Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Macromolecular Materials (ÚCHTML)
The Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Macromolecular Materials (ÚCHTML) is the research and education centre of the University's Faculty of Chemical Technology for macromolecular chemistry and technology of macromolecular materials, technology of paints and organic coating materials, technology of chemical fibres and textile chemistry, and technology of wood, paper and pulp processing.
Polymeric materials and chemistry of polymers were essentially studied at the then Institute of Chemical Technology (VŠCHT) in Pardubice from its inception: indeed, as early as 1953, 4th-Untilyear students could select from 3 study branches directly associated with polymeric materials: plastics, paints and varnishes, and synthetic fibres. The subject of the chemical technology of textiles was also associated with polymeric materials to some extent.
From the history of the Department of Technology of Macromolecular Materials
The first Head of the Department of Plastics, which trained students in the technology of plastics, was Professor Jan Mečíř. Among the founding members of the Department was also Professor Vladimír Čermák, a pupil of Professor Otto Wichterle. Professor Čermák headed the later Department of Polymers during 1990 – 1991 and collaborated with the Department also later as an emeritus lecturer until 1999. The department for the other study branch, the Department of Paints and Coating Materials, was founded by Professor Josef Rožan, who joined VŠCHT in 1954. Professor Rožan founded a paints research institute in Prague during World War II and laid the foundations of a scientific approach to paints and coating materials in Czechoslovakia. Professor Rožan played an important role in setting the orientation of the Department (where he was active for 10 years until he retired). In fact, the successor to the Department, i.e. the present Institute, is still the only technical university level site where the technology of paints and coatings is taught and studied at a scientific level. The establishment of the then entirely-new branch of synthetic fibres was due to Professor František Kebl. Teaching of this branch of science and technology was initially the responsibility of a specialized Department of Technology of Chemical Fibres. When contributing to the establishment of the Department, Professor Kebl built on his wealth of experience gained during his employment at Baťa, during his study stay in the US, and when building up fibre processing plants as a new industry in post-war Czechoslovakia. After Professor Mečíř's death in 1954, Professor Kebl took over the leadership of the initially independent departments, which he combined into a single Department of Technology of Macromolecular Materials and Textiles. The Department kept this name till 1960.
During the early years, the Department of Plastics focused on radical polymerisations and resins. Lectures were also delivered by renowned external experts (such as Jaromír Šňupárek Sr., who taught the technology of plastics from 1955). From the point of view of the topics investigated, the early 1960s were an interesting era: the problems studied included Ziegler-Natta catalytic systems for the synthesis of syndiotactic polypropylene by coordination polymerisation. The incentive for the study of this topic, very progressive at that time, came from Jaroslav Šváb, who spent some time with Professor Natta's Institute. The Department (whose name from 1960 was the Department of Technology of Plastics), taught three branches of science and technology: plastics, paints and varnishes, and chemical fibres. The Department was then headed up by Professor Karel Friml, who later was also Head of Chemical Technology of Textiles for some time. As part of organisation structure changes within the Faculty, chemical technology of fibres became an independent organisational unit and the department was transformed into the Department of Technology of Macromolecular Materials in 1966. Professor Josef Mleziva became Head of the Department in 1967. Before joining the Institute of Chemical Technology, Professor Mleziva was with the Research Institute of Synthetic Resins and Varnishes (VÚSPL) in Pardubice, and he directed the Department towards medical binders, reactoplasts and composites, which were topics studied by VÚSPL. This created favourable conditions for collaboration between the two institutions and, in particular, for close ties with chemical companies, notably with the Spolek pro chemickou a hutní výrobu in Ústí nad Labem. In the R&D area, focus was in particular on alkyde and epoxy resins and unsaturated polyesters. This topic was studied both theoretically and with a view to introducing the outputs into practical use. Many practical results of the research found application at the Spolek pro chemickou a hutní výrobu, and in applications of advanced polymeric materials – adhesives, sealants, paints/coating materials, flooring materials and glass-reinforced plastics. Another interesting project consisted in finding a use for the by-products from the manufacture of cyclohexanone and ethylbenzene: these results also found practical application. After 1990, study was extended with the investigation of emulsion polymerisation and synthesis of dispersion binders for environmentally friendly water-base systems and study of new type composites.
The Paints and Coatings section, which pursued the formulation of paints and investigations into the properties of protective coatings, examined new varnish binders and formulated and evaluated protective resin coatings. Focus was on coating material types with specific properties for demanding applications. After Professor Rožan's retirement in 1966, his work was followed by Professor Jiří Tomš and Professor Jaroslav Jarušek. Jaroslav Jarušek, after graduating from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague (where he was a pupil of and student-assistant to Professor Wichterle) and before joining the Institute of Chemical Technology in Pardubice in 1958, worked at the Barvy a laky (Paints and Varnishes) industrial plant in Kralupy nad Vltavou. Under his leadership, the Paints and Coatings section collaborated on an basis with the paints & varnishes industry, and this collaboration has been fostered constantly. Later, from 1987 to 1990, Professor Jarušek headed up the whole Department. Apart from technological collaboration with the paints industry, the large number of three-semester or four-semester postgraduate courses (now referred to as licensing studies) are highly valued: they are organised for employees and managers from the paints industry and their focus is on environmentally friendly water-based systems. At the same time, synthesis efforts concentrate on new environmentally friendly pigments for organic coating materials and paints, core-shell pigments, and binders and additives, with a view to achieving the highest possible resistance of surface finishes to corrosive environments. Nanoparticles are being prepared and investigated for this purpose, and conductive polymers for protective coatings and paints are being tested. Catalysis and antioxidants for coating materials are also studied. Professor Jarušek's direction of research has been pursued by Professor Petr Kalenda, who also initiated new research into additional promising areas for paints and organic coatings.
The Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Macromolecular Materials today
Following a number of reorganisations of the administrative arrangement of the various teams engaged in macromolecular chemistry, various polymeric materials and textile chemistry at the former Institute of Chemical Technology in Pardubice (topics that now are subjects studied by the Department of Wood, Paper and Pulp were also addressed by the Department of Chemistry and Technology of Fibrous Materials for some time), the Institute of Polymeric Materials with its three departments – Department of Synthetic Polymers and Resins, Department of Paints and Organic Coatings, and Department of Fibrous Materials and Textile Chemistry – was established in 1997. A Joint Laboratory for the Analysis and Evaluation of Polymers was also established with the Synpo a. s. company in Pardubice. In 2009, the Institute of Polymeric Materials was amalgamated with the Department of Wood into today's Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Macromolecular Materials (ÚCHTML).
Today, ÚCHTML is the guarantor of education in a number of subjects, not just in macromolecular chemistry. In addition to bachelors and graduated specialists in the subjects of Technology of Manufacture and Processing of Polymers, Organic Coatings and Paints, and Fibres and Textile Chemistry and Technology of Paper and Pulp, the Institute supervises many postgraduate students in the Technology of Macromolecular Materials and Materials Surface Engineering. The Institute is the principal guarantor of the Faculty's accredited “habilitation” subject of Technology of Macromolecular Materials. Collaboration with Synpo a. s. (successor to the Research Institute of Synthetic Resins and Varnishes in Pardubice) is of particular importance for this educational facility because students have the opportunity to broaden their practical knowledge in the area of analysis and evaluation of the properties of polymeric materials in the joint laboratory. The Institute offers services in electron microscopy and assessment of the properties of plastics and composites, fibres and textile materials and assessment of paints and coating materials, especially of their corrosion protection capabilities. The Institute collaborates with institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and with its Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in particular. The potential for such collaboration has been increasing lately owing to the acquisition of a number of modern instruments.
Teachers at today's Institute of Polymeric Materials have been active members of the Czech Chemical Society for many years: they established the Group for Paints, Resins and Pigments as early as 1968. They also were among those who re-established the Union of Textile Chemists and Colourists, initially established in 1908, where they worked until 1993 within the Union of Scientific and Technical Societies as the Group for Fibres and Textile Chemistry. The Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Macromolecular Materials of the Faculty of Chemical Technology is therefore now the site where the Czech Chemical Society's Group for Paints, Resins and Pigments is located. This Group is a member of FATIPEC (Federation of Associations of Technicians for Industry of Paints in European Countries), and the University of Pardubice is also the headquarters of the Union of Textile Chemists and Colourists. The Institute organises and is the professional guarantor of major conferences such as the New Findings in Paints conference – the 44th takes place this year – organised for both manufacturers and users of paints and paint ingredients. Conferences are also organised for textile professionals, such as the National Colourist Conference with the involvement of foreign experts, and the TEXCHEM meeting of textile chemists.
The many years' scientific and technological work of the staff of the former Departments and today's ÚCHTML is reflected in a large number of publications, patents, research reports, university texts, textbooks and monographs as well in products and technologies which are based on it. The scientific and technological erudition of current Institute staff is attested to by grants obtained from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (GAČR), the Higher Education Development Fund (FRVŠ), the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO), the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TAČR), as well as from European projects bringing funds to the Institute. The joint existence of the initially independently developing departments and department sections is evidence that joining the efforts and resources was a well chosen direction. Teaching of all subjects for which the Institute is responsible has been rationalised, and students' interest in those subjects and topics which are unique within the Czech higher-education system and very much desired by industry, has increased in additional. The both theoretically and technologically directed Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Macromolecular Materials has been and certainly will continue to be a valuable constituent of the Faculty of Chemical Technology, University of Pardubice.
Source: “50 let chemického vysokého školství v Pardubicích”, published by the Faculty of Chemical Technology, University of Pardubice, 2000.