166 28 Prague 6
Today's Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague and its Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Bioengineering can trace their origins to the oldest engineering school established in 1707 in Prague upon the initiative of Ch J Willenberk, a military expert. This technical school taught not solely how to construct fortifications, bridges and roads yet also agriculture within the framework of lectures on reclamation of war deteriorated landscape. In 1803 the school was renamed to the Royal Bohemian School of Estates and its education programmes included education on chemistry and chemical technology, including the field which is nowadays called chemistry of natural substances, for the first time.
In 1816 brewmasters and deputy brewmasters of Bohemia sent a request to the Land Committee asking for a school for "pupils of brewing industry" is established at the Polytechnic School. K A Neumann, the first professor of chemistry lectured only on chemical synthesis and analysis and lecturing on biological disciplines was introduced by his successor Prof J Steimann (1779-1833), who involved studies on chemical principles of brewing, wine and vinegar making in his lectures as well.
After Prof J Steimann death Karel Napoleon Balling (1805-1868), a personality of the world importance, took over the teaching of chemistry at the Prague Polytechnic. Prof Balling was also the second Chancellor of the Utraquist (bilingual) Polytechnic Department, duly member of the Royal Society of Sciences in Prague, and a corresponding member of the Caesar Academy of Sciences in Vienna. He published over thirty large volumes and many papers. He was outstanding namely in synthesis and fermentation technology. The so-called Balling sugar meter, Balling scale, and degree Balling (°Bg) have been still widely known. Balling also derived the so-called attenuation theory of fermentation and a formula, later called Balling formula, according to which the concentration of the original wort can be calculated from the concentrations of alcohol and real extract in beer. These pieces of his work done in the 19th century have been still up-to-date. Besides, Balling worked on brewing issues, for instance, of the preparation so hop extracts, which became used in practise as late as in the 1950s.
In 1869 the Prague Polytechnic was split into two separate Polytechnic Institutes of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the German school and the Czech one. Beer brewing teaching was concentrated into the Czech polytechnic which was in 1875 nationalised and given the name of the Bohemian Polytechnic Institute in Prague. In 1868 Antonín Bělohoubek (1845-1910) got habilitated as Associated Professor of brewing at the Department of Prof F Štolba, successor to Prof. Balling. Antonín Bělohoubek produced a proposal to the Polytechnic Institute management to establish a separate field of fermentation chemistry. And thus the today's Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Bioengineering begun to be formed, then named the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Mycology. Since 1873 Prof Bělohoubek lectured, besides beer brewing, also other fermentation disciplines, agrochemistry, and technical microscopy and commodity expertise.
In 1899 Prof Karel Kruis (1851-1917) was installed as the Head of the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Mycology. This pedagogue and scientist enriched the lecturing on fermentation technologies with enzymology and other modern biochemical and microbial aspects. He also deserves a great credit for the construction of experimental brewery and distillery at the Czech University of Technology in Prague, then settled in Trojanova Street.
In 1920 the Czech University of Technology in Prague was renamed to the Czech Technical University in Prague and the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Mycology was then included into the wide way developer branch of chemistry. In that time the Department Head was Prof Jan Šatava, who later also became the Director of the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague. He contributed to the erection of a Technology Hall in the building of current Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague in Prague 6, Technická Street 5, which was completed in 1937. Experimental brewery and distillery were implemented in this hall again. Prof Šatava died in 1938, when the grim period of the destruction of the Czech university education commenced and tragic years of the WWII were on the brink.
After the WWII the Department underwent numerous reforms, yet theoretical approaches were preferred in studies while technical and engineering principles of the fermentation production were neglected. This led to the dismissal of the experimental brewery. However, in 1952 the Faculty of Food Technology, into which the current Department was included under the name of the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Conservation Technology, and later named the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Technology. Prof J Dyr (1904-1980) became its Head and followed in the pre-war trend of modern technology principles of fermentation industry and made the studies of malting and brewing deeper. In that time studies of biochemistry were also expanded and molecular genetics was included.
In 1970 Prof V Grégr (1914-1991), expert on distilleries and microbial biomass production, took over the lead of the Department. Under his term of office the Department was renamed to the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Bioengineering. Once he retired, the Department was headed in 1981 to 1997 by Prof G Basařová, who brought innovations to education programmes, namely in malting and brewing by deepening of theoretical knowledge on biology and engineering and abilities to apply such knowledge to respective processes of fermentation productions. After the Velvet Revolution education system in the Czech Republic underwent a number of changes, opportunities of international cooperation appeared, foreign exchange of students, etc. Assoc Prof J Čepička took over the Department lead after Ms Prof Basařová and managed it till 2002. Then Prof K Melzoch was nominated the Department Head and he was leading the Department until recently. Then, following Prof K Melzoch being appointed the Rector of the Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague, Prof J Masák took the Department lead.
Research activities of the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Bioengineering has been resulting from the long-term traditions of the workplace focused on studies of traditional and modern biochemical technologies employing activities of single-cell organisms and their impacts on quality of products of food and pharmaceutical industries. For the whole period of its existence the Department has been contributing to the development of new technologies leading to the reduction of high quality and innocuous foodstuffs fro beverage industry (brewing, distilleries, vinegar making), production of organic acids (vinegar, lactic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, etc.) yeast, microbial biomass, organic solvents, and a whole number of active biological substances (antibiotics, amino acids, enzymes, etc.).
The Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Bioengineering has been be renamed to the Department of Biotechnology for April 1st 2012.