Duane Nichols, a 1959 graduate of West Virginia University, was recently inducted into its Academy of Chemical Engineers. The ceremony was held on April 25, in Morgantown.
Nichols, who completed both his master’s and doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, was a member of the faculty of Delaware State University, where he served as the first head of the Department of Physics, as well as director of the Nuclear Radiation Laboratory.
In 1968, Nichols came back to WVU as an assistant professor of chemical engineering under the National Science Foundation’s Heat and Mass Transfer Enrichment Grant, teaching courses in unit operations, heat and mass transfer, catalysis, applied differential equations and optimization theory. Later, as an associate professor of chemical engineering, he served as coordinator of the NSF program on “The Siting of Coal Conversion Complexes in Appalachia.”
Nichols went on to become head of the fossil energy section at the Research Triangle Institute in Durham, N.C. in 1977. The research program, supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, was directed at the environmental assessment of coal gasification for synthetic natural gas production. In 1980 he moved to Library, Pa., first as senior process engineer with the Conoco Coal Development Corporation, which became CONSOL Research and Development, where he was group leader for special projects.
Nichols, who retired in 2000, has served as president of the Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association. Projects conducted under his leadership have included the establishment of a swimming beach and improvement of trails and boating on Cheat Lake as well as the conservation of native habitat areas in the Cheat River Canyon. He has also been active as the co-chairman of the Upper Monongahela Area Watersheds Compact and a board member of the Mon-Valley Clean Air Coalition.