John Botterill, 1929–2021

Article by Joe Biddlestone FIChemE and Jonathan Seville FIChemE

K Thayanithy

JOHN BOTTERILL, a pioneer of heat transfer research, died in Birmingham, UK, on 9 February at the age of 91.

John was chiefly renowned for his pioneering research into heat transfer in fluidisation, with his work during the early days of the technology central to many chemical and thermal conversion processes. His book Fluid Bed Heat Transfer, published in 1975, became the leading reference in the field worldwide.

A Birmingham man by birth, John was educated at King Edward’s School, Edgbaston. He “crossed” Edgbaston Park Road into the University of Birmingham to become an undergraduate in the Department of Physics and as a graduate he “crossed” the campus to join chemical engineering in the 1950s, where he remained as a staff member until his retirement in the late 1990s.

Despite this limited geographical trajectory, John was well-known internationally, particularly in North America and the USSR, where similar research was taking place. An early responsibility in his career was to be the interface between the then Head of Department, Professor FH Garner, the architect, and the University Estates Office in the development of the new chemical engineering building which opened formally at the University of Birmingham in 1957. It was one of the first university buildings in the UK dedicated to the chemical engineering discipline.

John's calm diplomatic personality was an essential requirement for that role. He will be remembered by colleagues and the many students he taught, not only as a scholar, but also for his caring and supportive presence.

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