Averill Wiley was born in Pullman, Washington, on June 10, 1911. After attending Whitworth University for two years, he received his Bachelors (1935) and Masters (1936) of Science degrees, both from the Washington State University and subsequently did graduate work for 2.5 years at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Averill was an early environmental scientist who specialized in the development of alternative uses of the spent products from the pulp and paper industry.
Following a short stint as a bacteriologist for the city of Spokane, Washington, he was hired as the Technical Director of the Wisconsin Sulphite Pulp Manufacturers Research League (SPMRL) to operate and manage a small pilot plant in Appleton, Wisconsin. By 1966, SPMRL grew to include 38 U.S. and 3 Canadian pulp mills, a laboratory and the pilot plant. The staff grew to include 56 chemists, technicians and administrators. The SPMRL was later renamed as Pulp Manufacturers Research League (PMRL) that eventually merged with the Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin. (late 1970s).
Many productive and environmentally significant uses of sulphite pulp wastes were developed under Wiley’s direction. He was one of the first to make use of reverse osmosis technology for cleaning up effluents from sulphite mills. He later conceptualized that it takes less energy to freeze water than to evaporate it and combined reverse osmosis technology with a freeze-concentration step that reduced energy costs for the overall process. It was a highly successful pilot-plant demonstration at two pulp mill locations.
Wiley was the author, or co-author, of 65 technical papers, one book and seven (7) U.S. and foreign patents.
Wiley was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gaulladet College in Washington, D.C. “for a distinguished career as a bacteriologist, biochemist, and research director (1968); Invited to present a research paper at the International TAPPI Conference in Stockholm, Sweden (1953); He was chosen out of 700 candidates and awarded the Nash Prize for Conservation for his “Outstanding Contribution in Reducing Sulphite Stream Pollution (1950).
He was a member of the American Chemical Society, Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry and the Alexander Graham Bell Society. He received the Nash Award for Conservation for his “outstanding contributions in reducing sulphite stream pollution”. Wiley accomplished all of this even though he had lost his hearing at the age of 15 due to meningitis
Averill Wiley died in Appleton in 2002 at the age of 91. His wife, Maud, died in 2013. They have two sons, Averill J. Wiley Jr. and William T. Wiley.