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Dr David Robert Karsa, 1943-2022

The UK speciality chemicals industry lost one of its leading lights on 17 December 2022, when Dr David Karsa passed away after suffering severe organ failure.

A chemist by training, David ran his consultancy, TensioMetrics, from his Stockport home for over 50 years while  writing several well-regarded books on surfactants in the Sheffield Annual Surfactants Review and the Applied Surfactant Series. He also co-authored books on both surfactants and biocides.

David was one of nature’s joiners, taking a leading role in multiple industry associations. He served for many years in the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and chaired its North West Industrial Division (NWID) from 1987 to 1989 and again from 1999 to 2014.

In addition, he was at various times a director of the RSC Speciality Chemicals Sector, the Federation of Chemical Associations and the British Association of Chemical Specialties (BACS), now renamed the British Chemicals Association. In his private life, he was an active member of the University of Liverpool Mark Lodge of freemasons.

Speaking at his funeral, Dr Diana Leitch, associate director of the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, remembered David as “a leading force” in ensuring that money was raised to restore some of the archives of the 19th century chemist, John Dalton, which had been damaged by bombing in World War II. In his time at the RSC NWID, he also organised financial support for the Catalyst Science Centre and Museum in Widnes.

I first met David early on in my time at Speciality Chemicals Magazine, attending some of the regular short conferences he organised for BACS on biocides, surfactants and flame retardants. These were always excellent and he was a friendly, welcoming figure to someone entirely new to the industry. Our condolences go to his partner Barry Hegarty and his many friends in the industry.


Dr Andrew Warmington, Editor

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