In Memory and Honor of PCI's Co-Founder and Chief Scientist

William C. Pfefferle


William C. Pfefferle (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

William Charles Pfefferle, Jr, PhD, 87, loving husband, father, scientist and inventor, and Precision Combustion Chief Scientist and co-founder, died peacefully December 28th following a fall at home.  He was a good man, a good husband, and worked his entire life to make the world a better place.  A Quaker and pacifist, he sought scientific solutions to societal problems ranging from energy efficiency to pollution to oil and gas production.  The son of a grocery store owner and a burler, he grew up in the Depression, working in the store and selling root beer at industrial sites.  In WWII as a twenty year-old 3rd asst engineer in the merchant marine he saved his ship by improvising a repair to a failed engine, escaping a Nazi sub.  Earning a Drexel Chemical Engineering degree and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, he married Eleanor in 1949, and they had four children with five grandchildren. 

Bill loved his work and was a brilliant scientific problem-solver and inventor, with over 100 issued U.S. patents, including seven in 2009 and 2010.  He worked for 22 years for Engelhard Industries, rising to Refinery Section Chief and then Research Associate.  At 63, he co-founded Precision Combustion, where he continued to work full time until his death developing novel reactor systems for clean energy.  His inventions included the ultra-low NOx catalytic combustor, Magnaforming for high octane gasoline, the ultra-compact short contact time Microlith catalytic reactor for fuel and chemical processing and combustion, a novel reactor for alkylation, and inventions directed to improved oil and gas production.  In 1990 he was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame and in 2003 he received the ACS Industrial Innovation Award.  

He enjoyed concerts, music, reading and his hybrid car.   He was passionate about his work and committed to his wife. His tenaciousness, creativity, and insight into complex problems have been inspirational to his co-workers.  He will be dearly missed by his wife Eleanor of 61 years and his family, friends and colleagues.


Bill and Eleanor gave to many charities. If you wish to give in his honor, three of these supported are emblematic of their choices

  • LEAP – a small New Haven "academic and social enrichment program for children and youth, ages 5 to 23. Our mission is to develop the strengths and talents of young leaders who create and implement year-round, community-based programs designed to achieve positive academic and social outcomes for children living in high poverty urban neighborhoods. LEAP is an AmeriCorps Program”.
  • New Haven Symphony Orchestra
  • American Friends Service Committee