Ian Fells was educated at Trinity College Cambridge where he gained a PhD in reaction kinetics. He also spent time in the army on national service as chief wireless officer British Troops in Austria. After lecturing at Sheffield University he was appointed Reader in Fuel Science at The University of Durham in 1962. He has been Professor of Energy Conversion at The University of Newcastle since 1975 and has published some 250 papers on topics as varied as the chemical physics of combustion, fuel cells, rocket combustion, energy economics, environmental protection, energy conversion systems, and energy policy. He was elected fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering in 1979, was president of The Institute of Energy for 1978/79 and was elected fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1996. He was awarded a CBE in June 2000.
He also believes this to be a responsibility of all scientists and engineers. Ian Fells was a science advisor to The World Energy Council (1987 to 1998), has been special adviser to The House of Lords Select Committee on The European Community dealing with energy and the environment and the House of Commons select committee for Trade & Industry & Environment. He has been Energy Adviser to the EC and European Parliament and has advised a number of foreign governments on energy policy. In 1993 he was awarded the Michael Faraday medal and prize by the Royal Society. His recreations are listed in Who's Who as sailing, cross country skiing and "energy conversation”.