Tribute: Professor Paul E. Queneau
Professor Paul E. Queneau, a pioneer in smelting with oxygen pyrometallurgy who co-invented the Queneau-Schuhmann-Lurgi (QSL) process for efficiently extracting lead, died March 31, 2012, at the age of 101.
Entering Columbia University at 16, he earned his B.A. in 1931, B.Sc. in 1932, and Engineer of Mines degree in 1933. He worked at International Nickel (INCO) for 35 years, beginning as a “hot metal man” in a nickel alloy plant. In 1937 he was transferred to the Copper Cliff research laboratory to work on improving efficiency and reducing environmental degradation, and in 1941 he became superintendent of research.
After Pearl Harbor, Queneau volunteered for military service and was deployed to Europe with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Battling from Normandy to the Rhine, he was awarded the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, ETO Ribbon with five battle stars, and the rank of lieutenant colonel. Having seen the mass destruction of war, Queneau returned to INCO determined to improve the environmental record of smelters. By the time he retired from INCO in 1969 as vice president, chief technical officer, and assistant to the chairman, he had advanced cleaner methods of extracting copper, nickel, and iron.
Queneau earned his doctorate at age 60 from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and joined the Thayer School faculty in 1971. In 1974 he and Reinhardt Schuhmann Jr. developed the Q-S Oxygen Process for smelting in a single process within a continuous oxygen converter. Working with the German company Lurgi, they demonstrated that the QSL process would be feasible on an industrial scale. Berzelius Metall in Stolberg, Germany converted to using the QSL process in 1990; the plant is still operating. The QSL process is also employed in two smelters in Korea. (See “Inventions” in the Winter 2010 issue of Dartmouth Engineer.)
Awarded 36 U.S. patents, Queneau was a fellow and past president of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society and past chairman of the Engineering Foundation. His many honors included the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers’ James Douglas Gold Medal, the Gold Medal of the British Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, Chemical Engineering’s Kirkpatrick Award, and Thayer School’s Robert Fletcher Award for distinguished achievement and service. In collaboration with INCO, he endowed Thayer School’s Paul E. and Joan H. Queneau Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Engineering Design.