1907 – 2003

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. USA
National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan


Prof. Fritz V. Lenel was born in Germany on 7 July 1907 (7/7/7). He studied chemistry at Breslau and Munich Universities and in 1931 obtained his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Heidelberg, followed by postdoctoral studies at the University of Gottingen with Teller and Heisenberg. He immigrated to the USA to avoid the Nazi concentration camps. 

Lenel spoke several languages. His first position in the USA was at Charles Hardy in New Your dealing with iron powder metallurgy. In 1937 he became powder metallurgist at the Moraine Division, Delco (Delphi), in Dayton, Ohio. There he worked on applying iron powder metallurgy to automotive components, leading to several patents. In 1947, he joined Matthew Hunter to work on spark sintering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. Hunter had developed a process for making sponge titanium powder, so Lenel applied spark sintering to that powder titanium. At RPI he rose in the academic ranks and served as Department Chairman from 1962 to 1969. He retired in 1973 and took on several other positions. He was the leading academic in powder metallurgy, producing 50 graduates that became industry and academic leaders. He also consulted with many of the early adopter firms such as DuPont’s Remington Arms division. Lenel was involved in the evolution of sintering theory. His group conducted critical experiments to show dislocation flow in the sintering neck. Besides developing ferrous powder metallurgy for automotive applications, he also outlined the theory of liquid phase sintering, and detailed spark sintering. In 1984 he was designated a Pioneer of Powder Metallurgy by the Metal Powder Industries Federation, one of several awards to his credit. He died in the summer of 2003 in Troy, New York.

Taken from “Sintering Science: An Historical Perspective" by R. German