After 12 years at DTU Chemical Engineering Lars Kiørboe has decided to retire. Photo: Thorkild Christensen

DTU Chemical Engineering Pilot Plant is shifting hands

Wednesday 01 Nov 17
by Frederik Appel Olsen


Steen Larsen
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 28 04

After 12 years as head of DTU Chemical Engineering’s Pilot Plant facilities, Lars Kiørboe decided to retire. He can look back at an extraordinary development of the plant, and the department can look forward to its continuation under the leadership of Steen Larsen.

Lars Kiørboe has been Head of Pilot Plant for the last 12 years. Before his arrival at DTU Chemical Engineering the large scale experimental area was in dire need of development:

“The Pilot Plant had been there for 40 years when I was hired, but the condition could be better. If the department wanted to do something substantial with the plant – and there was a clear political will to do so at the time – it was crucial to improve the equipment and the operating procedure; to modernize it, but also in regard to content and magnitude. On top of that, we needed to develop reasonable course packages suited for the modernized Pilot Plant. This was my initial task,” Lars Kiørboe says.

And on the 31st of October, on the day of his retirement, Lars was able to look back at a Pilot Plant that has taken exactly that direction. The plant is a great attraction, both in- and outside of DTU: The participant numbers for the Pilot Plant courses speak for themselves, and students from all around the world come to use the facilities every year. The Pilot Plant is an internationally recognized attraction.

Filling big shoes

Steen Larsen will replace Lars Kiørboe as Head of Pilot Plant. Like Lars when he first came to DTU, Steen has a background in the industry and has worked for more than 30 years within the biochemical sphere. He has been involved in building factories and with processing chains and quality control within several countries. He hopes that this experience will help him carry on the legacy that Lars leaves behind:

“There is no doubt that I have some big shoes to fill in succeeding Lars as Head of Pilot Plant, and I have a sense that I will be working with a very strong team. The saying “we live and learn” has gotten a new meaning for me: I have to pass on a lot of the knowledge I have attained through my experience in the biochemical industry, but at the same time I am also put in a new position where I have to learn a lot myself. To me, that is very positive,“ says Steen.

The Pilot Plant has more than 30 large-scale experimental installations representing almost every technology from the heavy chemical industry to the finer biochemical industry – something that most universities envy. Upon leaving, Lars sees more extended cooperation with industry as the future challenge of this internationally recognized plant:

“We have a Pilot Plant of such a good quality that we want to use more externally as a service opportunity to the industry. Small and medium-size corporations do not always have the same opportunities as the bigger players for developing products and processes because they lack the equipment. This is an area where there is still much to do,” Lars says.

Steen concurs:

“I agree with Lars – we have to keep doing what we already do in terms of offering the students a first class learning environment and we also have to realize that we live in symbiosis with the industry to achieve our primary goals to offer high quality research and excellent engineering candidates,” he says.

Saying goodbye to the right profile – and hello to the next

Kim Dam-Johansen, Head of Department at DTU Chemical Engineering, knew Lars from previous jobs and hired him based on a vision of growing the Pilot Plant to the highest international level. Kim has followed the development of the modern Pilot Plant closely:

“I have known Lars for 30 years, and I knew that he had right profile for the job. Lars has been extremely valuable to DTU Chemical Engineering. In his 12 years of leadership of the Pilot Plant it has grown into the internationally recognized institution that we hoped to reach and which we are incredibly proud of. However, as we are saying goodbye to Lars, I am confident that Steen, with his profile and experience, is the right candidate to carry on the legacy,” says Kim Dam-Johansen.

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