In memoriam Dr. Blahoslav Číčel (1933 – 2023)
On June 1, 2023, Ing. Blahoslav ČÍČEL, DrSc., scientific personality who significantly influenced the research of clay minerals in Slovakia and in the world, passed away in the age of 90.
Dr. Číčel worked for over 30 years in fundamental and applied research of hydrosilicates. He was mainly focused to the study of the relationships between the structure, crystal chemistry and properties of layered silicates, especially smectites. He significantly influenced the state of knowledge of these materials and became a globally recognized expert. He devoted a significant part of his research work to the problems of chemical transformations during the reactions of smectites with inorganic acids. The topic of his doctoral dissertation were ongoing chemical reactions, the mechanism of structure decomposition by protons, the kinetics of these processes and related changes in properties. He completed his doctoral dissertation in the field of Silicate Technology in 1992.
He also achieved significant results in the study of the fixation of potassium, ammonium and lithium ions in smectites, in the research of their high-temperature phases, and in the preparation of their organo modified derivatives. His activities were always at the interface of basic and applied research, in addition to new theoretical knowledge, they also provided the basis for a substantial expansion of the use of mineral resources. In 1984, he developed the project Complex use of bentonites in Czechoslovakia.
He made a great effort for the rapid introduction of fundamental research results to the industrial applications. He was responsible for establishing solid and good relations with some industrial companies. They started with personal contacts, e.g. during the visiting of clay deposits, and developed further to the phase of mutual long-term cooperation, e.g. with Rudnými baňami, B. Bystrica. Together with the Department of Inorganic Chemistry of Faculty of Natural Sciences CU, he contributed to the development of the technology for the production of organomodified montorillonite that represents the main component of bentonite. With partners from Poland he participated in the development of the technology for the production of bleaching clay using the sulfate method.
Dr. Číčel is the co-author of two monographs on clay minerals, one high school textbook, more than scientific publications and seven author certificates. In the years 1969-1972 and 1974-1975, he was a UNIDO expert in Bolivia, where he participated in the exploitation and research of raw materials, the development of technological and economic documentation. He was member of team responsible for the implementation of the construction of a plant for the production of wall tiles, whose products covered their consumption throughout the country for a long time.
In 1990-1991, he was the first director of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the SAS after Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. At that time, he significantly influenced his scientific activity and the organizational structure of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Číčel was a recognized expert not only at home, but also abroad, but above all he was a hardworking and honest person, a person with a friendly attitude towards his colleagues. Conversations with him were inspiring, always bringing something new.
He will remain in our memory.