Open main menu

Octave Levenspiel (January 1, 1926 – March 5, 2017) was a professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University (OSU). His principal interest was chemical reaction engineering, and he was the author of a major textbook Chemical Reaction Engineering as well as numerous research publications.[1]


Levenspiel was born in Shanghai, China, in 1926, the son of Abe and Lily Levenspiel, who were Polish Jews who had gone to China to escape oppression in Europe.[2] At the age of 15, he was on a ship to the USA when the Attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, so he was interned in Manila until the end of the war.[2] In the USA, he graduated with a bachelor's degree from Berkeley in 1947. He obtained his PhD from OSU in 1952, and after a period teaching at other schools returned to OSU where he spent the remainder of his career, retiring in 1991 but continuing as Emeritus Professor.[2]

In 1952 he married Mary Jo Smiley and they had three children. He died on March 5, 2017.[2]


The Levenspiel plot is named for him.

Levenspiel was well known among his students for his ability to do quick back-of-the-envelope calculations. GNU Octave, a high-level language primarily intended for numerical computations and developed by John W. Eaton, a former student of Octave Levenspiel, is named after him.


All of Levenspiel's books listed below have been translated to several other languages.

  • Chemical Reaction Engineering, Wiley; 3 Sub edition (August 13, 1998), ISBN 0-471-25424-X
  • The Chemical Reactor Omnibook, Oregon St Univ Bookstores (January 1993), ISBN 0-88246-160-5
  • Fluidization Engineering (coauthored), Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd; (October 1991), ISBN 0-409-90233-0
  • Engineering Flow and Heat Exchange, Plenum Pub Corp (Dez. 1984), ISBN 0-306-41599-2
  • Understanding Engineering Thermo, Prentice Hall PTR; (September 4, 1996), ISBN 0-13-531203-5
  • Rambling through Science and Technology, Lulu, 2007


  • R.H. Wilhelm award (AIChE)
  • W.K. Lewis award (AIChE)
  • Founders award with gold medal (AIChE)
  • ChE Lectureship award (ASEE)
  • P.V. Danckwerts award (IChemE)
  • Honorary doctorates from France, Serbia, and the Colorado School of Mines
  • Elected into the National Academy of Engineering (2000)
  • Amundson award (ISCRE/NASCRE) (2001)


  1. ^ "Octave Levenspiel". Corvalis Gazette Times. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Robin Turner The Chemical Engineer April 2017 p 57 "Obituary: Octave Levenspiel (1926–2017)"