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8 July, 2020 - 22:40 By Tony Quested

Eric marks 100th birthday with online FuelTech lecture to Cranfield students

Fuel technology expert and former RAF World War II veteran Dr Eric Goodger, who once salvaged and repaired Spitfires, has found a novel way to mark his 100th birthday this week – delivering a lecture to Cranfield University students and invited guests tomorrow (July 9).

When he takes to the air this time it will be in a computer ‘cockpit’ as he delivers his talk via TEAMS. His alma mater Cranfield believe he could be the oldest person to conduct a lecture using the technology.

The coronavirus pandemic prevents Dr Goodger from delivering his talk in person – hence the virtual appearance to address Cranfield Propulsion Engineering Centre MScs, PhD students, colleagues and business guests. With a career spanning  around 80 years, he shouldn’t want for questions.

After completing a degree in aeronautical engineering, Dr Goodger served in the Royal Air Force in Europe. During World War II, as an Engineer Officer, he was involved with the repair and salvage of Spitfire aircraft throughout the UK and during the Overlord invasion of Europe, working from the Normandy beaches to well inside Germany. He says he cut his technological teeth on the Spitfire’s Merlin engine.

He undertook fuel research with British Petroleum at Sunbury in the UK, then spent some years as Foundation Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Newcastle, NSW in Australia and as Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, London.

For most of his career, he has been based at Cranfield University teaching and researching into conventional fuels, rocket reactants, spraying, spontaneous ignition, combustion and, latterly, alternative fuels. 

In 2019 he was presented with a Lifetime Contribution Award by the Energy Institute, a not-for-profit chartered professional membership body, bringing together expertise to tackle urgent global challenges.


A Mk VIII Spitfire. Photograph by Rasadhi Attale.

Dr Goodger said: “I am so grateful to Cranfield for enabling me to contribute to research and the teaching of my favourite subject for so many years.

“Like me, petroleum fuels are entering their home straight, and although they could last for another 50 years or so, they are already handing over the reins to hydrogen, with consequent improvements in the quality of the atmosphere. As I always say, there is no fuel like an old fuel!”

Dr Goodger remains a supporter of current research at Cranfield such as the ENABLEH2 project which includes research and innovation of technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce the impact of civil aviation on the environment.

The Cranfield faculty and students will hold a virtual celebration of his milestone birthday with Dr Goodger following the lecture. He is also planning to deliver another lecture the following day.

During his career Dr Goodger has published about 100 papers and 20 textbooks on thermodynamics, combustion, space propulsion and fuel technology. 

He continues to extend his interests in fuel technology, and prepares technical abstracts for the online Update Service on Transport Fuels operated by the Energy Institute, London.

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