Nicolas Delruelle (1965 - 2016)

Nicolas Delruelle passed his degree in aerospace engineering with flying colours at the University of Liège, Belgium, in 1987. He was soon recruited by the FN Moteur company, a subsidiary of Snecma, and was seconded to the Société Européenne de Propulsion (SEP) in Vernon, France, where he worked on testing the cryogenic engines for the third stages of the Ariane rockets. Subsequently he developed and carried out simulations for the new Vulcain cryogenic engine, for use on the Ariane 5 rockets.


At the end of 1991, Nicolas was recruited by CERN to join the Cryogenics group, where he worked on the SPS superconducting cavities, for the injection of electrons and positrons into LEP. He proved his mastery of cryogenic processes by taking delivery of two helium coolers allowing the superconducting cavities to be cooled to 4.5 K. In the early 1990s, CERN was deploying real-time process monitoring using microprocessors for the first time. Nicolas played a pioneering role in this new activity and the SPS cooling system had the highest level of automation of any cooling system at CERN.

Later, he defined the functional logic of the cryogenic infrastructure for the new cryogenic test stations to be installed at SM18 and in the superconducting cable laboratory (Building 163) for the future superconducting magnets of the LHC – a vital contribution to the project.

Building on this experience, in 2001 Nicolas became the project leader for the helium cryogenics system of the ATLAS experiment, a role which considerably broadened his professional horizons and responsibilities. He was involved in the installation of the cryogenic test station that was used for the qualification of ATLAS’s toroid magnets in Building 180 and then in the definition and procurement of helium coolers and distribution systems for the exterior cryogenics of ATLAS at Point 1 of the LHC. After having implemented the associated functional logic, he supervised the testing of the cryogenic system with the detectors’ superconducting magnets. He also supported the operation of ATLAS’s cryogenics throughout the first run that led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, all the while working on the optimisation of the system.

More recently, in 2010, Nicolas took up the responsibility for defining and implementing the cryogenics system for the HIE-ISOLDE project. He devoted himself to ensuring that this system would be operational on time so that the new physics at this accelerator could begin. The system is now in its second year of operation, much to the satisfaction of the HIE-ISOLDE collaboration.

Nicolas was a man of conviction who fully invested himself in all of his projects with the utmost professionalism. He demonstrated his commitment to CERN throughout the years he spent working in the technical field and also through his work supporting relations between CERN and its personnel. Nicolas was hard-working and brave, but also jovial; he knew how to communicate his sense of fun and joy to those around him. We have lost a colleague, a true professional and, most of all, a friend.

His colleagues and friends

We deeply regret to announce the death of Nicolas Delruelle on 14 September 2016. Nicolas Delruelle, who was born on 20 July 1965, worked in the TE Department and had been at CERN since 1st February 1992.

The Director-General has sent a message of condolence to his family on behalf of the CERN personnel.

Social Affairs

Human Resources Department

CERN’s flags were flown at half-mast on Tuesday, 20 September 2016, the day of the funeral, in accordance with the procedure for the death of an employed member of the personnel.