Tribute to Detchko Pavlov
Detchko Pavlov 1930-2017
DETCHKO PAVLOV – 1930-2017
Detchko Pavlov 1930-2017 Detchko Pavlov, scholar, academician and probably the greatest expert on the lead battery that has yet lived, died on the morning of August 25. He was widely respected, widely liked and one of the leading figures in advancing our knowledge — both theoretical and practical — of the electrochemical workings of the battery. 2 • Batteries International • Tribute to Detchko Pavlov
Many senior figures have paid tribute to him as both a man and a scholar. David Prengaman, chairman of RSR told Batteries International: “I have been blessed to have several people over the years aid me in my career and my love affair with lead acid batteries. Detchko Pavlov was one of them. “While I had heard of Pavlov, it was not until the beginnings of ALABC that I met him. He had a way of explaining his theories of active material to me in the simple examples that even a materials person such as I could understand. I remember many discussions with him and my wonder of his understanding of
DETCHKO PAVLOV – 1930-2017
Pavlov: above as a very young child and later as a young researcher. Thousands of engineers and researchers were later to benefit from his deep understanding of the electrochemical mechanisms within lead batteries.
“Detchko! He’s forgotten more about lead than I’ve ever known” —John Devitt, father of the VRLA battery the subtle nuances of charge and discharge reactions.” Boris Monahov, program director for the ALABC his former student and eventually a colleague of Pavlov said: “Detchko was a very humble person never taking himself too seriously — he had a brilliant sense of humour and often made jokes at his own expense. “After all these 25 years I spent with him I felt that he was both my teacher and my relative — I spent more time with him than with my parents. I recall with fondness the discussions we had in the lab after work was over or on Saturday when all the administrative and other noises were off.” His intellectual prowess and knowl-
edge of his subject was legendary. “Detchko? He’s forgotten more about lead than I’ve ever known!” says John Devitt, inventor of the VRLA battery and no intellectual slouch himself. “He was an outstanding researcher and scientist with a highly individual approach to the subject of his studies. One of his talents was his patience and ability to move step by step in understanding the mechanisms that underpin how batteries work,” says Monahov. “He was able to explain such mechanisms simply. He liked saying: ‘science is a simple thing but it’s not for simple people’. “He helped 10 of scientists to design their research, prepare their theses and develop their careers. He helped thousands of battery engineers with his books and lectures and helped his colleagues to resist, survive and flourish in a public environment not always generous and friendly to research teams. He was a great man.”
Detchko Pavlov was born on September 9, 1930 in Shipka, a sleepy town in Central Bulgaria nestling in the Balkan Mountains. He and his sister attended the local Saints Cyril and Methodius grammar school in Kazanlak, where their mother taught mathematics and physics and their father taught in the primary school. In 1946, when Detchko was 16, a
young chemistry teacher visited their school. He taught the students how to work out chemical equations and demonstrated various chemical experiments.
For the young Pavlov this was an epiphany, which inspired him to decide to study industrial chemistry. During the next two years, Detchko was its star pupil. For his excellence, he was selected to be the school standard-bearer in his final year. His sister at the time said he was “a serious tidy boy, fond of books and very determined to do well”. His academic career started in 1948 when he obtained a place to read chemical engineering at the State University in Sofia. In 1953, after graduating with a degree in electrochemistry from the Higher Institute of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy, he was invited to join the department. It was headed by professor Stefan Hristov, a pioneer in the application of quantum mechanics to electrochemistry. In the same department working alongside him as an assistant professor was a shy pretty girl, Svetla Raitcheva, who had just completed her higher education at the D Mendeleev Chemical Technical Institute in Moscow and already had a reputation for academic brilliance and a fearsome intellect. Their scientific collaboration grew into a friendship and ultimately, mar-
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OBITUARY: DETCHKO PAVLOV team of some 25 co-workers — the best graduates from the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy and the Faculties of Chemistry and Physics of the Sofia State University — have broken new ground in understanding the processes at work in a battery. In 1961, Pavlov obtained a one year posting at the Institut du Radium, Marie and Pierre Curie Laboratory in Paris, France working for the laboratory director, professor Haisinski who had once worked with Marie Curie. Haisinski directed Pavlov towards research on the chemistry of complex anode processes and in particular moving research into practical applications.
Pavlov and love of his life, wife Svetla
riage. Svetla went on to earn her PhD in quantum chemistry and became first an associate professor and then a full professor. (She eventually chaired the Department of Physical Chemistry and also became head of the institute.) Svetla was to be the love of his life and he was devastated when she died a few years ago. At the 1960 National Congress of Chemists, Pavlov had reported the results of his research into polarography. Impressed, academician Kaishev, director of the department of electrochemistry at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, invited Pavlov to join the department. It was an auspicious time to spe-
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cialize. Bulgaria had begun to concentrate its manufacturing efforts in the production of electric forklift trucks Pavlov was assigned the task of researching into improving lead acid batteries. For the next half a century, working on the fourth floor of Building 10 on the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences campus, Pavlov and his eventual
In 1967, Pavlov and his colleague professor Evgeni Budevski established the Central Laboratory of Electrochemical Power Sources (CLEPS), in which he became the head of the Lead Acid Battery Department (LABD). Following the discovery of rich deposits of lead ores in southern Bulgaria, in the mid-1960s, the country became the major supplier of forklift trucks and batteries to the USSR and other eastern bloc countries. Alongside their scientific research, the LABD scientists actively supported the Bulgarian battery industry with new technologies, transfer of knowledge and genuine theoretical modelling. For example, Pavlov and colleague Vasil Iliev proved that when polymer additives are added to the battery, its power at low temperatures increases. Their scientific contribution paid off. The starter batteries produced in the Bulgarian “Start” factory in Dobritch continued to work well in freezing and sub-zero temperatures. With Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Tyumen unable to provide anything comparable, Bulgarian batteries were bought in large quantities, starting at 300,000 units and rising. In return, Bulgaria received 12,000-15,000 automobiles per year from the Zhiguli-Lada factory in the Soviet city of Toliati. The range of studies conducted by
In 1997 he was elected as academician of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. This is the highest scientific rank in eastern Europe. It is only when one academician dies that a new one can be elected. www.batteriesinternational.com
OBITUARY: DETCHKO PAVLOV Pavlov and his team has been extensive. These include: the kinetics of electrochemical processes; electrochemistry of lead electrodes; semiconductor properties and structure of lead oxides, lead sulphate and basic lead sulphates; processes related to the all stages of the technology of battery manufacture including paste mixing, curing, drying, pickling, formation; structures of lead and lead oxide active masses; processes taking place inside the battery during its storage, operation and rest; electrochemistry of antimony and tin electrodes; processes of oxygen evolution and its recombination back to water, thermal phenomena in VRLA batteries and the mechanism of the processes causing thermal run away in VRLA batteries, degradation processes and the ways to suppress or avoid them. Of special note was the way Pavlov and his team investigated the way in which expanders affected the performance of negative lead acid battery plates and how they could be improved. This led to the creation of a new generation of highly efficient organic ligno-sulphonate expanders. The team revealed also the mechanism of the processes taking place in the AGM separator and developed a modified, better AGM with programmable properties. In consequence, Pavlov and his team have been granted 33 patents, in Bulgaria and abroad. He also developed a lecture course “Processes that occur during battery manufacture” and “Essentials of Lead Acid Batteries” which he has presented in numerous countries worldwide.
A second family
And with his researches came international acknowledgement as Pavlov’s team’s work was recognised for its worth. One of the more charming characteristics of Pavlov — who had a reputation for being a modest, kindly but diligent person — was the way that he has never distinguished his work from that of his team. Indeed when his wife was alive the two often referred to the
Yordan Kostadinov, Geno Papazov, Vasil Iliev and Pavlov: a formidable team
Battery heroes all at the first LABAT conference in 1989 — Ernst Voss, Galina Aidman, David Rand, Katherine Bullock and Pavlov
team as their second family. “He was extremely proud of his team at CLEPS and fiercely protective of them as his children as he had none of his own,” says Prengaman. “With the change from Communism, he was forced to get support from outside the state to support his research. Given the opportunity but little in funds, he managed to travel extensively to conferences and battery companies always trying to obtain project funding for his laboratory.” Pavlov was awarded a Doctor of Sci-
Pavlov and his team investigated the way expanders affected the performance of negative lead acid battery plates leading to the creation of a new generation of highly efficient organic ligno-sulphonate expanders. www.batteriesinternational.com
ence degree in 1984 — a belated qualification. Fully occupied at CLEPS, he had been unable to find the time to make a conventional approach. So when he submitted his thesis, the Scientific Council of Physical Chemistry — the toughest in Bulgaria — agreed that this was not merely a PhD work, but something much bigger. They awarded him a DSc. From 1988, he was the driving force behind the success of the LABAT series of conferences — he chaired 10 of them — which have since been held every three years. As testimony to their importance, the proceedings of these meetings have been published as special issues of the Journal of Power Sources. He was a member of the editorial boards of five international journals published in Switzerland, India, Rus-
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OBITUARY: DETCHKO PAVLOV sia and Bulgaria. He also influenced the decision of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences to award battery scientists and experts with the Gaston Planté medal for outstanding contributions. Up to now 17 battery veterans from a range of countries have received this award. In the early 1990s with the Republic of Bulgaria undergoing rapid democratic changes — and the economy being hit by rising inflation and falling standards of living — Pavlov realized there was a risk that the department he had been building up for over 25 years could fall apart. He introduced what he called “the American approach to science” — essentially using commercial partners to boost his research efforts. Before long he had persuaded international concerns such as Varta Research in Germany, ALABC in the USA, and Oerlikon in Switzerland to offer his department remunerative several-year contracts to develop production technologies. Pat Moseley, a former manager of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium — and pictured below awarding Pavlov with the ILA’s Lifetime Achievement Award — said:
“Detchko led his strong team in the scientific study of lead-acid batteries without the financial advantages of his contemporaries in other parts of the world. “He was a true gentleman and a dedicated scientist. The work and the spirit of Detchko will stay alive after his unprecedented scientific career through his papers.”
In 1997 he was elected a full member, or academician of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. This is the highest scientific rank in eastern Europe. It is only when one academician dies that a new one can be elected. That year he also became adviser and cooperative member of the ITE Battery Research Institute, Nagoya, Japan. Pavlov and his team — research scientists Geno Papazov, Stefan Ruevski, Temelaki Rogachev, Boris Monahov, Galia Petkova, Mitko Dimitrov, Plamen Nikolov, Maria Matrakova and others has written extensively — more than 200 papers have been published in international scientific journals. To-date, these have been cited more than 2,700 times in scientific literature worldwide. Often just one of these pa-
pers has gone through as many as 16 drafts before he is satisfied. His last work Lead-Acid Batteries, Science and Technology, Second Edition appeared this March. The value of Pavlov’s contribution has been acknowledged through a huge range of awards and honours: 1976, The Cyril and Methodius Medal; 1980, The Award of the Federal Ministry of Australia; 1984, The Research Award of the Electrochemical Society; 1986, The National Dimitrov Award for Science; 1994, The Gaston Planté Medal; 1995, The International Cultural Diploma of Honor; 2006, The Marin Drinov Medal with Ribbon – the highest award of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In 2010 he was awarded the ILA Lifetime Award and most recently NAATBatt’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The analytic process
Admirers say the genius of Pavlov has been in the way he can pinpoint where a problem might be occurring in, say, a piece of battery production or use and then strips the processes down to fundamental methods. Once the process has been elaborated he is also famous for the clarity of his writing so that not just academics but any
The value of Pavlov’s contribution has been acknowledged through a series of awards and honours: 1976, The Cyril and Methodius Medal; 1980, The Award of the Federal Ministry of Australia; 1984, The Research Award of the Electrochemical Society; 1986, The National Dimitrov Award for Science; 1994, The Gaston Planté Medal; 1995, The International Cultural Diploma of Honor; 2006, The Marin Drinov Medal with Ribbon – the highest award of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The ILA Lifetime Award in 2010 and most recently NAATBatt’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
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OBITUARY: DETCHKO PAVLOV production engineer can use it to their practical or theoretical ends. But all who knew him had anecdotes to tell about Pavlov the man. “’Detchko’ is the Bulgarian word for ‘kid’,” says Paolina Atanassova, R&D manager at Cabot Corporation. “And he had some of those passions and enthusiasm. “I remember in April 2011 when I arrived at the Institute’s conference room to work through power point presentations, data, results and the like. Detchko smiled and asked if the Wi-Fi TV connection was good — he wanted to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate. He was excited as a kid. ‘Polarization curves can wait,’ he told us. ‘This is a love story and a fairy tale, and once in a lifetime opportunity to see something so beautiful.’” Kevin Desmond, a historian, who wrote a chapter in a recent book on Pavlov recalls: “His passion was to find out as much as he can about the world in which we live. So in his extensive travels, he would always spend extra time sightseeing, taking photographs and getting acquainted with the host country and the people. Another passion, less well known in the conference circuit is his love of classical music and pop music from
“I will miss him very much ... the battery industry will miss him, his friends throughout the world will miss him, but most of all lead acid batteries will miss him” — David Prengaman the 1960s and 1970s.” David Rand, an industry veteran and former head of the ALABC, says: “I still recall my first meeting with Detchko. It was in 1980 and he was on sabbatical leave at Flinders University in Adelaide. We were attending the EVE-80 Conference and Electric Vehicle Exposition organized by the South Australian Energy Council. “We were in a car park on top of one of the university buildings where a number of EVs were on display. Detchko was invited to drive an Enfield 8000. Without hesitation, he jumped into the car and zig-zagged around the other vehicles in a cavalier, but alarming, display of steering and then hurtled down the ramp to the street, several storeys below. “I believe he was rescued sometime later after the battery had become exhausted! “Many years later on the occasion
of LABAT 1, he picked me up from the airport in Sofia in his Trabant… his style of driving hadn’t changed!” Pavlov died just days before what would have been his 87th birthday. After recovering from a heart operation earlier in the summer, he suddenly contracted a high temperature, the doctors were unable to overcome the fever. “He loved many things in life: his beloved wife, his cottage in the mountains, his colleagues at CLEPS, teaching people how to build better batteries, and lead acid batteries. I will miss him very much,” says Prengaman. “The battery industry will miss him, his friends throughout the world will miss him, but most of all lead acid batteries will miss him.” We will not see the like of him again. Academician Detchko Pavlov. September 9, 1930-August 25, 2017
He never distinguished his work from that of his team. Indeed when his wife was alive the two often referred to the team as their second family.
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