The Faculty of Environment was established in 1991 (as one of the founding faculties of new university) as the very first faculty oriented to environmental protection in former Czechoslovakia. The main impulse for establishing was the threatening state of the environment in the region as a result of open-cast brown coal mining with consequent vast changes in the countryside and the coal-burning for electricity together with large chemical industry which lead to significant environmental pollution. During its history, however, more research areas were established including those with international impact. Nevertheless, also due to the limited size of the faculty, we do not aim to solve global environmental problems in their width, but rather stay focused on the regional environment, its remediation and protection.
Overall, the dominant part of the R&D&I activities consists of applied research, especially in collaboration with companies and upon their initiative. Nevertheless, fundamental research is also an essential part. The publication activity is gradually increasing and the same is true for the number of publications in prestigious journals (D1 and Q1) and success rate in fundamental research grants.
Nevertheless, to cover dominant branches of environmental sciences, the faculty needs to increase the number of researchers significantly. This process is complicated due to insufficiently qualified personnel on the labour market, therefore in past years, we have aimed to sustain the successful PhD: graduates and to attract foreign researchers.
Key research areas
• Applied ecology of the anthropogenically affected localities dominantly within the region.
• Development of novel functional materials and their utilization in environmental technologies and environmental protection (decomposition of pesticide and warefare agants).
• Environmental analytical chemistry
• Geographic information systems and their use for monitoring of countryside changes
• Second generation bioafuel crops cultivated on marginal or contaminated lands
• Environmental technologies and waste utilization
Examples of R&D results which have social relevance
• R&D&I in the field of digitalisation of cultural and natural monuments in the region contributed to their improved protection and listing of the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří mining region to UNESCO world heritage list in 2019.
• Contribution to the reclamation and restoration of these localities.
• Ecology research of protected areas nearby the faculty resulted in recommendations towards proper management and improved protection.
• Development of functional materials (such as photocatalysts or reactive sorbents) lead to their implementation in remediation technologies.
• Faculty R&D&I contributed to several environmental (bio)technologies which lead to lower pollution and sustainable development.
• New methodology for the assessment of biotope value. The method is based on innovation and the extension of biotope valuation methodology (the AOPK biotope valuation method). The method was implemented by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic for use by state authorities and with EIA quantification.
• Novel instrumental analytical methods for pesticides and pollutants were validated and used by Czech Police for investigation of environmental criminality.
• A method for recycling of zinc from wastewaters of the Glanzstoff Bohemia, the producer of viscose fibres, was developed. The method enables recycling of resource (ZnSO4, >1 ton/year) and elimination of organic pollution which, among economical profits, contributes 0to the protection of the Labe river due to lowered discharges of pollutants.
Examples of applied R&D results
• Novel reactive sorbents are capable of hydrolysis of organophosphates. These compounds can serve as sorbents and simultaneously they hydrolyse the organophosphate compounds, such as organophosphate pesticides or warfare agents (e.g. Soman or Sarin). Several companies producing protective materials are interested in the results and the same is true for the army (represented by the Czech Military Research Institute).
• Potable water production apparatus. This electricity-free apparatus is capable of production of potable water using a combination of several purification techniques. It is applicable e.g. in case of emergency or during natural disasters.
• Biodetection set Analum® comprising of bioluminescent bioreporters encapsulated in polyvinyl alcohol matrix. Currently, the proof-of-concept is under evaluation by E & H services company.
• Antibacterial nanofiltration textile. Together with the Faculty of Science and Nanovia company novel antibacterial material produced using the nanospider technology was developed and patented. The material is applicable e.g. in air-conditions and for personal protective veils.
• Novel recyclable abrasive compound for grinding wheels. This invention was successfully protected by Czech patent and currently, negotiations are undertaking with a few companies focusing on transfer and bulk production.
• Magnetic sorbents for sorption of various contaminants from industrial waters. These sorbents have magnetic core with modified surface sorption layer specific for various pollutants. Joint applied research Mikrochem LKT company was carried out to produce these sorbents in bulk from waste iron.
Faculty publishes its own research journal Studia Oecologica which aims for the indexing in Scopus.