William H. Podolny
William H. Podolny of Manchester, died Wednesday, January 23, 2013, age 88. Bill was an engineer and an innovator. Bill joined Pratt and Whitney as an engineer at a time of great change. After the end of World War II the need to develop jet engines was recognized as essential for the company. There were established competitors and creation of design capabilities was needed quickly. Bill made essential contributions to this extraordinary effort in compressor design technology within Pratt and Whitney. Ultimately the J57 jet engine and a derivative JT3D engine achieved exceptional success in military applications and airline applications. These engines and those that followed established a superior efficiency and thrust capability. Bill’s original work, continued technical innovation and managerial capabilities were well recognized. As a result he was given the opportunity and responsibility for a new pioneering effort in fuel cell engineering and development. Under his guidance Pratt & Whitney acquired the patent rights to the Bacon alkali fuel cell technology. Bill and his team convinced NASA that the 70% conversion of fuel to energy plus a sole by-product of pure water was ideal for providing electric power in space. The Pratt & Whitney fuel cell was a major contributor to the success of the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. Although he became blind from glaucoma, he continued to manage his unit and promote the use of fuel cells. Bill’s division was eventually spun off as a separate company, International Fuel Cells that was jointly owned by United Technologies and Toshiba. Following his retirement Bill was acknowledged in Japan where he was named “Mr. Fuel Cell” and by his receipt of the Sir William Grove Medal in Europe in 1995. Bill was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 50 years, Irma and is survived by his three sons, one daughter, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren. No services were held at his request. In lieu of flowers, donations to Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation are appreciated. Arrangements are entrusted to Weinstein Mortuary, Hartford.

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