Antal Jr., Michael J. (10/21/15)

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Michael J. Antal, Jr, a leading person in biomass research, died on 21 October 2015. He received his MS degree in Applied Physics (Quantum Mechanics and Electromagnetic Theory) from Harvard University, followed by the PhD degree in Applied Mathematics (Numerical Analysis and Quantum Mechanics), also from Harvard University. In 1973, he started his professional career at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a staff member of the Thermonuclear Weapons Physics Group. However, his research interests soon turned to topics related to the sustainable future of mankind. In 1976, he published his first pioneering work on the peaceful use of solar energy in the production of fuels from biomass and municipal wastes. After serving as an assistant professor at Princeton University, he was selected as the recipient of the Coral Industries Endowed Chair at the University of Hawaii in 1982, where he became a full professor and the Coral Industries Distinguished Professor of Renewable Energy Resources. He achieved outstanding results in practically all areas of biomass research and development, including the pyrolysis of biomass materials, and the formation of charcoals through pyrolytic reactions. Presently the Scopus database reports more than 10 600 citations for 175 articles published with his authorship. The corresponding h-index is 54. A selection of his widely cited works can be found in the Selected Publications.

During the planning period of PYRO2016, Michael suggested a special soirée linking art, science and history together. However, he was already seriously ill when he received a request for an invited keynote lecture entitled “The art, archaeology, and history of wood pyrolysis” at PYRO2016. That was when he answered: “I have looked forward to your meeting more than any other in my life.” But he hoped to prepare his lecture. Sadly, Michael passed away before he could finish it. His death changed the course of the special soiree that was planned to take place in the Museum of Fine Arts. Now the focus is on a commemoration of Michael. The first lecture will deal with the connections between pyrolysis and art by Ilaria Bonaduce, according to the original plans. Then two presentations will follow about the results that Michael achieved with his co-workers in two fruitful and long-lasting international collaborations which lasted until the end of his life.