LLNL’s Bill Pitz earns Department of Energy lifetime distinguished achievement award

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) engineer Bill Pitz has earned a lifetime distinguished achievement award from the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office (DOE VTO) for his significant contributions to the field of chemical kinetics.

Pitz, along with retiree Charles Westbrook, produced a chemical kinetic study of fuel additives for engine knock in spark ignition engines, a feat that earned them the 1991 Horning Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Their area of research is the development of chemical kinetic mechanisms for conventional fuels like gasoline and diesel fuel, and also for next-generation fuels, such as new types of biofuels being considered as potential replacements for fossil fuels.

The chemical kinetic mechanism is used in computer codes to simulate combustion in internal combustion engines used in cars and trucks. These engine simulation codes can be used to optimize engine design to increase efficiency and reduce pollutant emissions. Pitz said what interests him the most is enabling the simulation of advanced combustion engines being considered for future vehicles, because these engines offer gains in efficiency and emission reductions.

“There are many researchers and leaders in the DOE VTO program who are deserving of a lifetime achievement award,” Pitz said. “I feel honored to be selected.”

Pitz's research focuses on development of chemical kinetic mechanisms for hydrocarbon fuels and bio-derived fuels and applying these mechanisms to problems such as combustion in advanced spark-ignition and compression-ignition engines.

He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from Purdue University and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where he did his thesis work in the combustion area.

After accepting a postdoc position at LLNL working for Westbrook in the area of developing chemical kinetic models for hydrocarbon fuels, he has continued his career at Livermore in the same field.

Earlier this year, Pitz was named a SAE fellow, for making a significant impact on society’s mobility technology through leadership, research and innovation. He is among other SAE fellows recognized for outstanding engineering and scientific accomplishments that have resulted in meaningful advances in automotive, aerospace and commercial vehicle technology.

The DOE VTO also selected the Co-Optima Project for a team award in recognition of significant contributions to the development of the science base for fuel and engine technologies. LLNL team members include Pitz, Matt McNenly, Scott Wagnon, Goutham Kukkadapu, Chiara Saggese, Nick Killingsworth, Russell Whitesides, Simon Lapointe and Dan Flowers.