have had the privilege to meet and to interact with Gennaro. The importance of his contribution to the IFRF cannot be underestimated, coming to its peak at the time of the relocation from IJmuiden to Pisa in 2005/6 at which time he became the IFRF General Secretary. At his funeral on May 30th, family friends and colleagues were joined by the Mayor of Pisa, who spoke warmly and with admiration for Gennaro – the “Ingegnere” who loved Pisa. Below, we publish our own IFRF tribute from former IFRF Director Peter Roberts.
In my experience at the IFRF, among our Member Organisations, there was always a group which could be described as “hands-on” Members. The research laboratories of ENEL in Pisa were such a Member. Their staff was actively encouraged to co-operate with the IFRF in order benefit more directly from the work of the IFRF. This of course worked both ways and the IFRF benefitted through a better understanding of the combustion problems facing the power generation industry in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly relating to the firing of coal augmented by biofuels.
Gennaro de Michele joined the research staff of ENEL in 1976 and was appointed to Head of the Research Division in 1999 before becoming Executive Vice President of ENEL Produzione in 2001 and thus played a strong role in promoting the cooperation with the IFRF, particularly in the area of dissemination of research information. This was a reflection on his academic background as a graduate and later Associate Professor at Naples Federico II University.
A major result of such a co-operation was the development of the EuroFlam scheme in the late 1980s, a cooperation between the IFRF, ENEL Pisa and Cardiff University. With funding from the European Commission the scheme allowed European graduate scientists and engineers to travel to one of the three laboratories to work on their research teams for periods typically up to six months. Annual meetings were held in turn at Pisa, Cardiff and IJmuiden where the EuroFlam Visiting Investigators presented their results to their peers and the staff of the hosting laboratories. This scheme was very successful and continued for well over a decade providing a substantial pool of scientists and engineers trained in combustion research.
Thus Gennaro played a strong role in the development of the IFRF during my time at IJmuiden and indeed at the end of my IFRF career in the transfer of the IFRF from IJmuiden to Livorno, when Neil Fricker (my successor as Director of the IFRF), and I had had great need for his co-operation, as did our successors in Livorno, Leo Tognotti and Tomasz Klajny.
Gennaro de Michele fostered a very strong relationship between Pisa and IJmuiden. He always listened carefully and gave helpful advice and where appropriate gave active help. Above all he was always extremely gracious in his relations with us. It was men of his calibre who made the IFRF.