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The Institute of Research on Combustion was settled in Naples in 1968 after the vision of Leopoldo Massimilla, who founded and directed the Institute till his departure in 1993. Dr. Ing. Federico Beretta, prof. Gennaro Russo, prof. Piero Salatino and dr.Anna Ciajolo take over the direction of the Institute in following years. The current director is dr. ing. Riccardo Chirone.

The foundation of the Institute of Research on Combustion took place in a season of cultural ferment, under the presidency of Vincenzo Caglioti of the National Council of Research. The Institute of Research on Combustion took after the Center for Studies of High Temperature and High Pressure Chemical Systems, already active in the sixties and dislocated in four towns: Bari, Napoli, Padova and Roma. The motivations for the foundation of the new Neapolitan Institute are summarized in the proposal submitted by Massimilla in 1968 in a document entitled: “Proposta di costituzione di un Laboratorio di Ricerche su Chimica delle Fiamme e della Combustione nell’Area di Ricerca del CNR a Napoli”:


“The development of processes in chemical industry, siderurgy and metallurgy as well as other collateral industrial activities, such as ceramic and glass industry, is by several means constrained by the progress of research in the chemistry of high temperature and high pressure systems and of systems with high potential energy, close to flammability of explosion limits. The current trend of chemical industry is to move from the multi stage processes typical of traditional organic and inorganic industrial chemistry towards processes of direct synthesis at severe, though controlled, conditions of temperature and pressure: use of pure oxygen enriched air in old and new processes, partial oxidation and pressurized combustion of hydrocarbons, production and transformation of hydroperoxides, flame synthesis of non conventional oxidizers and fuels or pollutants, plasma synthesis of special products and refractory materials have disclosed new chapters in industrial chemistry, whose investigation is a key factor for a multiplicity of chemical engineering processes, as has been clearly shown, and sometimes with deem concern, by the course of recent enterprises of our chemical industry. In Italy such research topics have been barely addressed, despite their great interest and the urgency perceived also by designers and conductors of industrial plants. Combustion issues are superficially addressed in some courses of secondary instruction and research has not yet attracted the attention of Universities, also because of the high costs of diagnostic equipments and the inherent danger of experiments, especially when they are carried out in narrow spaces that have not been created on purpose. The extent of economic investment required, the variety of applications for all chemical technologies, also in relation to urgent security issues, and finally the high impact on society, make these research topics among the most urgent that CNR, and in particular the Committee for Chemical Sciences, should promote in Italy, by means of a dedicated laboratory”.


The activities of the Institute of Research on Combustion, initially limited to studies in the dynamics of multiphase and granular systems and to plasma-chemical processes, were soon broadened to include optical diagnostics, mechanisms of formation of condensed matter in flames, dynamics of reacting systems, low temperature oxidation of hydrocarbons, catalytic and flame oxidation, aerodynamics and radiative heat exchange in combustion chambers. By the end of the 70s new impulses to the activities of the Institute came from the need to diversify the energetic sources: this motivated research lines in combustion and gasification of solid fuels (coal in primis), particularly but not limitedly to flluidized bed technologies. Other research lines addressed safety issues in chemical plants and processes, storage of combustibles or explosive substances, control of the environmental impact, non stationary combustion in engines. Most recent activities addressed by the Institute are new technologies for renewable energy and clean combustion processes of fossil fuels for CO2 capture and sequestration.

The Institute of Research on Combustion benefitted ever since its birth from the contribution of experts of high International reputation, who provided scientific guidance and critical revision of the directions taken by the Institute activities. The scientific committee of the Institute included International scientists such as prof. Alfred Gaydon of Imperial College of London, prof. John Beér fromMIT, prof. Klaus Hein of Studgard University. Professors Adel Sarofim from MIT and Roland Clift from Surrey University spent a sabbatical at the Institute of Research on Combustion. Other contributors to the development of the Institute are Umberto Colombo, Ezio Colombo, Ettore Molinari, Livio Antonelli, Pierluigi Rebora, Aurelio Reiter, Gennaro De Michele.

Decree IRC 1968

Decree IRC 2001

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