Scott L. Wellington, a research professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering (ChBE) at Rice University, a longtime researcher in the oil and gas industry, and holder of more than 240 patents, died Sept. 17 at age 72.
Wellington retired from Royal Dutch Shell as managing scientist, and global technology consultant for exploration and production, in 2010. In that position, Wellington headed a department of scientists and engineers focused on production of heavy viscous crude oils using in situ viscosity reduction. He joined the Rice faculty in 2013.
“I met Scott when we both worked for Shell. He was always enthusiastic about some new research result, and had an ability to explain complex systems in a simple way. His technical achievements were highly recognized at Shell. Since coming to Rice, Scott put together teams of faculty to attack challenging research topics with potentially big benefits for the energy industry and Rice,” said Walter G. Chapman, the William W. Akers Professor of ChBE and associate dean for energy in the George R. Brown School of Engineering
Wellington earned a B.A. from Hiram College in 1966, an M.S. from John Carroll University in 1968 and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1972, all in chemical engineering. He was a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineering and the American Chemical Society.
“Scott wrote a paper on ethoxylated sulfonate surfactants. About ten years ago, we had a paper with the Shell folks on the same class of surfactants. Recently, I asked some Exxon people how they chemically stabilize polymers. They said they use the Wellington package. Scott’s contributions to the industry were enormous,” said George Hirasaki, the A. J. Hartsook Professor Emeritus of ChBE, who worked as an engineer for Shell Development and Shell Oil Companies for 26 years.
Wellington served as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Energy on President Bush’s Commission on the formulation of U.S., CO2, Energy and Environment Policy.
He consulted with Citizens for Affordable Energy to formulate a practical U.S. energy policy for transitioning from fossil fuels to affordable and sustainable energy.
In 2013, Wellington headed an enhanced oil recovery project that partnered Rice with Houston-based Blackhorse Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The aim was to apply the latest technologies for carbon dioxide (CO2) injection to boost production from aging oil fields while permanently storing the CO2.
“Scott impressed me with his far-reaching analysis and his remarkable ability to detect patterns in multi-variable complex problems and make insightful connections. His knowledge was broad and deep, covering a wide spectrum of challenging engineering problems. Working with Scott was pure joy, a constant intellectual stimulation. Over the past five years, he became a good friend, trusted adviser and invaluable colleague,” said Kyriacos Zygourakis, the A. J. Hartsook Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Funeral arrangements for Wellington are handled by the Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home.