Energy expert, passionate educator Philip Lloyd passes

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Energy Institute researcher, South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) Fellow, energy expert and passionate educator Professor Philip Lloyd, who passed away in late August, spoke about the role of science and how one needs to learn the language of science: mathematics.

Lloyd was born in Sheffield, England, in 1936. He moved to the Peak District as the war picked up where he roamed the hills and woods and played in the streams of Derbyshire. In 1946, his family moved to South Africa and he attended Western Province Preparatory School where he earned his nickname of Taffy, his nephew Nigel Gwynne-Evans said in tribute. A schoolfriend and Cape naturalist Ivor Jardine described his accent when he first arrived as so thick no one could understand a word he said.

Lloyd was a graduate of the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he also obtained his Master’s and Doctoral Degrees before spending four years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology undertaking advanced studies in nuclear engineering.

“He clearly mastered the language of science – mathematics – and has been described by some as a mathematical genius, which clearly gave him a tremendously strong foundation for his future career at UCT where he received a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering developing a uranium extraction process, which I believe is still in use today,” Gwynne-Evans said.

After a stint at the Atomic Energy Board of South Africa, Lloyd was Director of Metallurgy of the Chamber of Mines Research Organisation (COMRO) from 1966 to 1983. He returned to academia from 1994 to 1999 as a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand and then for 10 years as a Research Fellow at the Energy Research Centre of the UCT.

From 2009 until his death, he served as a Research Professor at the Energy Institute of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Lloyd also wrote columns for Engineering News, often highlighting significant technical engineering challenges, including those posed by renewable energy systems.

“Philip not only contributed to the nation as an eminent engineer, but also through many social upliftment projects, including Protec, a mathematics and science education programmes for underprivileged children,” said UCT Dean of Engineering Professor Cyril O’Conner.

Internationally, Lloyd was actively engaged with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and, in recent years, at the invitation of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, of which the SAAE is a member, he played a leading role on numerous international initiatives relating to energy. He was generally sceptical of the evidence that man is responsible for inducing climate change and that current global warming is little different from long term trends as evidenced in the “warm period” of the middle-ages.

He was awarded one of the Jaycees most outstanding South Africans award in 1976. In 2012, Lloyd received the Conrad Geber Award as African Intellectual of the Year and, in 2016, the prestigious and rarely awarded Honorary Fellowship of SAAE was bestowed on him in recognition of his significant, long-term contributions to the Academy and to the engineering profession in South Africa.

“SAAE has lost a respected Fellow who took great delight in sharing with others his insights and experiences in the world of science and technology, and in offering his opinions. Philip will be missed, not only in South African engineering circles, but internationally where he had established a reputation as a global leader in the field of energy,” said O’Conner.