University of Utah chemical engineering Emeritus Professor Noel de Nevers, celebrated author, air quality researcher and stalwart of the College of Engineering for more than 50 years, died Jan. 4 at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 86.

De Nevers, whose research focused on air pollution control and energy policy, began at the University of Utah in 1963 and was named Emeritus Professor in 2002. He was also associate dean of the U’s College of Engineering from 1969 to 1971.

“Noel made excellent contributions to the department, the university and the community at large,” said University of Utah Department of Chemical Engineering Chair Milind Deo. “He wrote a number of popular and intuitive chemical engineering textbooks and commentaries on topics related to energy, environment and society. He was a clear, analytical thinker and was able to examine and explain diverse engineering problems. We in the department are going to miss his observant wit and compassionate wisdom.”

De Nevers was born May 21, 1932 in San Francisco and graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1950. He received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1954 and a doctorate degree in 1958 from the University of Michigan, also in chemical engineering. He met his wife, Klancy Clark, at Stanford; they were married for 63 years.

He worked for the Chevron Research Company from 1958 to 1963, Phillips Petroleum Company in 1964 and the U.S. Army Harry Diamond Laboratories in Washington D.C. in 1968. While at the U, he worked one year for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Bureau of Stationary Sources Pollution Control in 1971.

During his tenure at the U, de Nevers served on nearly two dozen university committees, including as chair of the Campus Planning and Traffic Committee and the Academic Evaluation and Standards Committee. He was also director and chair of the Great Salt Lake Section of the AIChE, the organization for chemical engineering professionals.

De Nevers authored or contributed to more than 85 textbooks, articles and other publications on subjects including thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, petroleum and energy policy, and air pollution. His articles have appeared in a variety of journals including Scientific American and Chemical Engineering Science. He also published a book, The Kolob Tragedy: The Lost Tale of a Canyoneering Calamity, about a disastrous youth trip near Zion National Park in 1993. He also dabbled in poetry and won the title Poet Laureate of Jell-O Salad at the 1983 Last Annual Jell-O Salad Festival in Salt Lake City with three limericks and a quatrain.

He was honored with the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VIII Citizen Participation Award, College of Engineering Outstanding Service Award, and the U’s Presidential Teaching Scholar Award.

De Nevers was also an avid outdoorsman and environmental activist and has climbed atop the Grand Teton, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Whitney, Kilimanjaro, and Kala Patar, as well as rafted through most of the famous rivers in the Intermountain West. He traveled around the world with his wife, including countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and South America.

“Noel was a loving husband, father, and grandfather who led his family and friends on adventures all over the Intermountain West and the world,” said his daughter, Renee de Nevers. “Some of us remember wondering why we followed him off what seemed like cliffs on the ski hill, but it was almost always worth it. He loved his work, and loved sharing it with us.”

De Nevers is survived by his wife, children, and seven grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held later in the year. If you wish, send a contribution in his name to Planned Parenthood or the Union of Concerned Scientists.