Obituary: Professor Hans List

Professor Dr Dr h.c.mult. Hans List, founder of the Austrian automotive engineering company AVL, was 100 when he died on Tuesday, and came into work until the day before he died. The lifelong energy and ability of this remarkable engineer is underlined by his elaborate title. The appellation "Dr Dr h.c.mult." shortens the Latin honoris causa multitudo - roughly "many honorary doctorates" - the first for his original Doctorate of Technical Science at Graz, the second for four other university honours.

These awards exclude a string of national and international honours reflecting a wide-ranging academic career which occupied most of the first half of his working life. Then, when 50 years old, List started a private engineering consultancy which four years later in 1952 became the company "Anstalt fur Verbrennungskraftmaschinen, Prof Hans List": List Internal Combustion Engine Institute - AVL GmbH, as it is known internationally.

Born in 1896 in Graz, Hans List was the son of a railway design engineer. Study at the Technical University of his home town was interrupted by the First World War, resuming on the return of the young officer when he gained his Engineering Diploma in 1920. A job as designer in a railway company did not stop him working in his spare time - without telling anyone - for his PhD on the control of diesel engines; the first his parents knew of the young List's achievement when he was called to the rostrum to receive his doctorate at the award ceremony.

In 1926, he took up the post of professor and head of the Department of Thermodynamics at the state university of Tongji, Woosung, in China. In spite of modest equipment and the distractions of the Sino-Japanese War, List was responsible for extensive basic research work, especially on the scavenging (clean exhausting) of two-stroke engines.

Nineteen thirty-two saw him back in Graz, succeeding Professor Magg as head of Thermodynamics and Internal Combustion Engines. Here, whilst continuing engine research, he began his internationally renowned reference book The Internal Combustion Engine (1935). As well as editing the work of contributors, four volumes of this valued tome were written by List himself.

In 1941 List moved to Dresden University as successor to the diesel-engine researcher Dr Naegel. The end of the Second World War brought an invitation to take a professorship at Aachen Technical University, but List chose to return to Graz to concentrate on writing and publishing further editions of his book. So it was that at 50, when lesser people may be considering steadying and consolidating, List branched out into his second life, as the leading consultant in diesel-engine combustion.

The company which sprang from List's first office grew steadily, today employing 1,300 engineers in Graz, and more in offices abroad. He was particularly interested in two-stroke diesels, although none became truly commercially successful. List's - and AVL's - really successful work was in the development of the direct injection diesel, particularly in overcoming the tremendous challenge of making small - car- size - direct injection diesel engines.

Where Sir Harry Ricardo in Britain developed indirect injection - still the most popular form of car-size diesel - List and AVL ended up doing a comparable job for the more fuel- efficient small direct injection diesel, which is now steadily supplanting indirect injection in cars.

The line-up of companies who AVL have helped design and develop their direct injection (d.i.) diesels includes Ford (with one of the first d.i. diesels for the Transit van), Land Rover, and Rover with their superb L-series d.i. diesel; while other leaders in the field such as the Audi- Volkswagen Group use what are effectively clones of AVL combustion chambers.

Hans List, automotive engineer: born Graz, Austria 30 April 1896; twice married; died Graz 10 September 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future